The Fire & Explosion department provides independent scientific analysis to establish the nature and cause of incidents and to assess the extent of loss and damage. We also advise on related loss prevention and safety management matters.

CWA also has the expertise to model fluid flow, spill releases, fire and explosion phenomena.

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Scope of work

Cargo self-heating
Estimated Maximum Loss (EML)
Expert witness  >
Explosions and blast phenomena
Fire and explosion investigation
Fire initiation, propagation and spread
Fire properties of materials
Fire risk analysis
Gas and vapour cloud fires
Hazardous goods
Heat transfer and mechanical failure
Identification, collection & preservation of forensic evidence
Live attendance  >
Post incident investigations  >
Smoke dispersion
Specification & supervision of forensic laboratory analysis
Unstable processes and transients

Experts & Consultants

The Fire & Explosion team are frequently called upon to give expert advice in arbitration and court hearings.

Dr David Rose
Dr David RoseHead of Department Doctorate in Applied Chemistry
Post Doctoral research in Combustion Chemistry
Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Specialises in the investigation of major marine casualties, fire and blast incidents. Experienced fire and explosion investigator, fires caused by chemical reactions, electrical failures, hot works and arson. Experienced expert witness.
Dr Nick Carey
Dr Nick CareyConsultant Doctorate of Philosophy for fire/electricity related research
Fire Investigation Diploma, Chartered Soc. Forensic Sciences
Certified Fire Investigator (IAAI)
Technical Member Inst. of Engineering & Technology

Experienced in investigating the causes of fires and explosions, and the causes of electrical failures. Firefighting experience, including fire investigation for marine casualties. Experienced expert witness.
Paul Willis
Paul WillisConsultant BSc in Chemistry with Environmental Science
Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
Member of The Institution of Fire Engineers

Experienced in the investigation of fires and explosions involving bulk cargo and container ships in Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
Dr Ivan Vince
Dr Ivan VincePrincipal Consultant Doctorate in Combustion Science
Chartered Chemist
Fellow of the Energy Institute

Expertise in providing detailed analysis of major marine casualties, fire and blast incidents within high hazard industrial plants, warehouse fires, consequence modeling, quantitative risk assessment as well as safety management advice and environmental impact.
Nick Coogan
Nick CooganConsultant BSc in Chemistry with Forensic Science
Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Experience of forensic fire investigations worldwide. Experienced expert witness.
Dr Richard Fletcher
Dr Richard FletcherConsultant Doctorate in Electrical Engineering
Chartered Engineer
Fellow of Inst. of Engineering & Technology

Specialises in the investigation of fires and electrical engineering failures and accidents including the investigation of shipping fires and equipment failures. Experienced expert witness.
Gary Hotchkiss
Gary HotchkissConsultant BSc (Eng) degree in Electrical Engineering
Member of Inst. of Engineering & Technology

Specialises in the investigation of fires and electrical engineering failures and accidents including the investigation of shipping fires and equipment failures.
David Reid-Rowland
David Reid-RowlandConsultant MSc (Mechanical Engineering) UCT
Chartered Engineer

Manages the investigation of fire and engineering-related failures in marine casualties.
Dr Chris Wareham
Dr Chris WarehamConsultant Doctorate & Post Doctoral research in geochemistry
Experience of investigation of fire and explosion incidents worldwide, including those caused by chemical reactions, mechanical and electrical failures and hot works.
Chris Dennis
Chris DennisConsultant Masters in Mechanical Engineering
Experienced in fire and explosion investigation including major incidents involving industrial premises and shipping covering casualties in Europe.

CWA Experts & Consultants

Typical Cases

Tanker Explosion

CWA investigated the cause of a multi-fatality incident on board a ULCC whilst undergoing hot work at a dry dock and ship repair facility.

Paper Products

Substantial mitigation of loss was achieved by applying an industry specialist's expertise to evaluate and supervise disposal on best possible terms of a cargo of smoke damaged pulp and paper.

Engin Rm Fire

CWA undertakes detailed post incident investigations of serious engine room fires.

Engin Rm Fire

CWA has investigated several fire and explosion incidents on a range of container vessels, reporting on ignition mechanisms and fire spread.

Tank Farm

CWA undertook intensive literature review on previous boil over incidents for a multi-national oil company.

Tank Farm

CWA reviewed current techniques for risk assessment of tank farms containing hazardous flammable inventories and developed an improved quantitative method for evaluating intertank safety distances in terms of hazardous properties of the inventory, tank insulation and water deluge. A computerised model was developed.

Gas Carrier

CWA has carried out investigations of major explosions and/or fire incidents involving gas carriers. We also advise on the adequacy of emergency responses, salvage options, loss mitigation and loss prevention.

Dangerous Goods

CWA performs detailed post-mortem investigations of the loss by fire of vessels carrying a variety of IMO classed dangerous goods. CWA evaluates the likely cause, the consequential fire spread and the efficacy of firefighting procedures.

Tanker Casualty

CWA has modelled in detail the spread of fire and oil dispersed from sunken wrecks.


CWA has undertaken contract research into the root causes of self-heating of Direct Reduced Iron in the light of recurring problems with shipments of DRI from certain ports.

Damaged cargo

CWA carries out detailed investigations of the technical and operational factors governing the loss by fire and explosion of vessels. CWA can perform complex mathematical modelling of fire spread and oil dispersed from sunken wrecks as part of our evaluations.


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