“Keeping people safe from fire means understanding and responding to changes in the risks that can cause fire, especially in the home.”

First published:
17 July 2018
Last updated:

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Those are the words of Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies as he provides an update on a new report on a recent rise in domestic electrical distribution fires.

Fires in Wales have long followed a downward trend, and are now at an all-time low. Sustaining that trend requires a full understanding of the changing risks of fire, and action by our Fire and Rescue Services to tackle those risks. This is especially important for fires in the home, which account for the great majority of deaths and injuries from fire.

Last year we detected a concerning trend in domestic electrical distribution fires – for example those starting in cabling, sockets, meters and fuse boxes. Unlike other known sources of dwelling fires, these are showing a sustained increase. The Cabinet Secretary committed to undertaking research into this increase and is publishing the findings today.

Alun Davies said:

“Although the trend which this report highlights is concerning, the overall risk remains low.

“Many of the fires analysed in this report occurred in South Wales, reflecting the way in which the population of Wales is distributed. It does not imply any criticism at all of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. There, as elsewhere in Wales, house fires overall are in sustained decline, and I expect the Fire Service to act on the insights in this report to help maintain that trend.”

Commenting on the report, Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of leading safety charity Electrical Safety First said:

“We applaud the Welsh Government’s objective of determining the causes of electrical fires across the country – particularly its emphasis on improved data collection. 

“However, the research to date has raised additional questions and highlighted the fact that further safety awareness work needs to be undertaken with the Welsh public. Electrical Safety First is committed to working with Government and the Welsh Fire and Rescue Services, to raise awareness of electrical safety and ensure people can keep themselves, their families and their homes safe in Wales.”

People can help keep their homes safe from these kinds of fires by following these simple rules:

 

  • Don’t overload circuits or use multi-plug adaptors – only one appliance or device per wall socket.  If you have to use multi-socket extension leads, make sure they have a separate built-in fuse.
  • Don’t attempt to maintain or adapt electrical installations, or install hard-wired appliances like showers, storage heaters or cookers, yourself. Hire a qualified electrician instead.
  • If you have an old-style fuse box with plug-in fuses, try to have it replaced with a modern one which uses circuit breakers. Never try to repair fuses yourself.
  • Have your whole electrical installation properly checked by a qualified.