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Lift Fire Investigation

posted on November 1, 2017 / IN Fire and Explosion Investigation / Forensic Investigation /

The Circumstances

A fire was reported to have commenced within a lift at a residential flat. The first eyewitness discovered the lift stationary at Level 3 with the lift doors ajar.

The fire was observed around the Car Operating Panel (COP) within the car cage of the lift. Subsequently, it was found that there was also fire on the car top. The fire was quickly extinguished by the earliest eyewitnesses.

The Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) operation team had arrived fifteen (15) minutes later to inspect the condition.

The AFSB’s Task

The Team was engaged to determine the origin and possible cause(s) of the fire. The damaged fire-affected lift was examined and documented via photography.

Statements were recorded from the earliest eyewitnesses to gather information regarding the circumstances of the fire.

Area of Fire’s Origin

View the animated area of Fire’s Origin
Area of Fire’s Origin

Cause of Fire

There were no indications of the fire to have commenced due to a lightning strike, hot works, smoking materials, mechanical failure, and electrical failure.

  • There were signs of vandalism observed within the same building where the plastic covers for the hall call panel at other levels were found to have sustained fire damage. Vulgar remarks and signs of forced prying were found on the other public properties.
  • The fire damage on the COP indicates that the fire was initiated on the exterior surface, prior to propagating upwards and towards its interior.
  • The plastic material on the car position indicator had melted. The ignition temperatures for the plastic material ranges between 300 and 600 degrees Celsius (°C). It was well below the flame temperatures of any source of an open flame, such as a lighter. A lighter is normally fuelled by butane or naphtha, a light fuel oil.  The flame temperature for butane is 1,970 °C, whereas for light fuel oil is 2,104 °C. Therefore, an open flame such as a lighter, which is widely available and commonly used by a perpetrator of vandalism, will easily ignite the plastic material on the car position indicator and cause a fire to the lift.

Conclusion

Based on the physical evidence gathered during the on-site investigation, damage analysis and scientific interpretation, witnesses account, and through the process of elimination, the fire was initiated due to human involvement at the area of fire origin. All other possible causes of fire (natural and accidental) had been ruled out.

By Chew Wan Chyn

At AGI, she investigated a range of caseworks such as fire investigation involving both large and small scales of premises and motor vehicles, vehicle accident reconstruction, failure analysis of biomedical equipment, damage assessment of building material.

AGI’s Professional Restoration