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How are electrical fires started and how can we prevent them?

Sadly, electrical fires are extremely common and are becoming even more common as time goes by. Fires frequently occur both in commercial spaces as well as residential spaces, with more than 20,000 accidental fires happening in the UK each year.

There are just under 50 deaths from electrical fires each year, as well as as much as £100m in damages caused by electrical fires.

What is an electrical fire?

An electrical fire can be categorized as a malfunction or a failure within the electrical components of an electrical system, equipment or machinery that leads to fire being created. The fire starts in the electrical wiring, cables, the circuit breakers, as well as in components. Fires also originate in the electrical panels, after the circuits become overloaded or due to deterioration. The panel and circuits will become overloaded when distribution of electricity is incompetent. Perhaps unexpectedly, lighting equipment can also be a factor, serving as a destructible heat source when placed too closely to materials that are easily combustible.

What are the biggest causes of electrical fires?

As the world becomes more technologically dependent, we are using more electricity than ever before, and our usage is only increasing. We have a huge reliance on electricity to power our homes, our businesses and our general day to day living. We cannot afford to be too comfortable with electrical equipment or systems just because they appear to be working fine. There will be wear and tear, sometimes unidentified, which poses a serious electrical and fire hazard risk. It is incredibly important to understand the common causes of electrical fires and follow the preventive measures that maintain that your electrical systems do not fall victim to the ever present risk of fire.

Poor maintenance:

Without a doubt poor maintenance or a total lack of maintenance, is the main cause of electrical fires both in homes and in commercial or public buildings. To counteract the chance of electrical fault that leads to fire, regular maintenance checks and inspections on all electrical aspects of your building will significantly reduce the risk of electrical fires.

Wires can always be expected to deteriorate over time, frays in the wiring or loosening can create dangerous hotspots in your systems which over time will create electrical fire hazards. For commercial or public buildings, the best methods for insuring safety of fixed electrical installations is having Fixed Wire Testing with a view to getting your EICR report, confirming the safety and compliance of the electrical installations in your building. PAT Testing is best advised for the testing of all portable/movable electrical equipment.

Old electrical systems and equipment:

As mentioned above, equipment and components that age will deteriorate, as well as regular wear and tear, this can be detrimental to the cause of electrical fire hazards. Aged equipment alone leads to a startling amount of electrical fires.

According to Electrical Safety First figures:

“Nine out of 10 (89%) electrical fires are caused by electrical products. A relatively small percentage (11%) are caused by faults in installations* or by people not using installations properly”.

To prevent this, having the electrics in your business and your home checked regularly and by taking simple precautions with all electrical systems, equipment, and appliances, you will massively reduce the risk of electrical fire hazard.

If you require any support or advice with the electrical and fire safety in your building, contact - 01604 696113 today.

Make an enquiry by clicking the following text - Get A Quote


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