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FORENSIC FIRE AND EXPLOSION INVESTIGATORS

Introduction
We presently have a number of vacancies for scientists and engineers to undertake forensic investigations of a wide range of fires and explosions. These investigations will usually be undertaken for insurance related purposes. Our clients include international insurers, loss adjusters, solicitors, marine Protection and Indemnity clubs and insurance brokers. Our clients require clear and accurate technical advice regarding the cause of the fire or explosion and assistance with determining liability, sometimes at very short notice.

The Nature of the Work
If you are looking for a routine laboratory or an office based position then this is definitely not the job for you. We are offering you a rare opportunity to enter a unique and very rewarding profession in which the variety and the nature of the technically focussed work is extremely diverse and challenging, thus providing you with what we consider is unrivalled job satisfaction. A key attraction of this role is that you will typically have the opportunity to be responsible for seeing a technical investigation through from beginning to end from initially collecting the evidence on site to preparing the final technical report and ultimately giving expert evidence in Court.

You will have the opportunity to investigate a wide range of fires and explosions involving ultimately super tankers and commercial airliners but initially more probably house, office and appliance fires. The entirely unpredictable nature and location of the work are key attractions of this role. Your work will require you to visit the location of an incident, sometimes at short notice, to interview witnesses and to record and gather physical evidence. The work will often require you to examine failed components and other physical evidence in a laboratory environment. There is a practical element to the job in that occasionally you will be required to carefully dismantle machinery, equipment or component assemblies in a systematic manner to obtain the evidence that you require to determine the cause of the fire or explosion. This practical aspect of the work also extends to the requirement to devise and possibly undertake tests, possibly with outside agencies or contractors, as and when the need arises.

The list below provides an overview of the various aspects of the job:

  • Conducting site-based investigations to record and gather the available physical evidence.
  • Liaising with Police, Fire Brigade, Health and Safety Executive personnel, who may be in control of the site.
  • Obtaining details regarding the background and circumstances surrounding the incident by interviewing individuals associated with the incident.
  • Undertaking telephone and Internet enquiries, possibly in liaison with our team of in-house librarians.
  • Reviewing technical documentation that may include manuals and maintenance records.
  • Consulting relevant standards, regulations and other published guidance.
  • Undertaking technical literature reviews.
  • Providing the client with timely preliminary verbal and/or written advice in a form that can be readily understood by a layperson and ultimately a Judge.
  • Conducting detailed laboratory based examinations.
  • Devising and conducting tests.
  • Preparing reports that may be in the form of a brief letter style report or in the form of a detailed, illustrated report for Court proceedings.
  • Attending client meetings to discuss your investigation.
  • Meetings with experts appointed by the other involved parties as part of the litigation process.
  • Providing expert witness evidence in Court, which will involve being questioned in depth by a
  • Barrister, who will have been briefed by a technical expert.
  • Incident Examples

Provided below are a few examples of the types of investigation we have undertaken, which serve to illustrate the diversity of the work that you will encounter with Burgoynes.

  • Explosion of a tanker whilst undergoing work in dry-dock.
  • Fire in a commercial airliner during cleaning.
  • Fire that caused the almost total destruction of a superstore.
  • Deliberate fire involving fatalities in a hotel.
  • Explosion in a house following a gas leak.
  • Fire in a parked car as the result of an electrical fault.
  • House fire involving the careless use of candles.
  • Deliberate fire in a commercial premises to defraud the insurance company.
  • Fire involving white goods; washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers etc.
  • Fire involving incorrect installation of heating equipment.
  • Fire at the electricity supply company’s equipment in a house.
  • Acting for a Defendant charged with arson.

Our Requirements
The fire and explosion investigator position is a technically demanding, challenging and most rewarding role requiring not only a thorough understanding of basic chemistry and physics but also the ability to tackle problems from first principles.

Ideally you will:

  • Have attained a good honours degree in a science or engineering discipline.
  • Have gained several years of postgraduate experience.
  • Have an aptitude and enthusiasm for problem solving.
  • Be self-motivated and be able to work effectively under pressure.
  • Be practical, meticulous and able to work in a systematic manner.
  • Have common sense and be able to analyse information critically.
  • Have the ability to communicate technical concepts clearly, both verbally and in writing, to others less informed.
  • Be prepared to be flexible and work unpredictable hours, as and where the work demands, including occasionally overseas.
  • Be prepared to provide expert witness evidence in Court when required.

Training and Prospects
Comprehensive “on-the-job” type training in the conduct of forensic investigations and the preparation of reports for our insurance and legal clients will mostly be provided in-house and will be supplemented by selected external courses. Career advancement and reward are based on ability and commitment. There may be opportunities subsequently to transfer to other offices overseas.

Package
We offer unrivalled job satisfaction and a highly competitive starting salary with unparalleled prospects. Benefits include five weeks holiday, a contributory pension scheme, medical insurance, life assurance, permanent health insurance and a company car. Where appropriate a relocation package is available. The London Office appointment has London weighting.

Application
Further information and application forms are available from recruitment@burgoynes.com (please include your postal address) or alternatively write to Miss S Ambrose-Kemp, Dr JH Burgoyne & Partners LLP, 11-12 Half Moon Court, Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7HF.

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