Fire Investigation & Fire Forensics

Reax Engineering investigates fire origin and cause and has provided engineering support for hundreds of fire investigations through fire testing and modelling, electrical and mechanical failure analysis, construction defect, and code compliance evaluation.

We have investigated and analyzed many of the nation’s most serious and costly fires and explosions involving, high rise, factory, commercial, residential, wildland, aircraft, motorcycle, and automotive losses. Our team is experienced with Rule 26 reporting, deposition, and courtroom testimony and presentations.

James (Jamie) Lord, PE, CFI is a former firefighter with degrees in Mechanical and Fire Protection Engineering. His 18 years of experience in fire protection engineering is notable for 10 years of experience investigating fires, performing forensic engineering analyses and serving as an expert witness for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, participating in hundreds of investigations and providing expert testimony in both U.S. and Canadian courts and training programs worldwide.

David Rich has a PhD in Fire Science with an emphasis in fire testing and fire behavior analysis. He is a former Rescue Captain with the San Francisco Fire Department with certifications in Hazardous Materials First Responder and DHS Disaster Management.  He is a lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and has taught Fire Test Methods in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s graduate program in Fire Protection Engineering. He is a fire expert with 12 years of experience participating in investigations, conducting reconstructions, and providing forensic scientific testing and support for determination of cause and origin.

Professor Carlos Fernandez Pello is a tenured faculty of Mechanical Engineering in UC Berkeley’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is a world recognized fire expert and combustion science with 30 years of experience investigating fires and developing experimental test programs to assess ignition and fire spread behavior.  He is an expert in fire dynamics, combustion science, fire behavior, ignition by sparks from powerlines, wildland fire ignition and fire spread, and polymer flammability.

Fire forensics is closely related to fire investigation, and Reax's fire experts specialize in several areas:

Fire Modeling

A fire modeling expert can test forensic fire investigation hypotheses, consistent with the Scientific Method in NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, to determine whether a postulated fire origin and cause is scientifically valid. more

Fire Testing

Fire testing is an integral component of building and consumer product regulations in the United States. more


Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is the use of numerical methods to analyze fluid flow.  more

Residential Fire Reconstruction and Analysis

In the United States, approximately 85% of all fire deaths are attributed to residential fires. more

Failure Analysis

Failure analysis is the application of laboratory testing, calculations, and computer modeling to determine how or why the failure occurred. more

Origin & Cause Analysis

Fire investigation is the process of determining the origin, cause, and development of a fire or explosion. more

Wildland Fire Ignition and Spread Analysis

Historically, around 10 million acres are charred by wildland fires each year in the United States. more

Smoke Detector Failure Analysis

Smoke detector failure is a significant factor contributing to fire deaths and injuries in the United States. more

Spot Fires and Ignition of Fuels by Hot Particles

Spot fire formation is the primary vector for the spread of wildland and wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires under dry, hot, and windy conditions that produce the most devastating fires. more

Heat Transfer Analysis

Heat transfer analysis is a critical component of fire analysis and reconstruction. more