Fire Investigation

Our Consultant Fire Investigator, David Townsend, with 40 years fire experience, brings to AMA a full capability for the determination of cause and origin not only in marine cases but also across all building, industrial and transport groups. This experience includes fire fighting, fire incident command and 20 years dedicated fire and explosion investigation in both public and private sectors.   AMA can conduct the investigation of fire and explosion events from discovery (including on-going operational advice if required) through to testing, full reporting and expert witness testimony.

Our full forensic fire and explosion investigation service is substantially and uniquely supported in-house by the skills of our marine, science and materials teams. Fire expertise will also add to some marine, science and materials casework.  It is a synergy that we believe increases efficiency and quality and reduces costs. The need for the appointment of further outside agencies is also reduced. We can also provide fire risk assessment and training if required.

Court experience has included Coroners inquests and Criminal defence (all of which resulted in case dismissal, exoneration or reduced sentencing). Recent court work has included two successfully defended cases at the UK Technical and Construction Court and one on-going judicial hearing in Pakistan. Other recent civil fire cases have been successfully caused to be withdrawn or mediated. Recent shipping fire incidents include bulk carrier, TEUs, transporters and yachts. In-house fire investigation training is provided and the fire team will be expanded with equal skills in time.


Forensic Analysis

AMA has gained over the years a rich experience in forensic sciences thanks to the expertise of our consultants, and a steady stream of involvement with high profile incidents around the world. Our scientists can collect, preserve and analyse different types of forensic evidence including fire debris, body fluids, soils, sea (and other) water, chemical contaminants, paints and glass, using various analytical techniques such as spectroscopy (AA, FTIR, MS, UV-Vis, XRF), chromatography (HPLC, CG), polymerase chain reaction (PRC), cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemiluminescence (ECL).

Case study:

A large fire at a major industrial aggregate plant saw the total destruction of two buildings .The clients who were a welding company, had been working in the vicinity and were accused of causing the fire by negligence. The welding contractor had liability insurance but cover was withdrawn on the basis that the contractor had not complied strictly with standard warranties in the use and control of hot work.  Our expert was late appointed and was obliged rely mainly on the findings of other experts who had been appointed by the site owner, and the liability insurer. These experts both presented their findings in court.

However, our expert was able to demonstrate that the strict warranty conditions had not been practicable at the site and that other expert’s hypotheses for implementation of the standard warranties were not feasible. Moreover, he demonstrated that the precautions implemented by the welders were in principal at least equal to the standard warranty conditions.

In a successful outcome, the judge found that the welding company had not been negligent, and they were able to recover costs.