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.

Colin Hanks
Colin HanksPrincipal Consultant QFSM, BSc Hons, MIFireE, MIAAI, AFNI
Colin’s fire service experience coupled with his existing maritime qualifications gives him a unique advantage when it comes to investigating fire and/or accidents aboard ships. He has considerable experience of operating within a dynamic risk environment in both the fire sector and the marine industry.
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.

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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