A transformer located in a vault beneath a building in downtown San Francisco caught fire. The fire department could not fight the fire without the electricity in the building being shut off. During the time it took to cut off electricity to the building, the smoke and soot were distributed throughout lower sections of the building via the HVAC system. Allegations linking PCB's to cancer caused the building to be sealed for an extended period of time until it could be cleaned sufficiently to meet local standards.
RTI managed and coordinated a multi-discipline team of investigative consultants to address cause and origin issues. The PCB clean-up procedures were evaluated and the HVAC system design and operation were analyzed, as were the transformer and network protector failure. The isolation circuitry and utility actions were investigated and evaluated. The building automation system, the techniques used in firefighting, and the fire detection-suppression systems were also evaluated.
RTI provided testimony, demonstrative evidence, and graphics.
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Joint Inspection Laboratory
Electrical Fire Experts