Electrical contractors blame fire on poor materials (Friday, March 5, 2010 Back Page)

THE Ghana Electrical Contractors Association (GECA) has observed that substandard electrical materials and gadgets brought into the country contribute to the fire outbreaks in the country.

It has, subsequently, called on the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) to ensure that electrical materials brought into the country meet international standards.

It also appealed to the government to empower the association to conduct a maintenance and engineering audit of all electrical installations in the country to ensure that lives and properties were not lost in blazes.

The President of the association, Mr Joseph B. Walker, made the observation after a seminar on proper electrical maintenance and installation and their relationship to fire outbreaks in the country.

The seminar, which was attended by members of the GECA, was aimed at educating them on the causes and prevention of electrical fire outbreaks.
Mr Walker called for the separation of electrical contracts from building contracts to ensure that only qualified contractors dealt with electrical installations.

Earlier, an electrical consultant, Mr George Boateng, addressing the participants, had emphasised the need for consumer education on household electrical maintenance in order to prevent more fires in the future.
Other common causes, he said, included overuse of air conditioners and extension cords which could cause electricity outlets to become overloaded and lead to fires.

He said fires were often caused by ignorance, as some people chose to install their own electrical connections, instead of hiring professional contractors.

Mr Boateng also recommended that people turn off electrical equipment during power outages.

He said consumers should regularly audit their homes to make sure their electrical outlets and appliances were installed and working properly, adding, “The only antidote to electrical fire outbreaks is to ensure regular maintenance and the use of genuine electricalmaterials.”

When asked whether the ECG would support the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission’s recent suggestion that the ECG accept responsibility for fires caused by faulty electrical work performed by contractors, he said the association had mixed feelings about the proposal.

He stated that it would be difficult to prove that a fire had been caused by electrical work, since the evidence would likely be destroyed in the fire, but added, “Most electrical problems are caused by consumers, instead of professional contractors.”

The Vice-President of the association, Mr Godfred Deku, said it was important that the government consider re-wiring all structures that were over 20 years old.

According to the Electrical Supply and Distribution (Technical and Operational) Rules, 2005, an applicant applying for electricity supply to his premises shall ensure that the electrical installations at the premises are carried out by a qualified electrician duly certified by a licensed electricity distribution utility or a contractor who is a member of the GECA or other similar body recognised by a licensed electricity distributor.

However, some households and institutions breach the law by employing non-professionals whose conduct exposes lives and properties to danger in the event of a fire outbreak.

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