"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI)

with 2 comments

I’ve done forensics work for a local engineering firm for the past 5 years or so. Usually I get called in as a specialist in electrical phenomena – so the lead investigator (usually a mechanical engineer) may refer a question to me when a fire or failure involves electrical stuff that may have failed in a weird or wacky manner.lg_CFEIDecal09081323249

Some failures are pretty apparent just with a first look, but sometimes you can have a complicated electrical chain of causation that is not immediately apparent.

For example, you have a failure on the overhead electrical service that results in conductor to conductor arcing that severs the neutral conductor. When you have a ‘floating neutral’, particularly in a 3-phase service, you can end up with very unpredictable behaviour. The first result is that the phase voltages may swing as high as the phase-to-phase value resulting in over-voltage conditions. If you combine that failure with a system that uses metallic conduit as the ground conductor, and a marginal building ground system, you can end up with the conduit being energized and conducting fault current continuously. That type of failure is not readily apparent, and may result in a fire or failure at some point far distant from the electrical service entrance.

More recently, I’ve been doing more fire investigations on my own. It is really neat work, and I’ve never sought other certification as I figured my engineering credentials are adequate.

This year I decided to finally go for licensing as a certified fire and explosion investigator (CFEI), and just received my exam results back. I stopped collecting pre- and post-nominals many years ago, but in this case I’m happy to be able to say I’m now a CFEI.


Written by sameo416

September 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Congrats to an awesome fellow!


    September 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

    • Why thanks! Prayers that none of us ever need to hire a fire investigator!


      September 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

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