Article on fire hazard and safety tips provided by Geoff Williams, a top local electrician and fire hazard expert.


Expert provided tips to reduce fire hazards

Provided by Geoff Williams: July , 2011

 Williams Electric  Call 510 339-5601 and ask for Geoff to come out and look at your job.

Every month needs to be  Fire Safety Month.

According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, since 1998 there have been over 16,000 college dormitory fires, and nearly 80 percent of college fire fatalities happen off-dormitory/Greek houses. Students fill up  older buildings near campus without sprinklers,  and filled with knob and tube/ Edison based fuse panels, and dangerous old Federal Pacific Stab Lok and Sylvania Zinsco electrical systems. Alcohol over use can also cause many fires.
Local electrician, Geoff Williams said, “Many dormitories use not only multiple computers plugged into extension cords and over loaded outlet strips, kitchen appliance high draw items like: refrigerator and microwave, coffee pots, but also fire causing electrical space heaters, and zip cord extension wires run under carpets, and illegal work done by house maintenance workers to save money rather than hiring electricians with experience!”
Fire caused carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in on or off campus,  claiming 400 lives and sending another 20,000 to the emergency room each year: from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of fires in campus housing—dormitory, fraternity and sorority homes, has risen from 1,800 fires in 1998 to 3,300 in 2005, and over 16,000 dorm fires since 1998!
These fires have caused many annual deaths and injuries, and many associated law suits from distraught parents and relatives!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the vast majority of the fatalities occurred in student bedrooms.
Fires usually happen during the evenings and on weekends when students are in their bedrooms.
Federal Pacific Main service entrance, main house PG&E Stab lok panel fire:
Geoffrey Williams is a local electrician with over 30 years of experience preventing electrical fires in knob and tube systems, in the Berkeley/Oakland area, with over 3,000 Berkeley/Oakland inspections passed.
 Williams said, “There are many common factors in fire deaths.  Cigarettes or candles left burning, electrical space heaters that pull tremendous load on knob and tube AWG 14g asbestos lined circuits that are likely too small and or overloaded to begin with.  Knob and tube is 85% asbestos infused wire on the insulated portion of the wire.”
Computer overload caused this Berkeley fire, catching a bedroom on fire:
Williams said, “Space heaters are commonly used, cords run under carpets, halogen lights plugged into knob and tube outlets with no grounds, too much computer draw on knob and tube outlets,  heavy use of hair blow dryers, hair curling and clothes irons  and other large load devices without dedicated circuits run off old knob and tube lines, overloaded electrical outlets, extension cords and power strips plugged into other power strips, leaving too many loads with too little molecular transport area for the current to drive through!  We are also seeing marijuana growing lights used in a few dorm houses, which are very fire prone.  Wires are just like water pipes.  If the pressure is too great, the pipe bursts.”
Williams suggested: Have an evac plan and drill  it for all house members!
Co2 and Smoke alarms must not be disabled, and there should also be a combination co2/smoke/carbon dioxide alarm as well in every room and  hallway separated by doors. House mothers/fathers should delegate battery changes, on a calendar,  and only allow cooking  in kitchens, and watch open fires.  Don’t use Christmas lights with zip cord wiring, especially  outside in the rain, or more than a small length, and don’t plug the lights into each other as extensions!  Don’t allow smoking in bedrooms.
Williams recommends all house members have fire extinguishers in all  rooms.
The  Tundra, a fire extinguisher spray that costs less than $20 and is great  for every room.
These allow members  to put out some quickly started fires themselves.
Geoff Williams said, “If you want to repair your system, or only have me look at it, call me at 510 339-5601, and I can come out today, and give a free house inspection, which will involve reducing the electrical fire hazards that cause so many people to be killed and injured each year.  I am one of the top world experts on knob and tube wiring and panel changes.”  For emergency use: cell phone: 510 908-1390.
Geoff said, “We have worked on two Cal houses,  Alpha Phi, and Chi Omega.  “I have replaced every dangerous panel, outlet, light switch, connection, and light fixture at these houses to the future stars of America, and now they are far safer.  I have installed new grounding systems, making them far safer, and less fire prone.  I found many burned wires, and bad/loose connectors, burned and unsafe outlets, bad panels, no grounding, in each of these famous houses.”
Email him at
One local Cal campus house disconnect:  “One house mother left this without repair, against my advice.”
Very quick estimates, and work done right, the first time, right away, to  save your house members from electrical fires.
Federal Pacific breaker fires:
Stab lok breaker off the main disconnect: “Federal Pacific Stab Loks are dangerous due to their 25% failure rate to shut off during a short circuit, the most dangerous wiring failure.  Stab loks tend to jam up due to violent harmonic vibrations and a defective “stab lok” bus bar design.  If you have these orange and black breakers in your panels, the whole panel has to be changed.  The older they get, the more dangerous they get.  Some of the Greek houses still have these, and Edison based round glass fuse panels, and knob and tube wiring, putting house residents at future risk.”
Sylvania Zinsco fire:  “Zinsco is a dangerous panel due to mixing copper and aluminum parts.”
College dorm room main that caught on fire in the darkened mechanical room:  Note the lighting control time clock, an older intermatic t-101.
Don’t let this happen to your house.   Call me today and let’s work together!

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