According to the most recent data from the United States Fire Administration, home electrical problems are responsible for an estimated 67,800 fires every year, resulting in 485 deaths, 2,300 injuries and more than $868 million in residential property loss. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates AFCI protection in homes nationwide could prevent more than 50 percent of these fires.

Arc-fault circuit interrupters were developed in response to an identified electrical problem that causes home fires. The use of AFCIs is endorsed by the National Fire Protection Association, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the CPSC, the Electrical Safety Foundation International and other prominent organizations.

“Over 30 years ago, ground-fault circuit interrupters seemed like a major innovation, and now they’re just part of the electrical safety landscape we all take for granted,” said Brooke Stauffer, NECA’s executive director for standards and safety. “In a few more years, AFCIs will seem just as familiar. The new 2008 National Electrical Code rules are an important step in reducing the risk of electrical fires.”

Arc-fault circuit interruption technology offers protection by detecting arc faults, which can create heat as high as 10,000°F. This dangerous condition can produce burning particles that may easily ignite such surrounding material as wood framing or insulation.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA’s) Low Voltage Distribution Equipment Section (LVDE) announced the launch of a Web site devoted to educating homeowners, electrical contractors and those involved in home construction about arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).

“AFCIs are a technological leap forward in home safety, and they have significant potential to save lives and loss of property caused by electrical fires in the home,” said Gerard Winstanley, LVDE technical program manager for NEMA. “The new Web site is NEMA’s way to make homeowners, builders and electrical contractors aware of the safety benefits that AFCIs provide.”

The 2005 National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires that AFCIs be installed in bedroom power and lighting circuits in new homes. The forthcoming 2008 NEC proposes to expand AFCI requirements to branch circuits throughout new homes.    EC