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Downlight dangerous

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CHATROOM - and another thing. . .

Recently, while visiting my friend, I noticed that some stylish new downlighters had been fitted to her kitchen ceiling. I asked her if the dangers of installing these downlighters without a protective cover above the fitting had been explained to her.

Neither at the point of purchase (from a large national DIY chain) nor by the professional electrician who installed them, had any mention been made of possible danger; that when you cut a hole in a ceiling the fire integrity of that ceiling is breached. This would reduce its fire protection from, say, 30 minutes, down to only four minutes maximum.

This was particularly alarming for my friend, as her children sleep in the bedroom above the kitchen.

Less frightening, but still very important, is the fact that her household insurance policy for the upstairs room could be invalidated because of the breach.

The back of a downlighter can reach extremely high temperatures and, if installed without the correct protection, the light fitting could come in contact with combustible materials. Fortunately, there is a very simple remedy to this potentially lethal problem - a fire cover to fit above the downlighters, which restores the integrity of the ceiling's fire protection to its original state.

We need legislation to prevent the sale of downlighters that do not have the necessary protective covers. With thousands of these light fittings on the market suppliers should be obliged by law to inform buyers of the dangers and offer the covers for sale. Must we have a terrible tragedy before such simple precautions are enforced?

Elaine Tanton

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