Health & Safety 

Electrical Fire Safety in High Rise or Multi Occupancy Buildings

Recent events have thrown into sharp relief the implications of an electrical fire in a high rise building. Notwithstanding the rapid spread of the horrific fire at Grenfell being exacerbated by the cladding, early indications are that the original blaze was caused by an electrical fire - in this instance a fridge.
It is clear that electrical safety is a well-worn topic and the length and breadth of legislation that regulates earthing, flash and creep and clearances is substantial.


What seems to be less evident is the fire safety of electrical appliances; i.e. how likely in an electrical device is to catch or start a fire. This is clearly very apparent in the heating appliance sector.
Most of us will have seen the ‘DO NOT COVER’ stickers displayed prominently on electrical room heaters; from convector fan heaters or kitchen plinth blowers, to storage heaters, to radiant panels. This seems to be the only significant requirement to prevent a fire starting, as covering electrical heaters can result in overheating.
Thermal fuses may help, but if a heater is covered for a considerable time, these too may fail, or at the very least fail open circuit permanently meaning the heater is scrap. Fail safe, but worthless. At worst, it may fail closed circuit in which case a fire is almost certain. At present, there is not a standardized test to evaluate how an electrical room heater reacts when covered over (believe it or not!).

Here at DiscreteHeat, we developed our own thermal test, which involved covering our ThermaSkirt e electric skirting heating with 400mm of loft insulation over a 1m section of a 3m piece. Thermal probes were then attached to the skirting surface along its length to monitor the surface temperature.
The ThermaSkirt e was then energized and run at maximum power. Under normal operating conditions, the ThermaSkirt e runs slightly cooler than a conventional central heating radiator at around 65°C. However, when covered over, any electrical heater will rapidly rise in temperature as it cannot dissipate the heat energy. Depending on the nature of the covering material this can lead to smells, smoke and even combustion.

However, ThermaSkirt has a unique patented heating element that self regulates at around 95°C, over which it ceases to generate further heat. Whilst this would be very hot to the touch -bearing in mind it is covered by the obstruction- it is well below the ignition point of even the most combustible materials of around 200°C.
This self-regulation only applies to the area of the ThermaSkirt e that is covered over – the rest of the system functions normally. This then avoids the nuisance tripping of conventional electrical and thermal fuses that provide a degree of protection in conventional electric heaters.
The beauty and simplicity of the ThermaSkirt system, is that it is inherently fail-safe, i.e. there are no manufactured components or devices that could potentially fail and cause a fire. Even if left covered over for weeks, the system would not overheat, and once any obstruction is removed, the system reverts to functioning normally.
For this reason, we believe the ThermaSkirt e is the safest electrical room heater on the market. It has been tested to the relevant room heater standards of EN 60335-2-30, as well as being EMC and RoHS compliant. It carries the CE mark and comes with a 5 year warranty as standard.


DiscreteHeat Company Limited
1 Victoria Works Industrial Estate
Coal Pit Lane, Atherton
Manchester, M46 0FY

01942 88 00 60
01942 66 51 04

VAT# 884427392
Company Reg# 5594330