Warning issued over electrical items after fatal fire

Blogger Grace McDermott died in fire believed to be caused by fault with phone charger

Consumers have been urged to ensure their electrical appliances display a proper certification mark to ensure they are safe to use.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) warned people to be extremely careful when buying and using electrical products.

While the standards body did not wish to comment on the fire in which a young woman died in Limerick earlier this week, it noted that almost one in five fatal fires in the State was caused by an electrical appliance.

Equality activist and DCU PhD student Grace McDermott died in a fire at a house in Annacotty, Co Limerick, early on Monday morning. It is believed the fire started as a result of an electrical fault involving a mobile phone charger in the bedroom where Ms McDermott was sleeping.


Ms McDermott, who was in her late 20s and originally from New York, was the co-founder of the popular blog Women are Boring.

There is no suggestion that the fatal fire was due to inappropriate use of a device by anyone on the premises.

Restating a warning issued last year after an apartment in Dublin was extensively damaged by fire when a mobile phone charger left on a bed burst into flames, the NSAI urged consumers to ensure their electrical appliances display the CE mark.

The quality mark is an indication that the appliances are compliant with EU safety regulations.

NSAI director of corporate services Pat Bracken said electrical products such as hair straighteners, hairdryers, laptops and phone chargers could be “incredibly dangerous if left on beds or sofas”.

“Although duvets and quilts often undergo flammability tests, accidents like this can still occur,” he added.

Mr Bracken noted that although a device may be manufactured to the correct safety standards, it could still become very dangerous very quickly if not used in the appropriate environment.

Fatal fires

Between 2005 and 2015, there were almost 360 fatal fires killing more than 400 people.

In 158 instances up to 2014 where the cause of the fire was known, electrical appliances were suspected in 28 fatal fires (18 per cent of cases), the authority said.

A further 3 per cent of fatal fires were attributed to electric blankets. In 2011 alone, 241 fires in Ireland were caused by electrical equipment.

According to the Health and Safety Authority, there have been 68 electrocutions or deaths from the explosive/burning effects of electricity from 1996 to the end of last year. They included incidents with electric heaters and electric showers.

Of the total, 45 deaths were associated with a work activity. The remaining 23 occurred in domestic situations or as a result of trespass, vandalism or in one case a fallen overhead power line.