Electricity is an indispensable,but dangerous, two-edged sword. It is a basic element of residential life, but careless use of electricity can result in electrical fires. It provides the energy to powered the machinery of today’s contemporary home, from lights to heating and cooling systems. It is a part of our lives that most of us take for granted, but rarely understand its destructive potential.
Residential electrical fires caused an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries and $1.1 billion in property damage. It accounted for 7 percent of all residential building fires in the U.S. from 2009 through 2011. The term electrical fires is defined as those fires that include electrical distribution, wiring, transformers, meter boxes, power switching gear, outlets, cords, plugs, surge protectors, electric fences, lighting fixtures, and electrical arcing as the source of heat.
Electrical fires occur frequently throughout the U.S., causing injury, claiming lives, and resulting in property losses. A Residential Building Electrical Fire study sponsored by the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System briefly addresses the nature specific fire or fire-related issues and highlighted these important findings:
Residential Building Electrical Fires (2009-2011).
Findings from this report:
- An estimated 25,900 residential building electrical fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year. These fires caused an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries and $1.1 billion in property loss.
- Residential building electrical fires resulted in greater dollar loss per fire than residential building nonelectrical fires.
- Residential building electrical fires occurred most often in one- and two-family dwellings (84 percent).
- Residential building electrical fires occurred most often in the colder months of January and December (at 11 percent each month).
- In 79 percent of residential building electrical fires, the fire spread beyond the object where the fire started.
- The leading items most often first ignited in residential building electrical fires were electrical wire/cable insulation (30 percent) and structural member or framing (19 percent).
- The leading factors contributing to the ignition of residential building electrical fires were other electrical failure, malfunction (41 percent), unspecified short-circuit arc (25 percent), and short-circuit arc from defective, worn insulation (12 percent).
- Smoke alarms were present in 50 percent and automatic extinguishing systems were present in 2 percent of electrical fires that occurred in occupied residential buildings.
These fires caused an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries and $1.1 billion in property damage.
The Residential Building Electrical Fire Problem.
Electrical fires are fires that involve the flow of electric current or static electricity and are caused by electrical system failures, appliance defects, incorrectly installed wiring, misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. These fires are insidious. Electrical fires that start in walls can smolder for some time and cause smoke to not be seen immediately and detection to be delayed. By the time smoke is seen and fire is detected, the flames may have already spread behind and within walls. As a result, electrical fires have the potential to spread further and cause more damage and injuries. In addition, electrical fires can be particularly tricky to put out. Since they involve electricity, and water conducts electricity, using water to put out the fire can cause electrocution unless power is reliably disconnected.
Today’s electrical demands can overburden the electrical system in older homes, putting them at a higher risk of an electrical fire. This may be particularly true for homes more than 40 years old that have older wiring and electrical systems and devices. There is also the likelihood that older homes may not comply with more modern electric code requirements, which puts them at an elevated risk of hazardous conditions that could lead to an electrical fire. Eventually, given enough time, any home can be at risk of an electrical fire as wire insulation ages, connections loosen, receptacles and switches come loose or wear out, and oil and dirt cause electrical components to overheat.
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Goodiel Electric LLC.
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In Martin County, Goodiel Electric, LLC. services Hobe Sound, Indiantown, Jensen Beach, Jupiter Island, North River Shores, Ocean Breeze Park, Palm City, Port Salerno, Rio, Sewalls Point and Stuart.
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