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Important Safety Information – extension leads

Jay Woodhouse8 October 2014

UCL has a general aim to not use extension leads if possible, as they can be a significant fire risk if used incorrectly. It is understood that it is sometimes necessary to use extension leads as wall mounted power sockets are not always in suitable positions and having additional sockets fitted can be difficult and take sometime. However, wall mounted power sockets are the favoured method of providing power and should be requested where long-term use of extension leads is occurring.

Electrical extension leads are not a direct replacement for a wall socket. Extension leads have a 13 amp or less rating and wall sockets a 30 amp rating. This means it is much easier to overload an extension lead, which is likely to lead to a fire.

In the use of extension leads, what is plugged in is more important than how many items. Multiple low amp items may be fine, but one high amp item, such as an electric heater, is likely to overload the lead and cause a fire.

The total ampage of the items plugged into the extension lead must be less than the rating of the lead, usually 13 amp (See table at the bottom of this blog). Check your extension cables for their rating, usually listed on the back.

Have a look at the Electrical Safety First webpage and try their Socket Overload Calculator:



  • Use wall sockets if possible
  • Use extension leads with an earth – three cable leads
  • Visually check leads for cuts, broken plastic cover or exposed wires – discard if any found
  • Ensure leads do not create a trip hazard

Do Not:

  • Use double insulated leads  – these will have a symbol with a square within a square and do not have an earth
  • Daisy chain leads, linking more than on lead together is very dangerous
  • Use reel extension leads – these are banned on all UCL sites as they are dangerous if improperly used. please dispose of any reel extension leads you may have

This is a simplified explanation and if you are unsure, plug it into the wall. I am happy to give more detailed advice about individual issues.




Table of common electrical equipment

Domestic Portable Appliance          Amps Used Watts Used
Laptop <0.5 65 – 100
Mobile phone charger <0.5 <12
Kettle 13 3000
Satellite TV box <0.5 30
Printer <0.5 50
Radio <0.5 40
Radiator 8.5 2000
DVD player <0.5 28
Hair dryer 10.0 2200
Landline cordless telephone charger <0.5 10
Computer monitor <0.5 100
Desktop computer 3.0 700
Television 42″ HD 0.5 120
Games console 0.86 <200
Washing machine 10 2200
Toaster 9.0 2000
Tumble dryer 11.0 2500
Dishwasher 10.0 2200
Iron 12.5 2800
Microwave 4.5w 1000
Vacuum cleaner 9.0 2000
Radiator (oil filled) 13.0 3000

Changes to Fire Safety Training for UCL Managed Sites

Jay Woodhouse16 September 2014

UCL are changing the way that we manage fire safety and training. It is important that all staff are aware of the changes and ensure they have followed the procedures below.

Rather than having annual fire refresher training, both of individual safety and Fire Evacuation Marshelling (FEM), UCL is now grading buildings by their risk levels. There will be three levels, and these will determine how often staff require basic fire  and FEM training. These levels will also set how often the building Fire Risk Assessment must be refreshed. The levels are as below:

For Level 1 buildings the frequency is 4 years

For Level 2 buildings the frequency is 3 years

For Level 3 buildings the frequency is 2 years

The level of your building can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/estates/maintenance/fire/risk-assessments/ . The majority of Library Services sites are within buildings that are level 2. This means that staff should undertake refresher training in fire safety and FEM every 3 years.

There is a new concept of the UCL Fire Safe Person, who is a member of staff that has completed the UCL Basic Fire Safety e-learning as well as a local familiarization (fire tour) briefing from the department. All staff should complete this training. This course can be found at https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/ , search for Basic Fire Safety.

The training for FEM will also, from October 2014, be provided via moodle. This on-line course should also be use for refresher training.

FEM training will be supplemented by Toolbox talks, which will be provided by the UCL Fire Safety Team to FEMs at the end of the Fire Drill for your building. If you are a FEM, please attend the fire drill for your building. The dates for the fire drills can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/estates/maintenance/fire/fire-drill-schedule/ .

As this is a new system, we should treat October 2014 as year one for our building schedules. All staff should undertake the Moodle Basic Fire Safety training. From October, all FEMs should undertake the Moodle FEM course as refresher training.

If you have any queries or encounter any issues with the new on-line training please contact me at james.woodhouse@ucl.ac.uk .