WFRS

Warwickshire residents are advised to avoid purchasing counterfeit electrical goods due to the fire risks they pose.

The advice comes ahead of Electrical Fire Safety Week, November 22 – 28 and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging care with how residents make use of electrical good in their homes. Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are regularly called out to household fires caused by small electrical products such as extension leads and these small fires have the potential for tragic consequences. 

Tampering with electronic goods, regardless of their original quality can also pose a fire hazard. In early November, crews from WFRS were mobilised to a house fire where after some investigation it was found a disposable vape had been dismantled by a teenager and the non-rechargeable battery removed, the child had then cut a phone charger in half and stripped the wires, connecting it to the battery which he then left unattended. The battery exploded and a small fire occurred in the bedroom of the property which was fortunately out upon arrival for the attending crew. The child had watched a YouTube video which gave instructions on how to do this and not realised the dangerous nature of his actions.  

Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Fire and Rescue and Community Safety at Warwickshire County Council said: “We would advise you not to purchase household electrical items that appear to be counterfeit: look for genuine products that are CE or UKCA marked, properly labelled and with instructions from reputable traders. Fake electrical products can be particularly risky as they often contain faulty parts that can overheat and catch fire. Don’t be fooled by sophisticated packaging or exteriors as these products can lack the essential safety components. Always get electronics repaired by the manufacturers or a qualified repair technician.”

WFRS’ Safe and Well team perform checks on residents’ properties and they often remove electrical items from overloaded plug sockets and trailing leads that are plugged into other trailing leads. The team has checked and removed items with frayed leads, poor wiring with wires showing and leads that have been sat under rugs, showing signs of wear.

The Fire Service’s advice is as follows:

  • If you are shopping online, buy from a retailer that you know and trust, either direct from the manufacturer’s website or a trusted High Street name – that way if something goes wrong, you can return the product for repair or a refund.
  • If an electrical item’s price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Take care when purchasing electrical items through online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace. Fake or faulty goods can be disguised as the real thing. Check to see if sellers have the original proof of purchase and packaging.
  • Electrical products that contain rechargeable batteries can be a fire hazard, as can the charging devices themselves. Trading Standards advise buyers to only use the charger that has been specifically made for your electrical product model. Only buy from reputable traders selling genuine products and check they have a British or European safety mark when buying it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the device and don’t leave items on charge unattended for long periods and especially overnight. Don’t cover items when you are charging them as they emit heat.

For more information on keeping your home fire safe visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/firesafety

If you believe an electrical product is unsafe or dangerous, stop using it immediately and report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline, tel: 0808 223 1133 or visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/if-you-need-more-help-about-a-consumer-issue/

Published: 19th November 2021