Introduction to CO2 fire extinguishers

CO2 fire extinguishers contain carbon dioxide under very high pressure (about 55 bar at room temperature) and can be easily recognised by their flute-shaped discharge horn. CO2 extinguishers are colour coded with a black panel in the UK.

CO2 fire extinguisherssuppress fires by taking away the oxygen element of the fire triangle. Although the CO2 is very cold when it comes out of the extinguisher, this does not make it a suitable choice for tackling Class A fires such as solid combustibles like paper, wood and fabrics. Class A fires require extinguishers that work on cooling the fire, such as water as they frequently continue to smoulder and may re-ignite

CO2 extinguishers are mainly intended for use on Class B fires which contain flammable liquids such as petrol, oil and diesel, (not including cooking oil). Because carbon dioxide is non-conductive and leaves no harmful residue that may damage or contaminate sensitive circuitry, it is often recommended as being one of the best options for fighting electrical-based fires. The properties of CO2 also make the extinguisher a good protective fire fighting device in places like laboratories, clean rooms, engine compartments, generator rooms, boats and flammable liquid storage spaces.

When ordering Co2 extinguishers, make sure you buy a model with a frost-free horn, as the horn gets so cold that skin could stick to it.

Call our customer hotline now on 0800 6126537 to find out more about the benefits of CO2 extinguishers or take some time to explore our web pages and see our impressive range of affordable fire safety products in greater detail.

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Why fire doors are so important

A fire door is one of the most important fire safety products on your premises. It will prevent the fire or smoke from spreading across the building and keep the fire contained to a particular compartment or room, giving occupants longer to escape and the fire service longer to rescue anyone who is trapped and put out the fire. They will also prevent more of your building and property from being lost to the fire than necessary.

The fire door can only be effective if it is installed with a fire door closer. As the name suggests, the closer ensures that the door closes automatically once it has been opened and needs to be able to handle different weights of door. We have a range of different door closers available, including all the leading brands such as GEZE and Briton. We also have concealed door closers, which are ideal if you feel an overhead closer would be unsightly or out of keeping with the building. These are also good for reducing vandalism, as most of the fixture is hidden out of sight.

Although fire doors should always be closed, sometimes this can be inconvenient or difficult to manage for customers with buggies or wheelchairs. Wedging a door open, usually with a fire extinguisher or door wedge, is extremely unsafe and illegal. Instead consider installing Dorgard fire door retainers, which will hold the door open legally and also release the fire door in the event of the fire alarm sounding. Ensuring maximum access and safety at the same time.

Pan fires and fire extinguishers

Deep fat fryer fires and pan fires with burning fat are difficult to extinguish. The jet of an ordinary extinguisher can carry the burning fat out of the pan and spread the fire, making the problem worse. Any traditional water based extinguishers can also be dangerous, as water droplets sink into the fat and then erupt violently, spreading the fire. The five most commonly used methods of extinguishing fat fires are:

1) wet chemical extinguishers

2) fire blankets

3) dry water mist extinguishers

4) ABF fire extinguishers

5) Foam Aerosols

Wet chemical extinguishers

Wet chemical fire extinguishers are usually supplied with a long lance which helps to safely deploy the foam. The wet chemical forms a thick soapy foam-like blanket over the surface of the burning oil/fat which stops oxygen from reaching the fire and smothers the flames. This process is known as saponification, which is an endothermic process that not only ensures that the additive penetrates the fat/oil and creates a seal, but also cools it to below the ignition temperature, thus preventing the oil/fat from re-igniting

Fire blankets

Fire blankets are spread over the burning pot or pan and exclude oxygen which suffocates the fire. It is crucial to leave the fire blanket on top of the container even when the flames have gone, as the hot fat would re-ignite again should the blanket be removed.

Dry Water mist extinguishers

Portable dry water mist extinguishers create a microscopic mist with low pressure which settles onto the surface of the fire without sinking in. As the water droplets evaporate above the surface, the fire cools and oxygen is excluded. Dry water mist also protects the user from the flames, as the mist forms a heat barrier.

ABF fire extinguishers

These extinguishers resemble a normal fire extinguisher and contain a foam suitable for burning fat.

Aerosols

Whilst formally not classified as extinguishers, these foams are a low cost solution for domestic kitchens with cooking oil.

Fire drills in schools

As part of the annual health and safety audit that schools have to complete the subject of fire safety will arise. Questions about the maintenance of fire extinguishers and smoke alarms as well as other equipment will need to be assessed. Are the annual checks up to date and are regular visual checks carried out throughout the year?  Along side this the procedure for fire drills will also be reviewed.

Most schools are very good at carrying out fire drills on a regular basis but do the drills go far enough to be useful to highlight any difficulties that may occur in the event of a real fire? The usual procedure for a fire drill is to set off the alarm system and evacuate the children out of the building as quickly as possible. This is good practice and familiarises both pupils and staff with the routine but where is the fire situated from which they are evacuating?

These common fire drills do not take into account that one or more exits may be blocked in the event of a real fire and that an alternative route may need to be used. Teachers who have always used the same exit door in a drill may panic if this exit is blocked by a real fire and may not be able to lead the pupils to safety.  It is essential that different exits are blocked in a drill to ensure that it is second nature for the teachers and pupils to use an alternative route.

A fire drill where an exit is blocked may highlight that in actual fact there is only one escape route and that a window may then need to be utilised as exit point. If the window is double glazed and does not open fully it may be necessary to have an emergency escape hammer fitted near the window. If the room is not on the ground floor there may be a need to install an external fire escape ladder.

Increase the scope of your next fire drill and simulate a fire blocking an exit point. It can be as simple as someone standing at the exit door waving their arms saying “this exit is blocked by fire”.

 

 

How to protect a kitchen with heat detectors

Kitchens produce great amounts of steam and cooking smoke and ordinary smoke alarms are not able to cope with these confusing signals. An ionisation smoke alarm or even an optical smoke alarm would quickly be set off when a kitchen is being used. At the same time fires regularly start in the kitchen, so rapid fire detection is important.

Luckily, there is an easy solution available. Heat alarms or heat detectors work by detecting either rapidly rising temperatures or trigger when a certain temperature is reached. Heat detectors do not get set off by steam or smoke or the normal cooking tempreatures. The thermistor in the heat detector head only detects the temperature changes mentioned above and ignores all other influences.

To notify the rest of the house of a fire in the kitchen you do not need to rely solely on the siren in the heat detector. You can interconnect the heat detectors with other smoke alarms in the house either with wire or through radio-frequency. The latter avoids you having to lay cables between alarms.

Heat detectors are also installed in garages and other areas where smoke or gases are present (with exception of bathrooms).

More information about the workings of heat detectors and other smoke alarms can be found in our smoke alarm guide.

Combating the ‘Silent Killer’

Further to calls from the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group (APPGSG) the Green Deal will now require a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm to be fitted in every home whose residents are at risk of CO poisoning.

Concerns have been raised that as green installers insulate houses more effectively it has the result of potentially making them more dangerous if there is a carbon monoxide leak. Householders should also be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning can happen where leakage has occurred from an adjoining property.

In the UK, about 50 people die each year in their homes from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. But it is believed that this number may be a significant underestimate since in many fatalities this cause may not have been identified.

Hence the importance of installing a carbon monoxide alarm.

Safelincs supply a range of carbon monoxide detectors that start from under £12.

We also provide a free carbon monoxide reminder service where owners of alarms can register to be reminded by email or text to test their alarms on a regular basis. It also reminds people when it is time to change the battery and to replace the unit.

Do fire doors restrict your movement?

Fire doors are a necessity but their design and purpose can sometimes restrict movement within a building. To ensure that fire doors are closed in the event of a fire and to avoid putting people at risk, they are fitted with a door closer. The door closer pushes the door closed once it has been opened. The strength of the door closer can make if difficult to open fire doors.

This can affect in particular elderly people in a care home or porters who have to push wheelchairs or trolleys. Promoting the mobility and independence of the elderly is essential to maintain their well being, but how do you achieve this without breaking any fire safety regulations?

Dorgard is a fire door retainer, which legally holds fire doors open with a plunger system. This allows free movement within the building but does not compromise your fire safety. On the sounding of the fire alarm system the Dorgard will release the plunger and enable the door closer to close the fire door, keeping the occupants of the building safe from the spread of fire.

For situations where it is a necessity to close fire doors at night the units can be programmed to close at a predetermined time. This clever unit has an exclusive 5 year warranty from Safelincs and is also offered with free shipping.  They are available in mahogany, black, red and white as well as the wood effect series, Dorgard Effects, which are available in four different wood types.

 

Information about Evac+Chairs

The Evac+Chair is the original and the world’s leading evacuation chair, designed to allow people who are mobility impaired to be moved out of a building should the normal lifts be out of action or cannot be used due to a fire. The evacuation in such a situation must then be along the  staircases and evacuation chairs allow this without the need for lifting or great physical strength.

The Evac+Chair can be used in all non-domestic and commercial buildings to assist organisations in complying with health and safety regulations.

It is no longer the responsibility of the Fire and Rescue Service to evacuate persons from a building, and businesses should not rely on their intervention. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 reiterates key elements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which places a legal duty on those with ‘responsibility’ over the management and operation of premises to provide adequate means for emergency escape in the event of a fire for all building occupants – and not just their employees.

Evac+Chairs are used in a wide range of sectors including:

  • Leisure and Tourism
  • Education
  • Business
  • Retail
  • Hotels
  • Council Buildings
  • Healthcare
  • Finance

A responsible approach to safely evacuating those with mobility problems requires internal training, which incorporates ensuring Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) are established and regularly reviewed in order to make certain occupants are as familiar as possible with the procedure to follow in the event of an emergency.

The standard Evac+Chair 300H has now been replaced with a new Mark 4 edition, which has a payload of 182kg, an increase of over 30kg on the earlier model. We can also offer a brand new chair, the 440 which has the capacity to hold an individual weighing 200kg.  The new chair includes a foot rest, which doubles up as a support handle when the chair is used in the 2-person operation mode. We can also supply a variety of evacuation aids and accessories, including evacuation sheets and sledges and evacuation cots.

We provide essential training in how to use our evacuation chairs, as well as the correct procedures to follow. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not enough – we tailor each session to the specific range of risks presented by each customer. Evac+Chair Key Trainer classes provide a high level of training for ‘key trainers’. An employee who receives the Key Trainer training can then competently train other employees. This makes it a useful and cost-effective method of training large numbers of staff within organisations, particularly for large or multi-site operations. Key trainer certification is valid for 3 years, after which re-assessment is recommended.

Hand-in-hand with robust training techniques is the need to ensure the equipment is regularly serviced to guarantee it can be operated in the event of an emergency. As a Class 1 Medical Device, an Evac+Chair should be regularly serviced and maintained to ensure its safe operation. This requirement is included within the PUWER (Provision of Use of Work Equipment) Regulation. To help clients meet this legal requirement, we offer an annual service contract. In addition to an annual service, the contract also includes one additional site inspection per year and a 12-point visual check.  An optional installation service is also available.

The Evac+Chair is classified within the EU as a ‘medical device’ and therefore conforms to the provisions of the Medical Devices Directive, 93/42/EEC (2002) which requires all such devices to carry the CE mark.

Safelincs supply these quality evacuation chairs and related training and are experts in responsible evacuation planning.

Retrofitting or replacing fire door seals

Following a fire risk assessment, doors are sometime re-designated as fire doors if the door and frame are substantial enough for a door to be justifiably counted as a nominal fire door. The same applies to older fire doors which do not follow the latest specifications. In these cases fire door seals are retrofitted. To avoid having to cut a rebate in either the door or the frame, surface mounted fire door seals can be fitted. These are stuck to the frame or door with their self-adhesive backing and sometimes nailed as well to give them increased longevity.

Where a fire door rebate already exists or the existing rebated fire door seal has been damage, rebated intumescent fire door seals can be fitted.

All our fire door seals are fire and smoke seals. This means that they contain intumescent that swells if a fire breaks out and seals the gap around the fire door. They also contain a brush-type smoke seal to stop smoke travelling through the gap. There are some applications where a gap should not be smoke proved: eg if the fire door has been installed on the exit of a room which has no smoke detectors on its own. In this case the fire alarm system can only be triggered if smoke can leak out around the fire door and set off the fire alarm system in the circulation spaces. But these cases are quite rare.

Fire door seals are fitted on three sides of a fire door with the gap underneath the door not being covered.

If new fire door seals are fitted for the first time, make sure that fire door hinges, fire door closers and where necessary intumescent door lock protection are fitted as well.

Primary Times promote our smoke alarm reminder service

Primary times, a magazine written for teachers, parents and children in the UK has written an article promoting our smoke alarm reminder service.

In conjunction with Fire Kills we are encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when the clocks change on March 25th 2012. Primary times is helping us spread this message. The article not only encourages readers to test their alarms on the 25th but to also set up a free reminder using our reminder service to alert them to test their smoke alarms on a regular basis.

If you are interested in setting up a reminder to test your alarms on a regular basis please visit our reminders page www.safelincs.co.uk/reminders.

Go on, push that button, it might save your life.