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Fire Investigation and Analysis Unit Position Statement - Down Lights

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23 Nov 2009
A review of structure fire statistics has revealed that over the previous five years to date we have seen a substantial increase in fires generated from the incorrect installation of downlights.

The collaboration between the MFB Fire Investigation Unit and Energy Safe Victoria has generated several strategies to highlight the pitfalls and possible dangers and to make positive recommendations with regard to the installation and maintance of all forms of installed downlights.

Our position stresses that:

  • Down lights, when correctly installed, DO NOT pose a problem.
  • Insulation, whether it is the “blow in” type or batts DOES NOT pose a problem.
  • However, “Down lights” when incorrectly installed, e.g.; close against structural timber, or covered over by the insulation or any foreign ceiling debris, DO pose a problem that can create a substantial fire risk.

FIA and Energy Safe Victoria advise the public to:

  • Always use a Licensed Electrician and always ask for the Certificate of Electrical compliance.
  • Ask the Licensed Electrician to show you the barriers that will be used to keep insulation away from the downlights
  • Never allow the installation of electrical equipment into or against insulation or structural members.
  • Regularly inspect down lights and transformers to ensure that they have installed non flammable / mechanical barrier around them to prevent insulation or other material covering them. As general guide, the minimum clearance requirement should be a hands width all around the light and transformer.
  • Where possible, always use the best quality available fittings and guards.
  • Ensure that all the down lights and transformers remain clear of insulation or other material, following ANY work has been conducted in the roof space.
  • If in doubt, contact your local Electrician who can provide advice on the types of guards available today, or contact Energy Safe Victoria direct on (03) 9203 9700.
  • Home Electrical Audits (at a cost) are available from Energy Safe Victoria Phone 1800 800 158 to arrange an audit.
  • Additional Information is available from Archi Centre on (03) 9819 4577 concerning home safety and down lights.

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