Commenting on the speculation on the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire in London last Wednesday, Phil Buckle, chief executive of the charity Electrical Safety First, has issued the following statement:
“Firstly, on behalf of us all at Electrical Safety First, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones in the fire – and to all those injured and made homeless, following this deeply disturbing incident.
“The cause – or causes – of the tragedy of Grenfell Tower are unlikely to be resolved quickly.
“One potential source of the fire has been linked to the use of plastic-encased consumer units, or fuse boxes. (Since 2016, the national standard for electrical installations – BS7671, or the IET Wiring Regulations – has required the consumer unit enclosure in homes to be made of non-combustible material ie steel, not plastic.)
“This claim has arisen as a result of a seeming increase in fires with this point of origin. But we understand this apparent upsurge is due to a change in reporting by the London Fire Brigade, rather than issues with the materials encasing the consumer unit itself.
“There have, however, been a number of reports to suggest that that a fridge may have caused the fire. While this remains unconfirmed, we understand that people – particularly those living in the 4,000 or so tower blocks in the country – might be worried about appliances in their home.
“We encourage anyone who is concerned about this to visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk for advice on product registration and safe use of household appliances.”
He added: “Electrical Safety First led the charge for regular electrical checks in private rented homes (PRS). This has now been implemented in Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland set to follow suit. We await details of how it might be implemented in England’s Housing Act.”
The charity has recently launched a campaign in Scotland to extend this safety requirement.
The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on June 14 at a 24-storey high tower block of public housing flats at north Kensington in west London.