Fire Safety - A look at government- and employee-furnished appliances

  • Published
  • By Thomas Wood
  • Edwards Federal Fire Department
Each year Air Force firefighters respond to hundreds of fires. Improper use of approved appliances or the use of unapproved appliances account for many of these fires.

Sometimes the appliances we bring to work that give us our "creature comforts" and make long days a little more bearable can cause problems. It is important that we understand which appliances are approved and which are not. In addition, Edwards' employees need to be aware of the safety requirements so they can use these items properly.

Appliances are items that require an electrical or other utility power source for operation. These include permanent fixtures and temporary devices other than general electronics such as personal computers, monitors, printers and related technology items. These appliances may be government furnished or employee furnished.
Government-Furnished appliances include large items such as refrigerators, microwaves and coffee services.

Employee-Furnished appliances are personally owned devices brought into the work space by employees, including coffee pots, cup warmers, warming plates, hot plates, fans, humidifiers, personal refrigerators, decorator lights and other similar items.

Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind regarding appliances:

- Appliances should have Underwriters Laboratories, or other nationally recognized testing laboratory safety certification as evidenced by a label on the product.

- Appliances must be suitably installed for the locations and service intended.

- All employee-furnished appliances must be approved by the facility manager. If there is any doubt about the safety or feasibility of an appliance, the Fire Prevention Office can provide additional guidance.

- High wattage items, such as space heaters, coffee pots, toasters, refrigerators, etc., must NOT be plugged into modular system furniture unless approved in advance and in writing by the CE electrical shop.

- No more than one high wattage item shall be plugged into a surge protector. If a high wattage item is plugged into a surge protector no other item may be plugged into that device.

- All space heaters shall be approved, in writing, by the organization‟s commander, the CE electrical shop and the base fire department. The approval letter shall be kept with the appliance.
Space heaters are approved for a given location. If moved, the appliance must be approved again for the new location.

Working together and keeping these guidelines in mind can ensure a safe environment for all to work in.
Any and all questions can be directed to the Edwards AFB Fire Prevention Office at 277-3124/3643.