Fixed Wire Testing: Observation Codes, C1, C2, C3 and FI Explained

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Date: Tue 08 Mar 2016

Observations could be things which are wrong with your installation that need rectifying and they are coded.

Fixed Wire Testing is a legal requirement and it is governed by the IET Wiring Regulations Seventeenth Edition also referred to as BS 7671. Your electrical contractor will supply you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report on completion of testing. This test will indicate any problems or observations, these are coded, but what do they mean?

Observations could be things which are wrong with your installation that need rectifying and they are coded. A list of these can be found on page two of your Fixed Wiring Report otherwise known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The observations or defects are coded according to their danger level, the codes are C1, C2, C3 and FI.

A Code 1 (C1) observation means 'Danger present. Risk of injury. Immediate remedial action required.' It is an immediate threat and should be rectified or made safe as soon as possible. An example of a C1 defect would be accessible live conductors due to damage, poorly modified enclosures or removed maintenance panels. Incorrect polarity would also attract a code C1 as it may allow conductive parts, not normally expected to be live, to become live.

The presence of a code C1 warrants immediate action to be taken which would be to inform the duty holder or responsible person for the installation immediately, both verbally and in writing, of the risk of injury that exists.

A Code 2 (C2) is a potentially dangerous defect, these might be things that don't pose an immediate threat but are likely to become a danger in the future. A C2 is described as 'Potentially dangerous - urgent remedial action required.'

The phrase "potentially dangerous", in the C2 code is designed to point towards a risk of injury from contact with live parts after a sequence of events. A sequence of events could mean that an individual may gain access to live parts through a day to day task that would not be expected to give access to live parts.

An observation code FI is described as 'Further investigation required without delay.' This means that your electrical contractor has observed something whilst carrying out the testing for instance emergency lights seem very dim. This might not have been covered in the report so they have noted it separately as code FI.

Codes C1 and C2 attract unsatisfactory report findings and you'll have to have these defects rectified in order to prove compliance. A report could also be classed as unsatisfactory if the only fault codes are FI. An example would be when there are lots of circuits that are not verified at the time of testing, this is because the inspector would not be able to categorically say that these circuits are safe or not.

Code 3 is described as 'Improvement recommended.' This means it does not comply with the regulations but isn't actually dangerous. A code C3 should imply that the installation is not necessarily dangerous but it may not comply with the current version of the regulations or for example, may have damaged fittings that do not have exposed live parts. A code C3, in itself, should not warrant an overall unsatisfactory report.

You will need to address C1, C2 and FI faults on your report in order to achieve compliance. However it's always good practice and usually well worthwhile considering rectifying all faults on site. Remember you aren't obliged to use the same electrical contractor to test and to carry out repairs. For greater piece of mind you can also use someone else to fix the defects, also bear in mind that you don't need to have the whole installation re tested after the repairs have been completed. Once faults have been rectified and your electrician has issued you with the relevant paperwork, Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) or Minor Works Certificate (MW) these should be kept together with the EICR to prove all faults have been rectified in accordance with BS7671.

Your electrical contractor will issue you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). If the unthinkable happens and someone receives a shock from part of your installation or if there is an electrical fire in your building then a court, inquest or insurance company will want to refer to the Fixed Wire Testing report which makes this document very important. You can read more about understanding your Fixed Wiring Report here.

Intersafe specialise in providing tailored electrical testing solutions in PAT Testing, Fixed Wire Testing and Thermal Imaging. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment then call 02380 610101 or email stephanie@intersafe.co.uk