Back to Speakers

Dr John Allum

Regional Director

John has a degree in Analytical Chemistry from Plymouth University and a PhD in Emulsion Explosives from Cranfield University. John joined a firm of consulting scientists and engineers in 2001, before establishing HFS-Asia in 2011. In 2016 HFS-Asia, merged with Hawkins, a very well-known scientific consultancy.

He has been involved in the investigation of over 600 fire and explosion incidents, ranging from small domestic premises to large industrial plants. This has included over 300 shipping incidents. John has investigated a wide variety of marine incidents on ships and yachts, including fires in containers, engine rooms, and bulk cargoes. He has provided advice on ‘live’ ship fires involving cargoes such as DRI, coal and agricultural products. In addition, John has dealt with a number of cargo contamination cases, including natural product spoilage, chemical reactions, liquid and gas cargo contamination, sample taking, interpreting analytical results, and supervising the cleanup.

He has provided advice on the storage and use of damaged explosives, the appropriate use of explosives in wreck removal and investigations following explosions potentially involving the use of explosives.

He has significant experience of agricultural bulk cargo claims, including determining causes of product deterioration, cargo liquefaction (fluorspar, nickel ore, iron ore, fines etc.) and providing advice on the carriage and care of the cargo. This work involves supervising surveyors, agricultural scientists, and sampling experts as well as providing reports suitable for use in both local courts and London Arbitrations. John has provided advice on incidents involving IMDG CODE and IMSBC CODE cargoes, including chemical and dangerous cargoes.

He has appeared as an expert witness in fire investigation cases and chemical incidents, including in Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Norway, and UK. This has involved attendance in both court and arbitration, giving expert testimony. He is currently the Regional Director of our Hong Kong office.

John Allum
Swabbing and sampling following a suspected terrorist incident in The Philippines

  1. Very brief introduction to me, and the work that Hawkins undertakes
  2. Outline of events that occurred – explosion at a shopping mall in Manila, 2007
  3. Details of parties involved and various interests (these will be very different to those in the security sector as the investigation was for insurance purposes
  4. The situation that was presented to us and initial investigation work undertaken
  5. Swabbing and sampling post-incident –why do it (not always a given); how to select sites to sample; how to take swabs; where and how to send samples for analysis
  6. The results of the analysis – comparison of the various laboratories (samples sent to Fort Halsted, Singapore Government, US independent test laboratory plus US, Israeli and Australian government) and the problems with (some of) the results
  7. The results of our full investigation into the incident
  8. Other major incidents involving swab sampling following explosions that we have looked at – Tianjin, Yemen and on-board ships
  9. Conclusions on how the investigations are undertaken from the insurance side and how they differ from Government investigations