London Fire Brigade

Londoners get charged up about electrical dangers

28 July 2015

Members of the public have shared pictures of the close calls they've experienced using counterfeit and wrong chargers with their electrical devices. The images show how their plugs have exploded but thankfully not caused a blaze.

The Brigade frequently warns of the dangers of using imitation Apple iPhone chargers and using the wrong chargers with devices like e-cigarettes, which could put people’s lives at risk.

Two lucky escapes, in which fortunately no-one was injured, have recently been shared with the Brigade via its social media channels.

The first was posted at the Brigade's Twitter account by Jimmy who said: "#Electriccigarette charger just caught alight, lucky we weren’t out. #turnoff Only use correct charger. I'd hate to see it happen to someone else."


Can you spot a real from a fake?

Our investigators noticed a number of tell-tale signs that gave the fake Apple iPhone chargers away:

  • The finish on the plug pins on genuine chargers was found to be matt and uniform, but on the counterfeit chargers the finish was found to be glossy/shiny and the pins irregularly angular.
  • The position of the USB sockets on the dodgy chargers was often found to be upside down when compared to the real product.
  • Genuine chargers were found to weigh over 40 grams, but the imitations tested were always found to weigh less.
  • The printed text on the faceplate was found to be a darker shade on the sub-standard chargers and the casing on the majority of counterfeit chargers tested was found not to be flame retardant.

Think you can tell the difference? Can you get ten our ten on our test?


The second incident, which was posted to the Brigade's Facebook page, said: "This is what happens when you buy fake chargers. I only bought this a couple of weeks back from a phone stall in Stratford, East London - thank god it didn't catch fire, we are very lucky. People should be made aware."

This is what happens when you buy fake chargers I only bought this a couple of weeks back from a phone stall in Stratford East london thank god it didn't catch fire we are very lucky people should be made aware

Posted by Mandy K Daniels on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Charlie Pugsley, Head of Fire Investigation at the Brigade, said: "We are grateful the public have shared their experiences so we can warn others of the very real dangers caused by some chargers.

"It is crucial people only use the genuine chargers supplied by the manufacturer with their electrical goods.

"One charger may work with multiple electrical items, but it may be of a higher voltage or current than recommended for your device.

"Ensuring the correct type of charger is used will not only stop your device from getting damaged, but will also help prevent fires which can be serious, and could even result in death."


Share your photos

Have you had a close call when using a charger? Share it on our Facebook page