According to the US Fire Administration, arc-faults are “the principal electrical failure mode resulting in fire”. Well, what exactly is an arc-fault? An arc-fault is an unintentional arcing in a circuit which creates high intensity heating that can lead to an electrical fire.
It is well known that electrical fires can take many lives and damage or destroy property. Fires in hospitals and healthcare facilities can be particularly dangerous due to the presence of oxygen and other flammable substances, and the challenge of evacuating patients who are not mobile or are already in critical condition. To guarantee that the utmost means of protection are in place, it’s important to understand what causes arcing in the first place.
Arc-faults can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as when nails or screws are inadvertently driven into wires behind walls, or when wire insulation begins cracking due to age or heat. They can also occur when electrical cords on appliances, lamps or other equipment become damaged by doors closing on them or young children pulling on them, or if they are inadvertently pushed against a heat source. To help prevent electrical fires caused by arc-faults, Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters, or AFCIs, were designed to detect potentially hazardous arcing and quickly cut off power to the downstream circuit.
AFCIs are now required by the National Electrical Code® in residential areas and it is anticipated that they will become mandated in commercial and industrial applications in the near future. We’re introducing the industry’s first AFCI with Hospital Grade, Tamper-Resistant outlets – perfect for use in patient care rooms, waiting rooms, and assisted living facilities to help reduce the likelihood of a building’s electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire.
Do you think AFCIs should be required by the NEC® in commercial and industrial areas for preventive measures? Share your feelings with us.