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Heavy Equipment Fires

Overview


The investigation of heavy equipment fires requires experience with the many systems involved, in areas such as engine performance, hydraulics, electrical distribution, and mechanical systems. Exponent engineers provide the rigorous scientific expertise required to investigate and understand such complex systems. Our investigations have included the analysis of hydraulic systems, bearing performance and failure, debris accumulation, electrical system performance, and other factors involved in heavy equipment fires.

There are numerous potential fuels and sources of ignition on heavy equipment. Flammable solids include plastic and fiberglass components, and the accumulation of material from the environment of the work equipment. Flammable liquids include gasoline or diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, engine oil, and engine coolant. Our engineers have the understanding of the ignition and combustion characteristics of these materials required to evaluate their potential involvement in a given fire incident.

Potential sources of ignition in heavy equipment fires need to be evaluated carefully. For example, many equipment fires are attributed to electrical faults, when in fact, the post-facto presence of electrical faults may actually represent fire damage. Hot-surface ignition likewise can be identified incorrectly as the cause of the fire, due to an inadequate understanding of the process. Exponent engineers have experience investigating these phenomena, and have published technical articles in this area.

Exponent engineers have experience investigating heavy equipment fires involving equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, forklifts, skid-steer loaders, and farm equipment (tractors, combines, cotton pickers, etc.). Our investigations often involve conducting field inspections, laboratory testing, and technical analysis. The scientific findings of our investigations have been published and recognized in the technical literature.