Industry Articles & News

True Story: Vehicle Fires and Subrogation

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been removed to protect the innocent.

Background: A newly built shuttle bus was being transported and caught on fire shortly after it was parked. The individual driving the shuttle bus said that he had been driving the bus most of the day, towing his personal car behind it, and stopped at his home for dinner. The shuttle bus was parked in his driveway and when he looked out the window several hours later he saw smoke coming from under the hood.

Assignment: Determine the origin & cause of the vehicle fire.

Suspects: The manufacturer of the shuttle bus
The company that installed a new alternator in this shuttle bus
The manufacturer of the new alternator
The company responsible for transporting the shuttle bus

Just the Facts: After a brief initial inspection of the vehicle our fire investigator and electrical engineer returned to the scene for a multi-party inspection. Our investigators were representing the manufacturer of the vehicle and were joined by representatives from the company that installed a larger alternator, the manufacturer of the new alternator and the company that transported the shuttle bus.

With all interested parties present, the origin of this fire was determined to be on the right side of the engine compartment. Inspection of the wires inside the cab also confirmed that this wiring was the victim of the fire instead of the origin and further examination of the engine compartment confirmed that the fire began here, at the wiring for the alternator.

Findings: Our conclusion was that the fire was caused by the improper installation of the new alternator. Our electrical engineer documented that the positive cable for this alternator was not properly connected, causing a high resistance connection and overheating of this cable, which ultimately started this vehicle fire. As a result of a thorough investigation; the manufacturer was able to reach a successful settlement with the company that installed this alternator.