London Fire Brigade Announces Fuse Board Regulations

An average of five house fires per week are started by these consumer products, according to the department.

New regulations announced by the London Fire Brigade attempt to address the rising number of house fires started by fuse boards – already averaging five every week. This is five times more than occurred five years ago, according to the brigade.

The increase is attributed to recalled products that the homeowners have not responded to, its announcement states.

"Another major source of these fires are wires that are not being properly secured when the consumer unit is being installed or worked on. Moreover, manufacturers have shifted to mainly using molded plastics for the casings of consumer units, instead of metal or rigid plastics, like Bakelite, which were used previously and which have much more flame retardance," it states. "Worse still, many fuse boards are located under the stairs so a fire starting in faulty wiring could spread to coats and other household items meaning the fire goes undetected until it's too late."

The brigade has been working with Electrical Safety First and the manufacturers' association to introduce a new wiring regulation to improve fire safety in homes and to highlight fire risks. It would take effect in January 2015.

"We are pleased with the new regulations, as the brigade has long argued that new fuse boards in the home should be more robust. Manufacturers will now be obliged to stop using molded plastics for the casings, which are not especially flame retardant. However, the problem remains that in many homes across London, poorly wired or faulty fuse boards pose a significant fire hazard that is often out of sight and out of mind," said London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner Rita Dexter.

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