With increasing urbanisation, the spectre of electrical fires looms large, posing a grave threat to public safety. During July to December 2023, 112 fire incidents were reported across India, resulting in 131 fatalities and 164 injuries, according to Building Safety Fire Tracker by the International Copper Association India.

Residential and commercial areas were significantly affected, with 40 incidents reported in residential areas and 72 in commercial complexes. Shockingly, electrical short circuits were identified as the primary cause in 58 per cent of cases, closely followed by electrical faults at 49 per cent.

Faults within the electrical systems can be caused by a variety of factors, including faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and equipment malfunction.

A recurring factor in many fire incidents is the use of low-quality wires and cables. These inferior materials are prone to overheating, heightening the likelihood of short circuits and fires.

ETP Grade copper wires are less susceptible to overheating, thereby reducing the risk of electrical faults. Copper maintains its structural integrity over time, ensuring a safe and dependable electrical infrastructure within buildings. With 100 per cent copper wiring in buildings, electrical fires can be curbed to a great extent.

ETP grade

The government has recognised the importance of copper wiring in mitigating the risk of electrical fires, advocating for its adoption in building construction projects. By mandating the use of ETP grade (Electrolytic tough pitch grade copper) BIS marked copper wires and conducting periodic inspections to ensure compliance, authorities can significantly reduce the incidence of electrical fires. Notably, various government agencies have rallied behind the promotion of copper wires to mitigate the risk of electrical fires and protect lives and property.

However, promoting electrical safety goes beyond regulatory measures. By using low quality materials to save costs will not only put lives at risk but also lead to a much larger costs once the accident occurs. There is a need to relook at the current gaps and ensure that corrective steps are taken immediately.

Additionally, consumer education and awareness will play a crucial role in preventing electrical fires.

The recent surge in fire incidents serves as a sobering reminder of the urgent need for improved electrical safety measures that are preventive in nature. It is imperative for all stakeholders, including government, industry, and consumers, to come together to mitigate the risk of electrical fires and prevent future tragedies.

The writer is Managing Director, International Copper Association India