This paper proposes that the advanced Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) techniques and methodology currently used by the automotive industry for product and process design can be reversed and used as an effective failure/root cause analysis tool. This paper will review FMEA methodologies, explain the newest advanced FMEA methodologies that are now being used in the automotive industry, and will then explain how this methodology can be effectively reversed and used as a failure analysis and fire cause determination tool referred to as a “reverse FMEA” (rFMEA). This paper will address the application of these techniques and methodology to vehicle fire cause determination. This methodology is particularly suited to situations where multiple potential fire causes are contained within an established area of origin. NFPA 921 Guide for Fire & Explosion Investigations [1] and NFPA 1033 Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator [2], often referenced by the fire investigation community, prescribe following a systematic approach utilizing the scientific method for fire origin and cause determinations. The rFMEA methodology is proposed as a fire investigation tool that assists in that process. This “reverse FMEA” methodology will then be applied to a hypothetical, illustrative case study to demonstrate its application.

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