Fire Protection

A fire occurred at an industrial complex in New Jersy that involved approximately 40 acres of industrial processing and warehouse buildings and resulted in excess of $100 million in damages.  The fire originated outside of a business that produced mothballs.  The process involved solidifying liquid naphthalene chemical in large vats and then mechanically pressing the solid chemical into mothball shapes.  Specifically, the fire was started by a group of trespassers on the property and then set fire to a large vat of naphthalene.

RTI was retained by outside counsel to address the technical issues associated with the fire.  A multidisciplinary team consisting of fire scientists, fire protection engineers, chemical engineers, and MSDS specialists was assembled to evaluate the fire spread, water supply, combustion, fire regulations, codes and standards, and solidification characteristics of naphthalene.  RTI performed an extensive review of the applicable local, state, and federal fire codes, standards, and practices to assess the relative contribution of other parties to the total damages.  RTI preformed large-scale solidification tests with naphthalene to determine that this chemical would have been solidified (and therefore, more difficult to ignite) by the time the trespassers set fire to the vat of material.

Through this work. RTI provided testimony to assist in the successful settlement on behalf of its client to substantially reduce the claim from hundreds of millions of dollars to less than $10 million.

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Joint Inspection Laboratory 

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