FE Investigation and Analysis of Poor Electrical Connections and Related Fire Investigation Case Studies





Poor connections, Fire Investigation, Overheating Electrical Connections, glowing connections, electrical overheating, electrical ignition sources, liquid oxides, liquid oxide conductor, high-resistance connections, high-temperature oxidation, forensic engineering


Overheating poor electrical connections (OPCs) are a ubiquitous ignition source of structure fires. Yet, knowledge of the intimate process between conductors at the connection point is relatively undocumented on the microscopic scale. For an OPC, it is ordinary for a filament or pool of liquid oxide to be the main current-carrying conductor at the point of overheating. This paper examines the overheating phenomena from a materials science perspective using photography through the stereo microscope, cross-sectioning, electron microscopy, and specialized techniques under the metallurgical microscope. Two case studies are presented in the second half of this paper. The first presents an artifact from field testing performed by a commercial cooking appliance manufacturer and introduces a real-world example of an OPC that did not ignite surrounding materials. The second is from a fire investigation of a food processing plant where prior research on OPCs informed expert opinions at trial and influenced the results.


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How to Cite

Tim Korinek. 2022. “FE Investigation and Analysis of Poor Electrical Connections and Related Fire Investigation Case Studies”. Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers 39 (1):57-69. https://doi.org/10.51501/jotnafe.v39i1.165.