Full Scale Burn Tests of Two 2013 Ford Fusions – Arc Mapping Analysis

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-1439

Published:
  • 2018-04-03
Abstract:
Vehicle fire investigators sometimes use the existence and location of arced, shorted, melted, & beaded wires in a post burn vehicle as an indication of the fire origin and its cause. To examine the reliability of this methodology, two full scale burn tests were conducted on 2013 Ford Fusions. Both vehicles had similar fire origins, near the driver's front seat, in the interior of the vehicles. The engines were running and all accessories were off. During the burn sequence, occurrences of fire induced electrical anomalies were captured with video and photographic recordings. Examples include lights, horn, and wipers activating. The burn concluded when the measured battery voltage went to zero in vehicle #1. The burn concluded in vehicle #2 after measured battery voltage went to zero and the fire consumed the passenger compartment and most of the engine compartment. During the burn duration, passenger and engine compartment temperatures were recorded. Post burn analysis of the vehicles was performed and electrical arced, shorted, melted, & beaded wires were identified. An attempt was made to analyze the circuits associated with the arced, shorted, melted, & beaded wires to determine if the circuit was powered at the time of the fire or if it became powered due to the fire. However, because of the extensive burn damage, specific circuits could not be identified. The findings on the two vehicles were compared to each other. The conclusion demonstrated that the existence of arced, shorted, melted, & beaded copper wire in a post burn vehicle is not indicative of the fire's origin or its causation. Arced, shorted, melted, & beaded wires were found near the area of origin, as well as outside the area of origin, and were not associated with the cause of the fire.
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