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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention – Part 96

May 4, 2021 12:11 pm

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 95, LWF discussed arson and arson analysis. In part 96, we will talk about electrical faults and their role in causing fire.

The UK Government website’s detailed analysis of fires attended by the Fire Service states ‘of the 25,555 dwelling fires with accidental causes in year ending March 2020, 34 per cent were caused by “misuse of equipment or appliances” no change from year ending March 2019; the second largest cause category was “faulty appliances and leads” which caused 15 per cent of all accidental dwelling fires’.

It should be noted that these statistics relate to ‘dwelling fires’ and not all fires and therefore we can merely extrapolate on that data for non-domestic premises, when it is taken into account that of all the primary fires attended, domestic fires are less than half of the overall number. It should also be noted that the figures are slightly affected by the Covid-19 restrictions placed on UK residents in the first quarter of 2020.

Fires of electrical origin can be divided into three main groups:

  1. Fixed, permanent electrical installation in the building
  2. Temporary wiring and leads to portable electrical appliances
  3. Electrical appliances

A modern electrical installation which is installed and maintained in accordance with good practice is unlikely to present a fire risk unless it is abused, incorrectly modified or damaged. The first step to preventing fire caused by an electrical fault is, therefore, to ensure all installation work or modifications are completed to conform to BS 7671, which is equivalent to the IEE wiring regulations. Although not a statutory document, BS 7671 sets the standard for how electrical installations should be done in the UK (and many other countries) and enables compliance with the law.

Compliance with the regulations is also deemed to satisfy the requirements of the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988, which prohibit an electricity supply being provided to a consumer unless the installation is safe. The Wiring Regulations are concerned mainly with safety in relation to protection against fire and electrical shock.

In part 97 of this series, LWF will look at how electrical fires may be started and continue to discuss the Wiring Regulations. 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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