Root Cause Analysis: Electrical Fires & Explosions

According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2011 an estimated 47,000 home structure fires and 16,400 non-home structural fires were attributed to an electrical malfunction or failure. The fire causes ranged from electrical distribution and lighting equipment to household appliances.

As opposed to traditional cause-and-origin investigations, Exponent electrical engineers are well suited to perform root-cause analyses for electrical fires and explosions. Exponent electrical engineers, many of whom hold PhD's, are licensed Professional Engineers and Certified Fire and Explosive Investigators certified by the National Association of Fire Investigators. Our team is well versed in the principles of NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations as well as other relevant national codes and standards. In the case of products this includes ANSI, UL, etc.

Our team has expertise in performing root-cause-analysis of fire and explosion related to electrical systems including: power and energy, systems and controls, electrical devices, consumer electronics, and medical devices. Our electrical engineers work closely with our consultants in our Thermal Sciences practice as well.

Depending on the nature of the incident Exponent will identify and perform the required tests according to national guidelines and standards including:


  • Materials characterization
  • Microscopy and X-Ray/CT imaging
  • Electrical testing
  • Incident recreation

Professionals