Frequently forensic cases have credible hypotheses that lack the necessary information to connect all of the dots. Commonly, this revolves around a lack of combustion properties or fire spread rates for the materials responsible for the fire development. In this case, fire testing of materials is frequently performed to determine fire performance properties of the materials, such as heat release rate and smoke production propensity. For example, cone calorimeter tests, which are bench scale tests, are relatively inexpensive and can be performed quickly. Testing results are used in computer modeling scenarios to characterize fire growth and the resulting impact. Another type of smaller scale tests frequently executed is self heating tests. Self heating tests are frequently used to evaluate fire cause hypotheses associated with “spontaneous combustion” of bulk materials.
Fire performance evaluations of exemplar assemblies are also routinely conducted by Hughes Associates personnel to support ongoing litigation projects. Product and system testing can establish the performance under representative conditions to evaluate fire growth history, establish or refute existing timelines, and document system activation. Small, medium, and large scale testing are routinely performed at our facilities. All facets of fire testing and analysis are utilized to support litigation cases where the impact of fire on occupants or businesses is being examined. HAI maintains an on-site laboratory and also utilizes larger off-site fire test facilities.