Fire and Explosion Research

Reading it in a book doesn't make you an Expert!


Leading Fire Investigation Conferences

Just investigating isn’t enough.  Our intellectual curiosity and passion for fire science enhances every case.   There are 3 major international Fire Investigation Conferences: ISFI, Fire & Materials, & Interflam. – our experts have presented at all of them.

Fire and Explosion Research


Leading Fire Investigation Conferences

Did you know that we can often tell from the PHYSICAL EVIDENCE if a smoke alarm went off during a fire?  We also maintain an extensive library of exemplar smoke detectors making unit identification easier.  See our research on this subject presented at Interflam 2008.

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Leading Fire Investigation Conferences

As technology changes, so should fire investigation methods.  We’re testing new materials just to see how they burn.  Did you know that new compact fluorescent bulbs can change the outcome of a fire investigation?

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Fire Investigation - Explosion Investigation

Our Research Enhances Your Case.
NFPA 921 Experts


There’s never been a more controversial document in fire investigation. Read all about the common myths and misunderstandings of NFPA 921 from a company that’s been there from the beginning. 

Arson Wrongful Conviction Experts


Wrongful convictions. Our work for clients has uncovered misconduct in a major US fire department leading to a federal investigation. We are asked frequently asked to review historic cases against new fire investigation science. Read a sample of our work on the Pioneer Hotel Fire.

Fire Testing and Research


We study burn patterns by building whole structures, letting them burn and studying what’s left. In fact, we were part of the first team to do these kinds of tests.

P.S.  If your case needs a full-scale burn – we can do that for you.

Paints, Solvents & Chemicals


Just because the labels says non-flammable doesn’t mean it won’t burn,  We’ve done the research & testing, your case benefits. 

You need an expert that understands how these products are tested, how labels & warnings are written and what manufacturers do to bend the rules to their advantage. 

Read our research on flashpoint flammability testing, the outgassing phenomena,  and our novel approach to finding the real fire dangers of consumer paints, strippers, solvents and glue. 

We can help you &  your client make a case against an unsafe product – from testing to testimony, label to liability.

TEMPERATURE v. HEAT: What's the difference?


Does your Fire Investigator know the difference between temperature and heat? What about your opponents? At Kennedy & Associates, We KNOW.  We fully understand fire, flame & heat and the underlying physics.

Many Fire Investigators lack a deeper scientific knowledge of even the most fundamental concepts in Fire Science.   Before you hire an expert ask them...

1. Explain the difference between temperature and heat...
2. What is absolute temperature?
3. What is the technical definition of fire?

Read our research papers on heat, energy and its measurement, presented at ISFI 2012.

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Fire Investigation Research

Ask us how we can apply our expertise & research to your case.

USFA Burn Pattern Tests

W. Alletto, R. Corry, J. Herndon, P. Kennedy, J. Ward, J. Shanley, 1997
Fire Patterns, Fire Behavior, Full Scale Burns, Fire Origin, Flashover, Accelerant.

The first Scientific study into the formation, growth, nature and investigative analysis of post-fire patterns.

Backdraft, Flashover, and Other Rapid Fire Progression Phenomena

G. Gorbett, R. Hopkins, 2007
Backdraft, Flashover, Firefighter Injury, Fire Research

Rapid fire progression phenomena, such as backdraft and flashover, can result in danger to firefighters. This paper examines current research and divides these phenomena into categories based on fundamental physical and chemical processes. 

A Detailed Look at the Necked Vessel Flame Thrower Effect

R. Meier, P. Kennedy, K. Smith, G. Gorbett & P. Powell, 2014
Fire Investigation, Flammable Liquids, Fire Behavior, Necked Vessel Fiame Thrower Effect,

In 2013 and 2014 extensive study and laboratory tests were conducted outside the scope of any specific incident or litigation. This data was combined with data collected during case specific research conducted during the previous 36 years. The study viewed and evaluated the variables in producing the “Necked Vessel Flame Thrower Effect”, including: Vessel Shape, Total Vessel Volume, Opening Diameter, Percent Filled, Pouring Rate (fast or slow), Fuel Temperature and Flashpoint, whether the opening is occluded or not, and the nature (character) of the expulsion of ignited contents.

Depth of Calcination Measurement In Fire Origin Analysis

P. Kennedy, K. Kennedy & R. Hopkins, 2003
Fire Patterns, Fire Investigation, Fire Science, Calcination, Fire Investigation Techniques

This is a report on a research project into the practical use of measurements of depth of calcination of room-fire exposed gypsum wallboard, under actual fire scene investigation conditions, to discover and illustrate movement and intensity fire patterns for fire origin determination. The work builds on the previously published research of Posey and Posey, 1983; McGraw and Mowrer, 1999; Mowrer, 2000; and Schroeder and Williamson, 2000 and the
procedures outlined in NFPA 921.

A Fire Analysis Tool Revisited - Acoustic Soot Agglomeration in Residential Smoke Alarms.

P. Kennedy, K. Kennedy, G. Gorbett, 2004
Acoustic Soot Agglomeration,  Smoke Alarms, Smoke Detector, Fire Investigation, Fire Alarms,

This paper produces additional research particularly focusing on the production of acoustic soot agglomeration patterns in both ionization and photo-electric single station residential smoke alarms. Producing new test data, and combining that with previously reported data, this research work concludes that the presence or absence of acoustic soot agglomeration patterns on smoke detectors exposed to sooty smoke atmospheres was in fact a viable fire analysis tool.

Outgassing - A Phenomenon in Flash Point Testing

P. Kennedy & G. Gorbett, 2004
Paints, Solvents, Flammability Testing, Flashpoint Testing, Seta-Flash, Materials Safety., methylene chloride

The importance of truly recognizing and understanding the outgassing phenomenon becomes of critical importance when ignitable liquid manufacturers use halogenated hydrocarbon liquids, such as methylene chloride, in an attempt to “inert” an otherwise flammable liquid product.

Flashpoint and Fire Analysis

P. Kennedy, 1990
Flash Point, Materials Science, Fire Testing, Fire Litigation

Many times the flashpoint of an ignitable liquid fuel is a key consideration in fire case litigation. When fuel flammability characteristics become the main issue at the heart of litigation "materials science" comes into play. Few practitioners in the theoretical sciences posses sufficient practical knowledge of the flammability characteristics to accurately represent the true significance to a court and jury.

Fractional Vaporization of Ignitable Liquids -Flash Point and Ignitability Issues-

P. Kennedy, A. Armstrong, 2016
Flashpoint, Flammability Testing, MSDS, Flammable Liquids, Paints, Solvents, Chemicals

Explosions or flash fires have occurred under circumstances in which suspected liquid fuel does
not appear to explain the fuel source because of its high reported flash point.  In some cases, science can explain the fuel source by the application of the principal of fractional distillation. Test can reveal that perceived ignitability of the original liquid is masked or underreported in material safety data sheets, labels, warnings, and product use instructions.

Fire Pattern Persistence and Predictability on Interior Finish and Construction Materials During Pre and Post Flashover Compartment Fires.

R. Hopkins, G. Gorbett, P. Kennedy, 2007
FIre Sciene, Fire Patterns, Flashover, Full-room Involvement, Full-Scale Test Burn,

a series of eight full scale tests were conducted in identically constructed, finished and
furnished compartments. In each of the tests with one exception all fires progressed to full room
involvement. These test burns demonstrated fire pattern persistence and predictability during pre and
post full room involvement fires. The full scale tests demonstrated that the fire patterns described in
current literature are correct and when used properly can assist in the determination of the origin of a

Fire Effects on High Efficiency Compact Fluorescent Lighting.

R. Meier, 2012
Fire Science, Fire Investigation, Techniques, Light BUlbs, Fire Patterns

For years investigators have used heat distorted light bulbs to help determine the origin and intensity of fires. The purpose of this study is to establish a base of information on the effects of fire on new styles of lighting, and how the effects of fire can aid the investigator in his or her work.

Thermometry in Fire Investigation and Analysis

P. Kennedy, 2011
Fire Science, Thermodynamics, Fire Investigation, Laboratory Testing

Understanding the Practical Use of Basic Thermometry in Fire and Explosion Investigations and Analyses

The Myths and Mysteries of NFPA 921

P. Kennedy, 2012
NFPA 921, Fire Codes, Fire Investigation, Fire Litigation, Fire Experts

Misunderstandings about the nature and content of National Fire Code© NFPA 921 - Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations abound in the fire investigation industry. These “Myths and Mysteries” tend to depreciatethe value of the document. Caused by failures to understand the nature of the NFPA consensus code promulgation system, the history of the fire investigation profession, the nature and history of NFPA 921 itself; and even semantics. 

Full-Scale Room Burn Patterns Study.

G. Gorbett, W. Hicks, P. Kennedy & R. Hopkins, 2008
Fire Patterns, Full-scale Testing, Fire Science, Fire Dynamics, Heat and Flame Vectors

Key questions to be addressed by the research
burns were: (a) patterns persistence through flashover and full room involvement, (b) reproducibility of patterns geometry in minimal variable testing methods, and (c) reaffirmation of standard patterns analysis methodologies, such as heat and flame vector analysis, depth of calcination measurement, and truncated cone patterns formation and analysis. These tests demonstrate a remarkable resemblance of patterns in minimal variable testing methods. Patterns persistence through flashover and full room involvement was observed, as well as the reproducibility of specific fire patterns, heat and flame vector analysis results, and depth of calcination measurements. In addition, several ancillary fire effects, fire patterns, and post-fire analysis issues were successfully examined.

Pioneer Hotel Report

 G. Gorbett, D. Eliassen, P. Kennedy, J. Lentini, D. Smith, 2008
Case Study, Arson, Wrongful Conviction

The primary goal of this review is to identify the factors relied upon by the fire investigators in 1970 that led to the conviction of Mr. Taylor for the crime of arson. Depending upon the outcome of that review, the second goal was to provide recommendations that, if followed, would lead to the remediation of Mr. Taylor’s conviction. The third
goal was to identify the errors in the determination in the crime of arson (and classifying the fire cause as
incendiary) in order to prevent future errors.

Lithium Ion Batteries

R. Meier & P. Kennedy, 2016
Lithium Ion Batteries, Battery Fires, Battery Explosions, Electronics Fires, E-cigarette Fires

Since their introduction, there have been many fire and explosion incidents where LI cell or batteries were involved. Sometimes the batteries were the source of ignition and sometime even the source of the fuel. In some cases, however, the batteries were victims of the fire. Determining the order of events is not always easy. Proper understanding of battery fundamentals, and investigation methodology when dealing with lithium-ion technology, is crucial to making the correct determination.

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