Faulty electrical devices behind fires: F.E.S.A. official

Most of the country's structure fires are caused by faulty wiring and electrical appliances and devices, according to a Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.) officer.

F.E.S.A. Senior Fire Safety Officer, Tiumalu James Maua'i, told participants at a Sustainable Energy Awareness Conference on Thursday at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi Building in Sogi that the use of electrical appliances and devices was the cause of most fires in the country.

"The usage of electricity is almost becoming 100 per cent the cause of fires, many fires are caused by the use of electricity," he said. 

“The information that we firefighters gather from fires is useful for everyone.” 

He said when a home or building is destroyed by a fire, fire officials are able to determine the cause of the fire and gather additional information useful for the general public.

“There have been many incidents and there have been many lives lost because of accessibility to electricity,” said Tiumalu. “Electricity is everywhere. You can’t live without it.” 

Tiumalu was among a discussion panel comprising four government officials who spoke on energy efficient appliances and infrastructure.

The F.E.S.A. officer did a presentation on energy efficient appliances and fire hazards and how he assisted in fire investigations analysis and community awareness at the fire services authority. 

Tiumalu, who holds a bachelor's degree in community development from Victoria University in Australia, said fire investigation analysis is a discipline in itself.

“So the outcome of our fire investigation analysis is that structure fires are primarily caused by an electrical fault caused by electrical appliances,” he added. 

Appliances linked to fire hazards include refrigerators, power ports or multi-ports, washing machines, dryers, mobile or cell phones, electrical plug-in tea kettles and electrical frying pans.

There are always fire hazards when utilising electricity and petroleum using cheap electrical products, according to Tiumalu.

“There is always a fallback to using these cheap products,” he said. “Surprisingly, cell phones lead to house fires…some of these phones have been found to be faulty and they cause incidents.” 

He then urged the community to be extra careful with the appliances they use such as phones and electrical devices and to always hire a qualified electrician when wiring private homes. 

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