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Percentage of fires related to electrical?


Jaykline
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Originally posted by Jaykline

I'm trying to find out what percentage of residential fires are related to electrical system problems. Does anyone have suggestions about where to look? Thanks.

I'm not sure who keeps track of that sort of information. Have you tried starting with your local fire department?

The local public information officer for the Portland fire department once told me that "electrical" is the default cause of a fire unless they discover another cause.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks Gerry. A great link! That's exactly what I was looking for. I'm a little surprised by the results. I expected "electrical distribution" to be higher on the list. My interest in the answer is related to what I'm finding during my inspections. A lot of homes built in the early 70's - lots of Federal Pacific panels - Lots of homeowner fixes - and no code enforcement. Jim - I did check with our local volunteer Fire Department, and they told me the same thing. Default is electrical.

Thanks again for the information.

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Originally posted by Jaykline

I'm trying to find out what percentage of residential fires are related to electrical system problems. Does anyone have suggestions about where to look? Thanks.

Congratulations. You actually want to base your decisions on knowledge, rather than arm-waving opinion. You'll find that electrical systems are damn safe, especially compared to other risks in the home.

Try the NFPA. They keep detailed stats on the causes of fires.

http://www.nfpa.org/Research/index.asp

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I have been told by a lead arson investigator that huge percentages of fires are arson, they know they can't prove it, so it goes in the electrical fire bin.

When I took fire science, we sat around and tried to start fires w/ amperage generators; it's extremely hard. Things like space heaters get thrown into the "electrical fire" bin also.

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I was surfing around researching K&T about a month ago when I found an article about K&T's insulation issue. One part of the article described how the insulation industry in California had paid to have research done covering all of the residential fires in the previous 10 years. They were hoping to show that a very small percentage were related to insulating around K&T wiring. The research found none. Not one fire attributed to K&T, period.

I ran across a second article where the Canadian government did something similar, and found only 2. They noted that both were found to be due to the homeowner altering the system themselves.

As old as all of that stuff is, I was very surprized.

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I was surfing around researching K&T about a month ago when I found an article about K&T's insulation issue. One part of the article described how the insulation industry in California had paid to have research done covering all of the residential fires in the previous 10 years. They were hoping to show that a very small percentage were related to insulating around K&T wiring. The research found none. Not one fire attributed to K&T, period.

I ran across a second article where the Canadian government did something similar, and found only 2. They noted that both were found to be due to the homeowner altering the system themselves.

As old as all of that stuff is, I was very surprized.

Brian G.

Very interesting. I believe it. Having grown up w/knob & tube in all manner of hacked together alterations, I can personally attest to it's amazing resilience.

If all it was handling was lightbulbs & clocks, and it was unaltered, it's fine. Unfortuneately, so many other things occur, particuarly it's alteration.

Those sorts of studies tend to frighten me, as it puts an open ended allowance on the stuff. When does it become too old & unsafe? I guess we have to wait for some fires.

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Originally posted by kurt

Those sorts of studies tend to frighten me, as it puts an open ended allowance on the stuff. When does it become too old & unsafe? I guess we have to wait for some fires.

Agreed. I present that information along with the traditional warnings about how outdated it is and how much safer a new grounded system would be. There has to come a time when it's just plain shot.

Brian G.

the California story

http://hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/91/910504.html

the Canadian story

http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/file ... insurance/

I was a tad off on my memory, it was 3 fires they found.

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Hi,

Over the past 6 - 8 months I've been finding that some insurance companies out here are refusing to insure a home with K & T, until it's all been taken out and replaced, while others are charging significantly higher premiums. I now pass that on to my clients during the inspection and in my reports. After all, it doesn't matter if the stuff will continue to perform well for a hundred more years, if the insurance companies refuse to insure the home, the question of its replacement is moot.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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One thing is for sure. Wiring insulation does not get better with age. K&T needs free air space in which to disipate the heat created or the insulation will deteriorate, unlike more modern NMS.

FEMA facts: In a typical year there are over 90,000 fires caused by electrical problems. 700 deaths and $700,000,000 in property damage.

The United States Fire Administration

(USFA) would like consumers to know

that there are simple steps you can take

to prevent the loss of life and property

resulting from electrical fires.

THE PROBLEM

During a typical year, home electrical

problems account for 90,000 fires, over

700 deaths, and $700 million in property

losses. Home electrical wiring

causes twice as many fires as electrical

appliances.

THE FACTS

December is the most dangerous

month for electrical fires. Fire deaths

are highest in winter months which

call for more indoor activities and

increase in lighting, heating, and

appliance use. Most electrical wiring

fires start in the bedroom.

THE CAUSE

Electrical Wiring

• Most electrical fires result from

problems with “fixed wiringâ€

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