Q: The common hallway lighting circuits at our block recently failed an ‘electrical condition report’ due to the absence of an earth wire in the cabling.
- The block was built in 1965 and the wiring conforms to the standards in force at that date,
- The lighting cables pass current electrical insulation tests and during the last year, a professional electrician replaced light fittings in one of the hallways without commenting on the absence of an earth wire.
- I cannot find any regulation that requires the lighting cables to be upgraded to to-day’s standard.
Are the electrical wiring standards for cabling in common areas ‘grandfathered’. If not, where can I find the regulation that requires them to be maintained to the latest standard?
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
Over the years Building Regulations have been updated and it’s often difficult to keep up with what needs to be carried out as part of Legislation or just recommend which I find very frustrating as our adviser on these issues.
The key issue for common parts of blocks of flats is that they must by law be tested once every five years by a suitably qualified electrician. Any works recommended by such an electrician should not be ignored, including earthing of the common wiring. To do so could not only jeopardise your insurance but could seriously endanger life.
As part of the ‘responsible persons’ responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment, electrical safety is key and any action to mitigate the potential for an electrical fire should be carried out.
As a 1965 block you may well also have asbestos in your common areas and an Asbestos Management Plan must be carried out to identify any asbestos and how this should be managed. Again this is a legal requirement and not to be ignored.
Question submitted May 2018