Fire chiefs issue air conditioning maintenance advice

With a long, hot summer in progress, fire chiefs at London Fire Brigade have called on businesses to check their air conditioning systems are in good working order following two recent blazes in a week in the capital, caused by poorly maintained units

On the evening of Saturday 20 July 2013, firefighters were called to an overheating air conditioning unit in a City office building, while the previous Wednesday 17 July, 35 firefighters tackled a blaze at a shop in Streatham where the air conditioning unit was again to blame

The fire through the overheating air conditioning unit in Cutlers Gardens in the City was attended by four fire engines and around 20 firefighters. The Brigade was called at just before 9pm but fortunately crews arrived before a serious incident developed

In the case of the Streatham blaze, the fire affected the back of a shop and a range of sheds. Twenty-five residents were evacuated from a nearby care home and a man was treated for minor burns to his hands, while two others were treated for shock and smoke inhalation respectively

Mark Andrews, London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Regulation, said, “Air conditioning units can offer welcome relief in hot weather but if they are not properly maintained they can become a fire risk — especially if they have been out of use for a while and are then suddenly switched on during a hot spell for long periods.”

He advised businesses to clean or change filters regularly, as these can become clogged and lead to the system overheating and added, “We also find that portable air conditioning units are often plugged into extension leads and electrical appliances like these, which require a lot of power, can cause plug sockets to become overloaded.”

Commenting on the importance of a regular planned maintenance regime for all mechanical services Tom Kelley, National Service Manager of Andrews Air Conditioning Services said, ‘Air conditioning is often forgotten, until it breaks down. Equipment fires are thankfully very rare, but poorly maintained equipment will use up to 60% more electricity than necessary and will deliver far less cooling than it’s capable of. A routine maintenance visit twice a year is an inexpensive way of ensuring vital air conditioning stays in peak condition’.

Andrews Air Conditioning Services delivers nationwide planned maintenance, breakdown repair and new installation expertise. For advice or a free quote call us now on 0800 731 8833.