October 18, 2016

Hello, I’m Ted Corless. I work with Corless Barfield Trial Group with my office in Tampa, Florida. We’ve prepared a series of podcasts, video casts, and blogs associated with some of the common issues involved in insurance claims.

Today’s video is about the issue of fire investigations. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed the most over the twenty years that I’ve been a lawyer, is the opportunity to play junior scientist every time I get involved in a technical matter.

In the issue of investigating or participating in a fire insurance claim, I have had to study many of the same materials that are relied upon by the experts that are commonly hired by insurance companies.

Fire investigations are very, very technical. There are three elements that are commonly associated with any fire claim where they’re trying to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

Those things are:

  1. Ignition sequence
  2. Ignition source
  3. First fuel

Any time you’re involved in a fire and you’re reading a fire investigators report, each of these elements should be broken out individually and evaluated. They must then determine whether or not there is evidence to be able to establish what those elements are, and let’s take them.

Ignition Source:

What is an ignition source? Well the ignition source could be a bolt of lightning, it could be an electrical short, or if you believe the insurance company, it could be you. You’re the source. You’re the one who ignited the fire that cause the loss.

Ignition Sequence

The second issue is ignition sequence. Now this matters because if, for example, a bolt of lightning did strike your house but the fire’s on the other side of the house, we’d need to understand how it is that the ignition source got involved in the ignition sequence that resulted in the actual loss.

First Fuel

The third element that must be specified by the fire inspector, is the first fuel. Now first fuel is going to be the very first thing that technically caught on fire. And that’s not always necessarily the thing that was the first event. Example again, that being lightning. Lightning does not necessarily cause fire, but sometimes can cause other activity that then becomes the very first fuel.

 If you’re involved in a fire investigation where your home or your business has been damaged by fire but the insurance company is dragging its feet, I’d encourage you to go to our website: www.CorlessBarfield.com or give us a call.