October 10, 2012, Arlington, VA— In observance of Fire Prevention Week 2012, taking place October 7-13, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is providing important tips on how the public can prevent home electrical fires before they start. Central to this year’s effort is raising awareness about the importance of equipping homes with arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) technology.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an alarming 46,500 home structure fires involved an electrical failure or malfunction in 2010. These fires resulted in 420 deaths, more than 1,500 injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage. Arc faults, a dangerous condition caused by overheated or stressed electrical wiring or devices, are the cause of more than half of the reported electrical fires.
AFCIs are advanced circuit breakers that replace standard breakers in a home’s electrical service panel. These innovative devices provide a higher level of fire protection by detecting dangerous arcing conditions and shutting down the power to the affected circuit before a fire can start. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that AFCIs could prevent more than half of the home electrical fires that occur every year in the United States.
“Today’s ever-evolving electrical products and our increasing electricity demand can stress existing electrical systems, putting our homes at increased risk of arc faults and arc-induced fires,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “The safety of aging home electrical systems can easily be improved by installing AFCIs, which provide the ultimate in fire protection by preventing home electrical fires before they start.”
AFCIs have proven to be so effective that the 2011 National Electrical Code (NEC) includes requirements for AFCI installation in residential construction. The NEC requires that AFCI technology be installed for bedroom circuits as well as other living areas of the home, including living, dining, and family rooms. Though these requirements are currently limited to newly constructed homes, older homes with aging wiring systems can also benefit from the added protection of AFCIs. Depending on the size of the home, the cost to install AFCIs ranges from $140 to $350.
Emphasizing the importance of this critical electrical fire safety technology, ESFI has developed new AFCI resources for the Fire Prevention Week 2012 Toolkit. A detailed tip sheet outlines the benefits of AFCI technology, and an illustrated instruction guide provides the steps for regular testing of AFCIs in the home service panel. The Electrical Fire Safety Checklist, which can be used to help identify and correct common home electrical fire hazards, is also included in the Toolkit.
Each year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) joins with NFPA to promote fire safety during Fire Prevention Week. NFPA’s theme for this year’s campaign is “Have 2 Ways Out,” which focuses on planning for a safe escape during a fire. For more information about Fire Prevention Week, visit the NFPA website at www.firepreventionweek.org.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of the electrical hazards around us at home, work, school, and play. ESFI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.electrical-safety.org.