Four of the UK’s leading electrical organisations have joined forces to urge political leaders to ensure parity of safety for residents of high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) by mandating electrical safety checks of the electrical installation in dwellings of all tenures within these buildings.
Industry Stakeholder forum, the Electrical Safety Roundtable (ESR), charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) and Government authorised electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators NAPIT, and NICEIC have collaborated in a call for action. In England, an electrical source of ignition is responsible for 53% of all accidental dwelling fires.
Despite the dangers posed by electrical installations, the Building Safety Bill in its current form does not address the disparity of electrical safety standards among residents of differing tenures within HRRBs in England. The nature of HRRBs means that the safety of an electrical installation in one dwelling has the potential to have a life changing impact on multiple other dwellings nearby. This is due to the high possibility of fire spreading.
Whilst this issue is receiving political attention and support from MPs, there has been no confirmation from the Government that meaningful change will occur, particularly in leasehold properties where the risk of faulty electrical installations does not disappear. The four organisations are calling for the government to:
Amend the Building Safety Bill to require all social rented and leaseholder dwellings in HRRBs to have an electrical safety check carried out on the electrical installation at least once every five years by a qualified and competent electrical contractor.
Mike Andrews, Chief Executive of NAPIT Group comments: “NAPIT is committed to enhancing electrical safety standards throughout the UK. The electrical industry has united to highlight the inconsistency in monitoring and managing electrical safety in High-Rise Residential Buildings and calls on the Government to consider the impact of not acting to resolve this. Residents’ safety is paramount and requiring all dwellings within High-Rise Residential Buildings to be subject to the same electrical safety inspection and testing regime is crucial to parity of safety for all.”
Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, adds: “Everyone living in a multi-occupancy block can be at risk from a single incident, so it is essential that they are all protected by the highest safety standards. The level of protection should not depend on tenure. The Building Safety Bill provides the opportunity to improve the safety of hundreds of thousands of people who live in high rise buildings. With electricity causing around half of all domestic fires each year, we urge the Government to take action to introduce regular electrical checks for all residents regardless of tenure. Fire does not discriminate, and neither should safety legislation.”
Chris Pack, Chair of the Electrical Safety Roundtable in the Home Group remarks: “Improving electrical safety in the home is our passion. There is no doubt that poorly maintained electrical wiring systems are a major cause of fire. While privately rented dwellings require an electrical safety check at least once every five years, the same requirement for social rented and leaseholder owned properties does not exist. In High-Rise Residential Buildings where privately rented, social rented and leaseholder owned properties can exist side by side, only the private rented properties are subject to periodic mandatory electrical safety checks. This is illogical given the proximity of properties and the increased likelihood of fire spreading. This disparity between property types must be addressed by Government urgently to improve electrical safety and to provide residents living in these buildings confidence in the knowledge that their safety is of the highest priority.”
John O’Neill, Director of Technical Services, NICEIC says: “The electrical safety of all tenants is an absolute priority, and the requirement for mandatory checks should not come down to a question of tenure. This is especially true when dealing with High-Rise Residential Buildings where the outcomes could be far more devastating should something go wrong. So today, we are joining forces with others to urge the Government to end the tenure lottery around electrical safety in High-Rise Residential Buildings.”