CFD warns residents, business owners of potential risks with Federal Pacific electrical panels with Stab-Lok breakers

Design inside the addition designed by James Paris his partner the late Nolan Bingham of Paris/Bingham Partnership for the Columbus Fire Department, Central Fire Station 1, 1101 Jackson Street, Columbus, Indiana, Carla Clark | For The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Columbus Fire Department (CFD) is warning residents and business owners of a potential risk for fire if the property has a Federal Pacific electrical panel with Stab-Lok breakers. The Columbus Fire Department Fire Inspection and Investigation Division has recently identified several local businesses that have Federal Pacific electrical panels and inspectors say that privately owned homes may also be at risk.

The Federal Pacific Electric company no longer exists but it is estimated that millions of defective circuit breakers it manufactured remain in homes all over the country. Columbus Fire Department Building Inspectors say that Federal Pacific electrical panels with Stab-Lok circuit breakers are most commonly found in homes and businesses built before 1990.

Testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission has shown that these panels have an unacceptably high failure rate and that 1 out of 3 breakers are defective.

Columbus Fire Department Fire Marshal Troy Todd said that the panel’s faulty breakers are cause for concern and could lead to a preventable fire. “Testing of these breakers shows that the circuit breaker may fail to interrupt the flow of current if the electrical system would happen to be overloaded. This failure can lead to a fire in a home or business,”  he said.   Todd said the safety research has indicated that these panels may be responsible for 2,800 fires, 13 deaths, and $40 million in property damage each year.

The Columbus Fire Department recommends that homeowners and business owners of a property built between 1950 and 1990 inspect to see if the electrical panel is a Federal Pacific panel with Stab-Lok breakers. While inspecting the panel, look for the name “Stab-Lok” printed inside the breaker area. The Columbus Fire Department recommends the replacement of any Federal Pacific panels with new, up-to-date circuit breakers or contact a licensed electrician to discuss replacement options.