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Plug socket on fire

Clear detects compliance gap

Colin Bygraves

Colin Bygraves Head of Technical Services

Tuesday, 21st March 20233 min read


The property portfolio of one of Clear’s longstanding housing association clients includes a large housing estate in Tulse Hill, South London comprising ten blocks of flats which were originally completed in the 1950s.

From 1910 to late 1950, the majority of electrical cables featured VIR (Vulcanised Indian Rubber) for insulation and protection. However, it has now been proven that over time, VIR cabling is susceptible to breaking down representing a significant hazard due to live conductors being exposed resulting in the risk of an electrical fire which emits toxic smoke.

Reason for contacting Clear

Clear is retained by the housing association to undertake oversight in terms of regular routine quality checks and assessments.

Problems/issues identified by Clear

It became apparent that the lateral mains supply (into individual properties) on the estate featured VIR cables, representing a C2 (potentially dangerous) risk under current electrical regulations.

The Clear Response

Clear made an immediate recommendation that the VIR cables at the lateral mains should be replaced with new Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XPLE) Thermosetting cables.

The scale of the project not only represented a considerable body of work, it also required careful planning to minimise the disruption to residents. Respectful of budget constraints and the need to establish a staggered approach to resolve the cabling issues, Clear split the task into two phases and prioritised the works so that the oldest properties which faced the most significant fire risks were included in the first tranche of works, with a second programme of activity planned for implementation in the next financial year.

Clear’s role comprised:

  • Stage 1 The first priority for Clear was to compile a design and specification for the recommended works and invite contractors to tender for the project.
  • Stage 2 This involved the careful process of managing the contractors on site, overseeing all the works to ensure they are completed on time, in line with agreed quality control parameters and within the agreed budget – and with minimal disruption to tenants. Clear’s role includes post-inspection of works and the origination of the necessary documentation to evidence compliance.

Since all properties are occupied, Clear’s approach was only to enter each property twice, once to install the new containment and the cabling and then to isolate the power and terminate the original connections. The target is to ensure that each tenant is without power for a minimum time frame, no longer than six hours.

After reviewing the applications, Clear identified and recommended a suitable contractor based on their proven competencies, evidence of quality of workmanship and cost.

End result

Works are currently in progress for phase one of the project, with phase 2 scheduled for completion in early 2023. By implementing a meticulous and time-sensitive methodology to resolving the cabling issue, the client can demonstrate a responsible approach to mitigating the fire risk, which allows for detailed quality control checks and the delivery of clear evidence to demonstrate compliance.

Electrical & M&E Lifts


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