Fire Loss

Fire Loss for Insurance & Legal Cases

Fires are devastating occurrences that wreak havoc on residential or commercial occupants, often leaving them displaced for many months. However, a fire loss is far more than the damage from direct fire impingement! It is also damage from smoke, soot, water, and heat distortion that impacts a building structure.

Let Forensic Failure Analysis work to find the origin and the root cause of the fire loss, allowing us to help you with your insurance or legal case. We work quickly to get to the scene first, and then efficiently and accurately to obtain the necessary evidence before it is lost or destroyed.

We can provide technical support for:

  • Root Cause Investigations
  • Extent & Duration Findings
  • Repair Advisement
  • Depositions, Trials, & Testimonies

Why Work with FFA?

Experts at Forensic Failure Analysis have over 30 years of experience in determining the causes of residential and commercial fire losses across the Northeast United States. We use a team approach consisting of professionals who specialize in individual areas.

We are able to examine a fire loss from a mechanical, electrical, materials science, and structural standpoint with qualified, expert engineers in each sector.

Forensic Failure & Analysis is a sustained member of the International Association of Arson Investigators, New York State Chapter 23.

FFA Vice President and forensic engineer Scott Phillips is an IAAI-CFI and serves as an IAAI Chapter 23 Board member.

Failed Water Pipes

Our Process & Capabilities

FFA prides itself on quick response times. We realize that it is crucial to get to the scene as soon as possible to document the scene to preserve and collect evidence before changes are made or repairs are done. Our typical process includes the site exam, evidence collection, laboratory exam, research, testing, and a written report.

Site Exam

During the site exam, we will document the loss location and collect the physical evidence necessary to prove the cause of the specific fire loss. During this step, we consider every possible ignition source of the fire loss, and thereby eliminate all other possible sources of ignition. FFA will determine the exact source and failure mode. Our capabilities include:

  • Site Reconstruction
  • Video photography
  • Drone photography
  • Matterport photography (with partner company)
  • On-site evidence storage in a secure facility

Research, Testing, & Evidence Examinations

While conducting our research & testing in the laboratory, we may conduct the following:

  • Microscopic Examination
  • Electrical Testing
  • Thermal Testing
  • X-ray Capture and analysis
  • CT Scan analysis
  • Material science

Flame Test of Natural Gas From An Open Pipe

This video shows a conducted flame test from an open pipe of natural gas-fueled fire causing repeated ignition of a wood surface.

Written Report (Upon Request)

After completing the site exam and research, testing, and evidence exams, we will provide a written report detailing our findings when directed.

Fire Causation

There are many types of fire losses that can occur in both residential or commercial settings, whether in houses, apartments, businesses, factories, or other structures. All can have varying degrees of damage but it is important to determine the root cause before assessing the damage.

The following are common types of fire losses:

Building Wiring

Faulty building wiring is a common cause of structure fires. It could also be caused by an overheating outlet connection, improper modifications during repairs or renovations, long-term failure of fixtures, etc.

Home Appliances

Appliances in the home such as microwaves, ovens, and dryers are all manufactured and fail with time. Not all appliances fail in a safe manner.


This includes furnaces, air conditioners, and gas or electric fireplaces.

Consumer Electronics

Televisions, power strips, computers, audio equipment, and even power cords are just some of the consumer electronics that may fail and cause fire losses.

Human Error

Unfortunately, humans can cause fires either accidentally or due to negligence. NFPA (link) data shows that the leading cause of fires and fire-related injuries is due to cooking fires.


Propane and natural gas explosions are caused when a tank or pipe containing pressured gas leaks and the concentration builds to the point of an explosive mixture. The often devastating aftermath of these explosions is well published on news shows and online media outlets.


This criminal act is an intentionally set fire by a human, which is sometimes done for the purpose of insurance fraud. In order to be ruled arson, all other potential causes, including electrical, have to be examined and ruled out as a possible fire cause. FFA has investigated and testified in court on numerous civil and criminal arson cases.

Spontaneous Ignition

Spontaneous combustion (ignition) is the initiation of combustion of a material by an internal chemical or biological reaction that has produced sufficient heat to self ignite without a separate ignition source. This process presents as self-heating, followed by thermal runaway, and finally, autoignition. For example, when oily rags are placed in a dryer, wet hay is stacked in a barn, or linseed oil-soaked rags are piled up in a trash can.

Please contact us to discuss the specifics of your case.


The information provided by Forensic and Failure Analysis (FFA) to clients, colleagues, potential clients, and others for educational and informational purposes only. No explicit or implied content accuracy or applicability guaranteed to the reader for a specific case or circumstance.  This information is not intended to provide expert opinions or create a legal relationship. You should not take, or refrain from taking actions based on its content.