Fire prevention, AFDD

Eaton_Safety_AFDD+ (Orta)“Of all fires in commercial buildings, it is estimated that 25% are electrical fires – and many of these could have been prevented or contained through improved safety standards and the use of new technology. Some types of fire can be detected at an early stage, but in the event of an arc fault the potential for fire can develop over an extended period, with no obvious signs. Arc faults are a high resistance fault which can occur through general breakdown of an installation over its lifespan, through general wear and tear on portable loads and their cables or through various forms of direct mechanical damage i.e piercing of cables with drills or nails or rodent damage.

Fortunately, advances in technology have now made detection and isolation possible before a fire occurs. The only technology capable of detecting and isolating these types of faults are arc fault detection devices (AFDDs). These devices work by digitally monitoring the circuit for specific frequencies that can indicate an arc fault. They can provide critical all-in-one protection against electrical fires in homes and buildings by combining built-in arc fault detection, overcurrent (MCB) and earth leakage current protection (RCD) in one compact device to ensure maximum safety for residents.

Eaton_Firefighter (Orta)Arc fault detection technology is already being widely used in countries such as the US and it is estimated that the technology could have prevented as many as 50% of incidents. However, the UK is yet to embrace this technology fully. It has only just been recommended this past year – and there are still no mandatory requirements around its usage. More must be done to push the implementation of these devices in higher risk commercial and residential buildings. The commissioning of the Hackitt report post-Grenfell does highlight a potential shift in priorities and is a step in the right direction. Now the government and industry must take a more holistic approach to fire safety, considering what can be done to mitigate the impact across the four different stages of an incident: prevention, detection, alert and evacuate. Hopefully the installation of AFDD technology will soon become common practice for future construction projects, bringing about a welcome boost to the safety of our buildings in the UK.”

Bylined author

Marc Gaunt

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