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How is Fire Caused by Electricity?

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how is fire caused by electricity?

Fire caused by electricity is a serious concern for businesses. It poses a big risk for the safety of staff, not to mention the potential cost of repairing damage. In this post, we’ll explore how electricity can cause a fire – and how to minimise the risk of that happening on your premises…

Does electricity cause many fires?

When it comes to the potential causes of a fire, many people think of gas cooking appliances or cigarettes that haven’t been fully put out. But in fact, fire caused by electricity accounts for a significant number of incidents.

While commercial statistics aren’t available, electricity caused over half of accidental dwelling fires in England. That proportion could be even higher for businesses, given that the top cause of domestic fires – cooking appliances – are much less prevalent in commercial settings other than restaurants, cafes and so on.

In short, yes – electricity causes lots of fires, both domestically and commercially. Here’s how…

How is fire caused by electricity?

The process behind electrical fires is pretty straightforward. For one of the reasons below, electrical current escapes it’s usual, safe environment. The resulting spark can then ignite nearby materials like walls, flooring or skirting boards.

Fixed wiring

Your fixed wiring installation is what carries electricity around your property. If it doesn’t meet modern standards, it could cause an electrical fire. That’s because old wiring systems can’t cope with the increased demand of today’s businesses. Circuits may become overloaded, for example, without functioning breakers ready to shut them down.


One of the most common ways fires are caused by electricity is through faulty sockets. As time goes on, wiring can become loose, which allows current to escape.


Another cause of current escaping are appliances themselves. This is exactly why regular PAT testing is so important, ensuring appliances big and small are safe to use.


Overheating can also cause electric fires. When wiring or appliances get too hot, materials can melt, leaving wires exposed. It’s then only a matter of time before it catches fire.


Don’t forget lighting. Fires can break out if bulbs are used with a high wattage that exceeds the capability of light fixtures. LED lighting is a much safer option, converting a much lower wattage into the same brightness of a traditional bulb.

Alternatively, electrical lighting equipment can act as a heat source, causing nearby materials to combust.

Minimise the risk of fire caused by electricity

Without a doubt, the best way to protect your business from electrical fires is to make sure your installation is inspected regularly, and all necessary repairs made.

Volta Compliance can do exactly that as part of an Electric Installation Condition Report. Our team will inspect every component of your fixed wiring installation, highlight any issues, and repair any problems.

Sound good? Give us a call on 0113 397 1361 or email [email protected] to arrange an inspection.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.