Forensic Services: PYROTECHNIC & FIREWORKS-RELATED ACCIDENTS

Team Investigators –
ZACHARY J. JASON, PE, CFEI
JOHN L. SCHUMACHER, MChE, PE, CFI, CFPS
JEFFERY BERINO, BS, AAS, CFEI, CCFI
SHAWN A. SAPP, Ph.D.

The Right Intel Solves the Problem

Pyrotechnic & Fireworks
Firework displays have long been an American tradition. Whether on the 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, a major sporting event, or other celebration, we have all witnessed these stunning choreographed pyrotechnic displays. The common spectator, however, has never seen firsthand the destructive potential these explosive devices can have when things go awry. Due to the increased exposure and significant injuries associated with a pyrotechnic accident, it is important that a proper investigation be conducted into the cause of the incident. AEI’s multi-disciplinary engineering staff, which includes a certified Fireworks/Pyrotechnics Display Technician are equipped to address all types of incidents common to pyrotechnic and fireworks-related accidents.

Professional Fireworks Display
When professional display accidents occur, the liability exposure to claims of negligence, personal injury and property damage can be substantial for the public authority or commercial organization in charge. Given the many different facets involved in these displays, it may be difficult to find an expert with specialized experienced and knowledge to perform and manage the investigation. Regardless of the size or location of the commercial display, our experts can address all aspects of an incident involving both close-proximity and outdoor firework displays.

Consumer Fireworks & Pyrotechnic Devices
According to NFPA, fireworks are the most dangerous consumer product. Each year on average, tens of thousands of serious injuries and fires are caused by fireworks, directly contributing to millions of dollars in property damage. The potential for accidents vastly increases during times of celebration and certain holidays associated with increased consumer use. The team at AEI has experience investigating losses involving consumer fireworks and pyrotechnic devices.

Device Construction & Chemical Composition
Fireworks and pyrotechnic devices span everything from small consumer sparklers, firecrackers, and fountains to larger professional aerial shells and intricate close proximity effects. Therefore, it is important for the investigator to have an understanding of the failure modes associated with the specific device or launch equipment. Manufacturing defects occur typically as a result of faulty construction or improper chemical composition. User based errors and improper modification of devices can also play a causal role in failures. Whatever the factors involved, AEI has experts qualified to handle the full range of investigative requirements in order to determine the root cause associated with the failure.

Manufacturing, Storage & Transportation
The volatile chemicals and explosive compositions associated with pyrotechnic devices can lead to increased hazards during manufacturing, storage and transportation. These types of accidents typically result in a catastrophic loss. In recent years, some of the largest industrial explosions throughout the world have been linked to fireworks manufacturing and storage. This trend extends into transportation, where some of the worst maritime and air cargo shipping accidents can also be linked to fireworks and their associated chemicals. Whatever the type of incident, AEI has experts equipped to properly investigate these accidents and work effectively with the many competing government organizations involved after a catastrophic loss of this nature.

Regulatory Issues & Code Compliance
Both international and federal codes dictate the rules and regulations associated with the manufacture, transportation and storage of fireworks. Here in the US, the ATF, DOT and CPSC play a major role in this process. Trade organizations such as NFPA, API and PGI dictate the codes and standard of care associated with conducting professional displays. There are further competing state and local laws that also regulate the use of and sales of consumer devices. AEI Corporation commonly performs code assessments for clients to determine the appropriate standard of care or specific codes involved with a pyrotechnic/fireworks-related incident or accident investigation.

Typical investigation services provided by AEI Corporation include:
• Cause analysis of consumer & display firework accidents.
• Evaluation of firing system design.
• Failure analysis of devices & components.
• Review of manufacture, transportation & storage of fireworks & pyrotechnic articles.
• Investigation of firework-related fires & explosions.
• Examination of propane flame cannon & other close proximity effects.
• Evaluation of firework safety codes & standards compliance (State & Federal).

ADVANCED ENGINEERING INVESTIGATIONS CORPORATION

8197 West Brandon Drive Littleton, CO, 80125 Toll Free: 877-937-2900 Phone: 303-756-2900 Fax: 303-756-2911
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