The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Electricals – Part 100

June 7, 2021 11:27 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 99, LWF looked the use of RCD to prevent fire before considering temporary electrical installations. In part 100, we discuss temporary installations and electrical appliances.

Electrical installations installed as a temporary measure, for instance on construction sites, are a greater fire risk than a permanent fixed installation. On a construction site, the installation is more likely to be subject to mechanical damage and it is not possible to protect the wiring in the same manner as a permanent installation. Appliances on site are also more likely to be misused.

The Wiring Regulations do not require the same level of support to be in place for cables in temporary installations as for permanent ones, although it is still a requirement that there not be a strain on joints or terminations.

Because of the additional potential for damage to temporary installations, it is necessary for it to be inspected and tested every three months. It’s also important that the cables used are suitable for the environment to which they are exposed.

A fixed wiring system offers more protection than the leads for a portable appliance. Portable appliances are used and misused in work environments, often because the building does not offer sufficient power points for the volume of appliances required in a modern office. It is common to see extension leads and multiple adaptors in office buildings, although such practices should be avoided as much as possible. The longer the lead, the more potential there is for damage to be inflicted upon it and multi-way adaptors (extension leads) can lead to overload and/or bad connections which can result in overheating and fire.

Safety inspections should note such practices in a workplace and aim to provide a more sustainable solution going forward. Additional power points may be installed and cable management techniques such as adaptable conduit systems can be easily employed to avoid trailing leads, which are more susceptible to damage.

When there is no option but to use an adaptor, the type offering a portable bank of sockets connected to a lead with a plug on the end should be used in preference to adaptors that plug directly into the socket outlet. If a cable reel extension lead is used, it must be fully unreeled and no cable should remain on the reel while the tool is in use. Overheating of the cable can result when such products are used incorrectly.

In part 101 of this series, LWF will continue to look at fire safety and electrical appliances. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

NOTE: The next blog in this series was published out of sequence, as a result, you can read it by clicking here.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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