This case involves a woman from Oklahoma who was severely injured when an open gas fireplace with a glass guard on its perimeter exploded. The gas fireplace was located at a home owned by the plaintiff’s colleague, whom she knew from her position as a community college professor. The homeowner explained to the plaintiff that if the pilot light for the unit was not lit, then the gas flow would be shut off. When the fireplace is ignited, a control panel on the unit would dictate the amount of flame produced. During her time visiting the home, the plaintiff saw that the pilot light was not lit. She bent down in front of the unit to press the ignition button, when suddenly the fireplace released an explosive discharge of flames, shattering the glass pane and sending a number of tiny glass pieces at the plaintiff’s face and causing extensive fire damage to the home.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience with the engineering and design of heating products similar in scope to the one in this case.
Expert Witness Response E-001181
I’m a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator and I have broad experience with failures/explosions in fueled/gas/electric heating and other systems. I’ve also worked in the development of safety procedures, warnings/labels, and the implementation of safety devices to meet product standards. I’ve worked on several matters involving heating products, mostly in forensic investigation. My experience encompasses 20 years of examining product standards, applying a variety of heating systems to structures and other systems, as well as investigating failures that lead to personal injury and fires. I’ve investigated gas fireplaces/appliances matters involving fire causation.