The LWF Blog
Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention – Part 99May 24, 2021 10:55 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 98, LWF discussed electrical fires and residual current devices. In part 99, we continue to discuss the use of RCD to prevent fire before considering temporary electrical installations.
The most common function of the RCD is to protect against electric shock and it is set to operate when a leakage current of 30 mA is detected. While a current of 30 mA could theoretically still cause death in a person if it were to continue, the current is interrupted very quickly at that point, so any serious injury is avoided.
In some instances, an RCD can lead to nuisance tripping, due to normal leakage through insulation and certain electrical equipment. An increased level of tripping current, such as 100 mA may still be adequate to protect against the risk of fire and would be less subject to nuisance tripping. Because of the implicit risks involved in selecting and installing an RCD in premises, expert advice should always be sought. Where they are installed, regular testing of the devices is essential to ensure correct operation.
Electrical Installation and Maintenance Requirements
All electrical design, installation and maintenance must be carried out by competent and qualified persons. The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) provides a list of approved contractors who undertake to carry out any work in accordance with the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671 Wiring Regulations). The work of the NICEIC approved contractors is also subject to inspection by the NICEIC.
In England and Wales, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) offers a guarantee scheme covering its membership, which means that any work undertaken which does not comply with the Wiring Regulations will be rectified. In Scotland, a similar scheme operates through SELECT.
Proper maintenance of electrical installations is a legal requirement and so it should be ensured that a designated person is responsible for the installation. Records must be kept and updated when any modifications take place. While some companies fail to arrange for adequate periodic inspection and testing of electrical installations, it should be considered a high priority, as early identification of any issues can prevent fire and the associated danger and financial losses. It should also be noted that a failure to adequately protect a workforce in this manner, amongst others, can lead to prosecution of the Responsible Person (or most senior executive where none has been elected) under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in non-domestic premises.
In part 100 of this series, LWF will look at temporary installations 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.
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.