This case involves a fire that occurred in a large apartment building in a built-up, urban area. The fire allegedly began in a utility closet in the building’s basement, where electrical connections for the building’s coin-operated washing and clothes dryer laundry machines short-circuited. The fire began to spread to the area around the utility closet, and despite the fact that the fire produced heavy smoke, no smoke alarms had been installed in the basement to warn residents of the spreading blaze. As the fire continued to spread, several residents became trapped in their apartments and had to be rescued by firefighters. Despite the efforts of the fire department to save all of the trapped residents, a number of people perished in the blaze. It was alleged that the building should have installed smoke detectors near the utility closet in order to warn residents of a fire.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have extensive experience investigating fires and determining if there were any acts of negligence that may have contributed to the fire?
- 2. Do homeowners have a duty to themselves and any tenants to install smoke alarms?
- 3. Are you familiar with the proper locations that smoke alarms should be installed?
Expert Witness Response E-010299
I certainly have extensive experience in the investigation of fires; over the past 15 years, I have investigated thousands of fires. The duty to install smoke alarms is a given, it is a basic responsibility of a property owner; I have conducted investigations on the significance of smoke alarm operation and location. Having worked in the state for years, I am very familiar with the fire code and relevant regulations in the state in question here.
This expert brings 40+ years of electrical engineering experience to a continuing career in failure analysis and electrical fire investigations. In addition to his professional work for several industrial firms, he has taught these subjects at the Illinois Fire Academy.