Fire Prevention Week: Don’t Forget Electrical Safety!

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Fire Prevention Week: Don’t Forget Electrical Safety!

Electrical safety is e-Hazard’s passion. As individuals, our #1 concern is for the safety of workers. As a company, we educate and train people in the workforce on electrical safety. We do so with the latest standards and data available. In the same spirit of safety, we want to bring attention to NFPA Fire Prevention Week.  This is a public health observance that has been in place since the NFPA began it in 1922. This observance is scheduled annually on the Sunday through Saturday in which October 9 falls.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

(The following information was taken from the Electrical Safety Foundation International website. ESFI is a supporter of the NFPA Fire Prevention Week.)

“According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrically related fires are the third leading cause for fires in the United States.  Electrical failures or malfunctions served as ignition sources for a yearly average of 45,210 home fires. These resulted in 420 deaths, 1,370 injuries and over $1.4 billion in property damage per year between 2010 and 2014.


  • The National Electrical Code has had 15 revisions since 1974, the year the average home was built. Is your home adequately protected?
  • AFCI breakers and receptacles protect against arc faults and can prevent the majority of electrical fires.
  • 52% of electrical fires are caused by an arc or short circuit
  • Call a licensed electrician to see if your home has AFCIs, and if not, have them installed. It is a great idea to add this newer protective technology to your home, no matter when it was built.¹
  • Any electrical maintenance should be performed by qualified electricians. This should ensure proper National Electrical Code compliance and general fire prevention standards
¹ Changed from original quote by author to add emphasis

In addition to the suggestions from ESFI, another electrical safety consideration involves installing and/or checking the functionality of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). These devices are designed to trip if leakage current exceeds 5 milliamperes by comparing current on the “hot” and “grounded conductor” (neutral) of a circuit. If these currents do not match, the GFCI trips. This protection can be added to a circuit whether or not an equipment grounding conductor (ground wire) is installed. GFCIs will work regardless, and add a margin of safety for personnel. Although not protecting from a fire hazard, GFCI circuits provide end-users with an extra margin of safety from electrical shock.

Recently, GFCI/AFCI circuit breakers have become available. These devices are installed in the circuit breaker panel, and provide both ground fault and arc flash protection for all downstream loads. These newer breakers are certainly the “best of both worlds” when it comes to fire and shock protection. Investing in this type of technology could very well serve to save lives in structures that otherwise might present fire or electrocution hazards if unprotected.

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars is an instructor of electrical safety, NEC, Grounding/Bonding and Arc Flash Safety courses nationwide. Read more about Ken.

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