The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recently reported that 23,900 home fires involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction in 2014. Those fires resulted in 325 deaths, 925 injuries, and nearly a billion dollars in direct property damage. Astoundingly, more than 50% of these fires could have been prevented by the use of arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
New advances in AFCI technology, including the development of new code-approved AFCI and dual-function AFCI/GFCI receptacles, are providing contractors and homeowners easier-to-use and more cost-effective AFCI options. AFCIs bring a higher level of protection to today’s homes, many of which are increasingly overburdened by the growing electrical demands of our high-tech and appliance-rich lifestyles.
Electrical protection devices have come a long way since the first GFCIs were introduced in the early 1970s; these were primarily used to protect people from electric shocks around swimming pools. Today, GFCIs are required protection in areas where water and electricity meet, such as in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and garages.
The need for AFCI protection surfaced years later, thanks in large part to a CPSC study in the late 1980s that revealed 80% of all electrical fires were caused by electrical arcing. Electrical fires due to electrical arcing spread quickly in the wiring behind walls, cause more damage than other types of fire and are twice as deadly.