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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Electricals – Part 101

June 1, 2021 7:49 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 100, LWF discussed the fire hazards when employing temporary electrical installations and electrical appliances. As the blog was published out of sequence, you can read part 100 by clicking here. In part 101, we continue to look at fire safety and electrical appliances.

During electrical safety inspections, some fairly simple visual checks can be undertaken. All leads to portable appliances must be inspected with any damage to the cable making it unusable, and connections to any plugs should be tight. The cord grip must make good contact with the outer sheath of cables which must not be stripped back to expose the insulation of the conductors.

Any damaged cable must be replaced and not repaired, the use of insulation tape to ‘bodge’ a repair is not acceptable. Joints in the cable should be avoided and where a cable is of insufficient length, it should be replaced with one of the correct length. It should be noted that cables that are too long should also be avoided.

While leads, plugs and extension leads are a major contributory factor for fires in electrical appliances, the appliance itself can also be a cause of fire. Faults in equipment can cause a fire to ignite, but more commonly, a fire can start because of incorrect use of an appliance. Many types of electrical equipment generate heat during normal operation and should be kept well away from any combustible materials.

Electric fires or heaters used improperly can be a common cause of fire, but also, soldering irons and incandescent light fittings, for example, can be an issue. A proper stand should be used with a soldering iron and a neon indicator light should be fitted to all sockets used for a source of black heat such as incandescent light fittings.

Light fittings should also be spaced apart from any source of combustible material. Much of the energy fed into a tungsten filament lamp converts into heat rather than light. In the case of fluorescent light fittings, while a lot of heat is not generated through normal operation, a fault in the control gear can cause a fire. It is necessary for them to be mounted onto a non-combustible surface.

Any appliance using a motor must be continuously ventilated to prevent temperature increases and the ventilation must not be obstructed.

In part 102 of this series, LWF will continue to look at how you can avoid fire when using 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.

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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