The majority of deaths caused by structural fires in Pennsylvania were in residential buildings. As noted by the U.S. Fire Administration, the Keystone State experienced more than 100 fatalities in home fires during 2019.
According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, unattended cooking ranks as the top cause of home fires. Misused or faulty heating equipment represented the second greatest cause. Electrical malfunction ranked among the top five faults and may also reflect a liability on the part of a landlord or a building contractor.
Family-based home fire prevention
Making sure that an adult remains in the kitchen while cooking food can help prevent kitchen fires. Keeping anything flammable away from burners and heating elements also makes cooking safer.
Avoiding the use of extension cords and outlet splitters can help curb electrical fires. As advised by the National Fire Protection Association, a wall outlet should have no more than one heat-producing appliance plugged into it.
Landlord fire prevention responsibilities
Landlords in Pennsylvania must install smoke detectors in their rental units and comply with local fire codes. Under the provisions of the Keystone State’s “implied warranty of habitability,” landlords must also repair any serious defects in the leased property that may affect the tenant’s safety. As noted by Penn State University, this generally includes faulty electrical wiring.
In dwellings older than 20 years, the existing wiring may not have the capacity to handle the combined demand of many modern devices and appliances. As described by FireRescue1, air conditioners, microwaves and wide-screen televisions can fall into this category. Landlords may need to upgrade old circuit breakers to handle the increased current loads and prevent overheating and electrical fires.
Tenant and homeowner legal remedies
Both renters and homeowners can incur serious harm as a result of faulty electrical wiring. Legal action may recover damages if a landlord fails to meet the habitability requirements of a rental unit, and it results in a home fire. Homeowners may also seek remedies when a building contractor installs substandard or inadequately protected residential wiring.