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Fire suppression for electrical panels

By Adrian Simmonds
Senior Risk Manager

Electrical panels are present in most industrial and commercial premises as part of the power supply network and can present a fire risk. Managing these risks effectively is important for any business.

Electrical panels feed and distribute electricity into and around buildings. They differ in size, purpose, voltage and power levels and are critical to business continuity. They can also present fire risks through an electrical fault.

When fires occur in electrical panels the costs associated with the fire range typically between £5,000 and £50,000, where the fire remains within the panel. This is under the threshold of the insurance excess for many companies and cannot be recovered through an insurance claim.

Typical costs include:

  • replacement of the damaged electrical panel and associated labour costs
  • fire/heat/smoke damage to other equipment and the building structure
  • clean-up costs for the smoke and heat damage within the building
  • increased costs of working by alternative means at alternative premises or for longer hours
  • loss of sales due to business interruption

If a fire escapes from an electrical panel and ignites nearby combustibles or combustible construction there’s no limit to the potential for fire spread. This is one of the reasons insurers ask for all combustibles to be removed from electrical plant rooms or kept at least 1.5 metres clear of any electrical panels or equipment in open areas.

In the worst case, a fire that spreads can result in the total loss of one or more buildings. Historically many multi-million pound losses have been marked with the cause ‘probably electrical ignition’ by Loss Adjusters and Fire Officers. Even if only a small proportion were due to electrical ignition the losses to industry can’t be ignored.

At QBE, we recommend that a business criticality assessment is done for all electrical distribution panels, motor control centres and equipment control panels around your sites to identify those that are most critical to your company. Those that are classed as ‘critical’ against your business criteria should be fitted with in-panel automatic fire suppression.

Free factsheet

To help businesses be more prepared, we’ve produced a free factsheet with information on:

  • Risk control for electrical panels
  • When is fire suppression needed?
  • What types of panels is fire suppression needed for?
  • Types of fire suppression systems

You can download our fire suppression for electrical panels guidance here. 

Risk management services for QBE customers

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

Depending upon the size and complexity of the business needs, QBE customers can access a wide range of risk management services, self-assessment questionnaires and risk management toolkits which are focused on the key causes of claims, and on generating action plans for improved outcomes - including protecting employees, reducing risk and making claims less likely. You can find out more about how QBE helps businesses to manage risk here.

Need to claim? Report it early

Finally, a reminder that if you have an incident and need to make an insurance claim, it’s important that you report it as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Reporting a claim early can save time and help you to receive any claim payments faster, as well as allowing us to help mitigate the cost of third-party claims.


Your contact

Your contact

Adrian Simmonds

Adrian Simmonds

Practice Leader