How do electrical fires start and how can they be prevented?

Electrical fires are account for 6.3% of residential fires, and many industrial fires as well. Using electricity is required for modern living, so it is important to identify the causes of these types of fires, and what can be done to prevent them. In the workplace, these types of fires can cause millions in damage, and put the lives of all your employees in danger. Pinpointing where the greatest risks are in your facility, and taking steps to minimize them, will help to keep everyone safe.

Common Sources of Electrical Fires

Anywhere that electricity is being used has the potential to cause a fire. The following are some of the most common sources of electrical fires:

  • Extension Cords – Extension cords are often used to get electricity where it is needed. Unfortunately, these cords typically run across the floor or through other unprotected areas. They can then get damaged, resulting in an exposed wire that can ignite flammable material nearby.
  • Overloading a Circuit – Plugging in too many things onto a single circuit can result in a fire. While a circuit breaker should prevent this, it is still a risk because it can cause the wires or other components to overheat.
  • Faulty Outlets – If an electrical outlet is not properly installed, or is somehow damaged, it is possible that it will cause a spark or other event that can cause a fire.
  • Light Fixtures – If you install light bulbs that use too many watts for the fixture, or if the fixture is isn’t properly ventilated, it can result in a fire.

Preventing Electrical Fires in the Workplace

The best way to prevent electrical fires is to make sure that all electrical work is done by a trained electrician. Many companies try to save money by having other employees perform simple electrical work, but that is quite dangerous. One small mistake can result in a fire that costs thousands, or even more. In addition, you should have any electrical systems inspected and tested for potential issues regularly so you can spot problems and address them before a fire occurs.

 

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Additional Resources

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Electrical Panel Labeling Guide
 
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