Electrical fires – whats the risk?

Fires started by electrical units are one of the most common causes of fire! But what can you do as a business owner to lower the risk of a fire starting from an electrical source?

So the first thing you need to consider is the fire risk from the main electrical installation. This is generally your fuse board where your responsibility starts. Depending on the type of business you run you need to have a competent electrician test the board and circuits. If you work in an office for example you need to have the tests completed every 5 years and if you run a factory it is every 3 years. These test are called “fixed wire testing” and you should receive a certificate and possibly a repairs list. Action any repairs that need to be done and keep all records for the fire risk assessment review.

Next is the Portable Appliance Test (PAT) of all portable items which have plug. Whilst this test is not a legal requirement it is best practise and recommended by fire risk assessors. Again an electrician can do this for you. It is important that you remember to get all the plugged items checked which means those Christmas decorations and oil heaters which are stored away need to come out!

fire risk assessments NI 2017

Electrical fire risk

Also remember that any items brought into work should be checked. From mobile phone chargers to laptops and projectors, these are still electrical hazards.
If the plugged item you have bought has a BS mark or a CE, it is good for the first year, but if you buy an item from abroad it should receive a PAT on purchase before use!

So that’s the electrical checks done so what is next . . .

Your day-to-day management of fire safety!

Make sure you only switch on the electrical units you need, switching all the non-essentials off at the end of the working day. Keep cables tidy and uncoiled to prevent a build up of heat.
Remove any items that are faulty or have any damage.

Lastly, ensure electric’s are part of the fire risk assessment for your premises and included in the fire risk management!

Check out this video of an electrical fire starting in a restaurant. Would your staff fire training cover this incident?


Let me know your thoughts!