Charity calls for electrical safety checks & white goods register in tower blocks

29 April 2020

Call to action comes as Fire Safety Bill is due to be debated in Parliament this week.

The Government must give serious consideration to introducing electrical checks in tower blocks around the country, a safety charity is warning.

The demand for the Government to “check and protect” high rise buildings to prevent a serious electrical fire, by consumer protection charity, Electrical Safety First, comes ahead of MPs debating the introduction of a new Fire Safety Bill[i], which will seek to better protect people in their homes.

The Charity is proposing two amendments to the Bill, and is seeking Government backing for both to be included within the legislation. 

Electrical Safety First believes that the introduction of  mandatory electrical safety checks of homes in tower blocks, regardless of tenure, and the requirement to hold a register documenting white goods, such as tumble dryers and fridge units within a tower block, will reduce the risk of catastrophic high rise fires occurring in the future.

The current outline for the proposed legislation focuses primarily on the structure of external walls, cladding, balconies, windows and doors. The Charity believes that focusing only on these elements, although vital, fails to tackle the source of ignition.

Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First commented: “The Bill as it stands fails to focus on the cause of a fire, putting the emphasis on materials and fire doors only. In order for the Bill to effectively protect residents in their homes the Government should adopt our proposals to include mandatory electrical safety checks, not only to reduce the risk should a fire occur, but to help prevent fires in the first place. It’s now time to check and protect our tower blocks.”

The latest analysis of Home Office fire data by the Charity shows 355 accidental electrical fires occurred across England last year in purpose-built high rise buildings that include 10 or more flats[ii].  This figure has increased over the past three years, with 301 electrical fires recorded during 2016/17 and 309 recorded during 2017/18.

Previous fires related to electricity and white goods in high rise tower blocks include those at Shepherds Court, involving a recalled tumble dryer, as well as Lakanal House, caused by an electrical fault in a TV. It is also thought that the initial source of ignition of the fire at Grenfell Tower was electrical.

The Charity believes a register of major white goods in tower blocks will go some way towards ensuring that appliances affected by a safety issue may be more easily tracked down and any risk they pose, minimised.

[i]The Government’s outline of the Fire Safety Bill can be found at the following link

[ii] Dwelling fires dataset – Home Office dwellings fire dataset filtered to reveal accidental electrical fires of which the source of ignition was deemed electrical, recorded in purpose built high rise buildings compromising of 10 or more flats broken down over the past 3 years.