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Firemen puting ouot a recent fire in Kampung Penambang Mas, Kota Bahru. File photo by Rosliza Mohamed

FAULTY electrical sources are the No. 1 cause of fires in the country, with more than 5,300 cases recorded in the past three years.

Of the number, more than 1,000 buildings were razed as a result of short circuits, triggered either by overloading, faulty electrical appliances or wiring.

Statistics provided by the Fire and Rescue Department revealed that electrical sources surpassed incendiary fire as the No. 1 cause of fires, with a total of 877 cases reported in the past six months. 

Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim urged the public to carry out periodic checks and upgrade internal wiring and installations, if their homes were more than 20 years old. 

“This is when they need to be upgraded with new certified cables and wires.

“It is also advisable to conduct inspections every 10 years,” he said. 

Penang recorded the highest number of fire cases caused by faulty electrical sources, with 144 cases, followed by Selangor (121) and Kuala Lumpur (112). 

Penang Fire Investigation Division assistant director Mohamadul Ehsan Mohd Zain said overloading and illegal upgrading of wiring systems were among the main causes of fires in the state. 

“Overloading happens when one overuses the socket.

“For example, when one point can generate only up to 200 volts, we use extensions to power up as many things as possible. 

“This causes the power usage to jump up to 300 to 400 volts, surpassing the socket capacity. 

“Illegal upgrading, especially by squatters or illegal factories, is dangerous.

“In our investigations, we often find beaded wires... meaning a spark could have caused the fire.

“This also happens when they use low-quality wires, which are not Sirim-approved,” he added.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department operations assistant director Mohd Sani Harun said hiring unqualified personnel to carry out electrical work was also a factor that could trigger a short circuit.

“People tend to hire unqualified workers to cut cost and these people would carry out illegal ‘modifications’, which are dangerous,” he said. 

Plugging and unplugging constantly would also damage appliances and lead to electrical sparks, Sani said. 

“When you do this often, the plugs become loose and as a result, electrical sparks are triggered inside the plug head due to the gap that would have been created,” he said.

City Fire and Rescue Department chief Khirudin Drahman said most major fires happened because people were unaware and unable to put them out at the initial stages.

“Most of the time, they only realise that their house or office is on fire when it’s already too big to control.

“They also do not have any fire safety and precautionary mechanisms in place, such as smoke detectors, which can provide early warning,” he said, adding that failing to switch off electrical equipment for extended periods of time could also lead to malfunctions and trigger a fire. 

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