Managing fire risks in electricity substations 

Fire safety is important whatever the setting. But in the context of the energy industry, there are particular fire risks that must be addressed in order to protect against potentially catastrophic incidents.

Electricity substations, for example, are a crucial link in our energy distribution chain and every substation, however large or small, must adhere to rigorous fire safety standards. If fire breaks out in a substation, not only is there a danger to life, but the electricity supply in the surrounding area will be disrupted. Just this year, an explosion in a North Yorkshire substation left 22,000 homes without power.

So why are substations important, and what is Allsaved's role in helping to keep them safe?

Electricity substation facts and figures

Substations transform electricity from high voltage to low, ensuring that power can be safely delivered across large networks.

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There are over 400,000 substations of varying sizes in the UK, ranging from National Grid substations where electricity is transformed down to 132kV, to 'final distribution' substations which changes electricity from 11kV to the 230V that we use in homes and offices.

Substations are located across urban and rural areas, and will always have a yellow 'Danger of Death – Keep Out' sign prominently displayed. They can be indoor or outdoor structures, but they are always clearly marked and should never be entered without authorisation.

What are the fire risks in electricity substations?

Where there are high concentrations of energy, heightened risks are inevitable. Malfunctions in substations can occur for a number of reasons, such as power surge, component failure, thunderstorms, damage caused by a rodent, or malicious attack.

Any kind of damage or fault inside a substation can lead to sparks or an increase in temperature that can easily ignite a fire. And because of the high levels of energy, once fire takes hold in a substation, it has the potential to cause a huge amount of damage, even travelling along cables and causing secondary fires at nearby substations.  

Neighbouring residential and commercial properties are under threat if the fire cannot be contained, and smoke can cause breathing difficulties across a wide area, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions.

How does Allsaved help protect against substation fires?

We work with leading UK energy suppliers to ensure their electricity substations meet all safety standards. Our technology experts have developed a fire risk assessment tool that's tailored specifically to this sector, enabling engineers to fill out detailed reports on-site using a streamlined app.

Potential hazards are pinpointed during the inspection process, and any issues are subsequently addressed to ensure full compliance with the law. Depending on the size and situation of the substation, this may involve installing or updating the latest fire detection and fire extinguishing/suppressing equipment.

Our expertise in the utilities sector has been developed over many years, and we're proud to play a part in the safe and efficient supply of electricity around the country. Food for thought next time you switch on your kettle or fire up your laptop!

Need advice on fire or electrical safety?

From risk assessments through to supply, installation and maintenance of life safety systems, our fire and electrical consultants will guarantee your building is fully compliant with current legislation. If you'd like more information, or a competitive quote, please get in touch and our friendly team will be happy to help.