Stapper v. Overhead Door
Fire occurred in a single family residence in San Francisco during a wind and rain storm. Firefighters responded and entered the garage of the residence to attempt fire suppression through the pedestrian door into the home. The garage door closed behind them, preventing their retreat, resulting in serious injuries to the firefighters.
Exponent examined the role of the overhead garage door opener, and why/if it malfunctioned trapping the firefighters inside. Our work included developing a computer model of the air temperatures in the garage, and experimental work with door opener hardware under elevated temperature conditions. We found that the door opener operated to close the door due to the very high temperatures in the garage near the ceiling as the firefighters opened the door into the home. We provided testimony in a trial regarding our work.