One of the most vital additions to the updated IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2008 (introduced in January 2015 by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)) is regulation 421.1.201 which will come into effect on 1st January 2016.
This year’s amendment sets out the national standard to which all new and amended electrical installations are to comply and regulation 421.1.201 is one of a number of important changes.
As a result of this regulation, consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies will need to comply with BS EN 61439-3 and have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material or enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material.
This change comes as the result of the IET’s work with London Fire Brigade, BEAMA and Electrical Safety First, which reported that a rising number of domestic house fires were being caused as a result of consumer units catching fire. In fact, the Brigade’s records show that there has been a five-fold rise in this type of fire in the last five years.
One of the problems with some consumer units is that they can become overheated when a loose connection occurs - this sometimes results in combustion of the unit itself. With many consumer units installed under the staircases of domestic (household) premises, i.e. houses and flats, such issues can be hard to detect, and in some cases can block escape routes and impede the ability to escape if a fire does break out.