Clocks Are Going Forward – Now Test Your Smoke Alarms

Fire Kills, the Government’s safety campaign, will again be encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when the clocks go forward at the end of March.

Safelincs is a partner of Fire Kills and has worked for a number of years supporting the message that encourages householders to regularly check their smoke alarms. In this age of austerity Fire Kills is no longer able to run long and expensive television campaigns so it now concentrates its efforts twice a year when the clocks change.

Twice a year is the bare minimum for testing alarms; manufacturers often recommend once a week. Several years ago Safelincs established a free smoke alarm reminder service whereby you can receive an email or text to remind you to test your alarms.

The frequency of these reminders can be set to suit what is best for you. You will also be reminded when it’s time to change the battery and when the alarm has reached the end of its reliable life and should be replaced.

Fire Kills will be promoting the message through national newspapers and through a local radio campaign around the time of the clock change. There is also a new smoke alarm video which can be viewed here.

Last year there were 30,709 accidental fires in the home across the country, and fifteen children’s lives were lost. With smoke alarm ownership levels at around 86%, it is evident, from the statistics and real-life cases, that not all of these work. In fact there have been tragic circumstances where fatalities have occurred when a smoke alarm was present but the battery had been removed to power something else.

Latest statistics show that you are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have a working smoke alarm.

We therefore would encourage you to test your smoke alarms when you change the clocks!

Safelincs Grows Facilities Management Business

Fire safety specialist Safelincs is extending the services it provides to Integral, a leading Facilities Management company.

Safelincs originally won the business to provide and service fire extinguishers a year ago when the previous supplier was found to be too expensive on replacements and remedial work. Safelincs currently services around 400 appliances in 15 sites managed by Integral and further work planned on additional sites.

Jason Granger, Portfolio Supervisor, commented, “Using Safelincs to service extinguishers helps me keep control of costs. Everything is transparent and they are easy to do business with. I shall be using them to provide servicing on more Integral sites.”

Safelincs’ fire extinguisher servicing has clear pricing, no hidden costs and a one-off call out charge. All work is carried out in accordance to BS5306 and certified by Safelincs’ BAFE approved engineers. When additional components are required during a service, the engineer will quote the product and ask permission first before installing anything.

A Healthy Working Environment for our Developers

One of the many things that set us apart from other fire safety companies is our pro-active approach to technology. A large part of our resources is channelled into strengthening our online systems, especially if these will benefit our customers. We pride ourselves of our ever-expanding team of web developers, based in the city centre of Hull. Hull has a thriving digital community and is the fastest-growing digital sector outside of London, making it the perfect place to build a passionate and skilled team.

It comes as no surprise, then, that our developers also like to keep on top of their game. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time isn’t good for you, so we decided to install a standing desk to see how it will benefit the staff. Our senior developer, Leonard, is the lucky guinea pig:

“Safelincs really looks after us. All staff are offered free fruit, drinks and, most importantly, free sweets.  We are encouraged to take regular breaks away from the computer, however, as other developers will attest to, we have a bit of a name for getting immersed in our work. I’d read about the long-term effects sitting at a desk all day every day can have and had toyed with the idea of a standing desk for a while. I’d seen plenty of people taking the plunge, and when talking about it to other people I was often met with intrigue and positive comments. For me, the health benefits are the most positive reason, but from speaking with other developers in the area and trialling a standing desk at home for a short time, I also found that my productivity and mood were better, too. It encourages me to move around, and although it’s initially tough getting used to standing all day at work again for the first time since my evening job at university, I feel great!”

a standing desk
An alternative, more healthy way to work

Have you also got a standing desk? How are you finding it? Let us know on Twitter.

Praise for swift and honest extinguisher service as well as cost savings

Parish administrator Michèle Lyon had become frustrated with the fire extinguisher service she was receiving for the Holy Trinity and St Marys churches in Guildford.

Having cancelled one contract when it became too expensive four years ago, she decided to use a local company. They came in at a lower cost initially but then prices started to rise and she found that she was being charged for unexpected ‘extras’. One example was an invoice charge for CO2 extinguisher horns, despite this being an integral part of any CO2 fire extinguisher.

Michèle then sought two new quotes but at the same time received the Parish Buying Newsletter promoting Safelincs, who supplies the CofE with fire and safety equipment as well as fire safety services through the Parish Buying website (www.parishbuying.co.uk *).

A Safelincs service engineer attended the two churches and found that the incumbent supplier wanted to replace equipment that didn’t need replacing and had been completely missing servicing of other extinguishers in the past. Furthermore, the company had issued fire extinguisher certificates for items that had not been inspected.

Safelincs was able to advise that certain extinguishers were superfluous and the equipment and servicing it now provides, through the Parish Buying website, is costing Michèle around half the cost of any other quote.

“Safelincs is providing a positive, swift, reliable and, above all, honest service,” says Michèle. “The prices are clearly published on the Parish Buying website and there are no hidden charges. Everything is transparent and I feel that I am in control of my costs now. Money is very tight everywhere at the moment and I am sure many other churches would benefit from the service they provide. I shall continue to use them and am about to buy a carbon monoxide alarm for the boiler room.”

Safelincs supplies over 3500 fire safety products and services, including nationwide extinguisher servicing.

*Parish Buying is the central purchasing organisation of the Church of England and Safelincs is the fire safety and H+S supplier for Parish Buying. Parishes and church organisations achieve significant cost savings when purchasing Safelincs services and products through Parish Buying.

Exit Hardware – the “What’s What” Guide!

What’s it for?

Fitting exit hardware devices provide the users of a building with a safe means of escape without compromising the security of the building by persons without authorisation. Along with emergency and panic hardware installed internally, access locks and digi-locks can be installed on the outside to allow authorised access.

What is emergency exit equipment?

push-padsAs a rule of thumb emergency latches and bolts are used in non-public areas where escape routes are well known by the building’s occupants and the exit hardware is familiar.  Emergency exit devices are usually push pads fitted with either rim latches or shoot bolts.

What is panic hardware?

panic-barsPanic hardware, including panic bars (also called panic latches and panic bolts) are suitable for public areas. Panic hardware is designed to cover the full face of an escape door so that in an evacuation with the ensuing panic the doors will always open open, even if people are pushed hard against the door. All products suitable for ‘panic’ situations should be certified to EN1125:2008.

What is a latch or bolt in terms of exit hardware?

Latches and bolts are two terms that are often banded around when discussing exit hardware for fire exit doors. The terms can be misconstrued but in actual fact are quite simple and we have all seen examples of them in buildings. A latch product has a rim latch that retracts when the push bar (panic hardware) or the push pad (emergency hardware) is pressed. A bolt device has vertical shoot bolts that are normally in the locked position and retract from the frame at the top and the bottom of the door when the push bar or the push pad is de-pressed. Emergency hardware suitable for installation should be certified to EN179:2008.

For more information on a range of panic bar and emergency pad devices take a look at a fire exit equipment range.

Please note: The Redlam Panic Bolt, while called a ‘Panic’ bolt by everybody in the industry, is actually only an ‘Emergency’ bolt and should therefore not be used in public spaces.

Fire Extinguishers in Churches

Fire extinguishers in churches and cathedrals are important to protect the often invaluable historic artefacts and mostly wooden internal structures. However, the extinguishers must be chosen with care. A well publicised case, where the extinguishers became the problem rather than preventing one, was the vandalism caused by two teenagers in a church in Spalding in 2006. In this case a powder and a water extinguisher installed in the kitchenette were set off. The powder and the water reacted to form a slightly acidic mixture which formed a hard crust. Valuable church fixtures, including the organ had to be restored at a cost of £240,000.

Powder extinguishers, while being excellent on forecourts, engine rooms and car parks, where they are valued for their rapid knock-down of flames from a variety of sources, are not really suited for indoor locations. The fine powder can obstruct vision and lead to inhalation of the powder. The powder will also attack electronics, soft furnishings and causes damage to wood and metal, especially when moist.

What alternatives are there?

In principle, water based extinguishers (water, water spray, ‘dry’ water mist) and foams are suitable, although foams contain chemicals that might be harmful to metal and wood. Please note that water extinguishers with additives can also cause damage. CO2 extinguishers, while leaving no deposit, are not really suitable for the type of fire risks in churches and can unfortunately be misused to intimidate people with their roaring discharge and the massive temperature drop the discharge causes.

Where traditional extinguishers requiring annual servicing are required , the E-series ‘dry’ water mist extinguishers from Jewel are perfect, as they create a very fine mist with much smaller water mist particles than those generated by normal water spray extinguishers. These extinguishers are also suitable for all common fire risks found in a church, including electrical risks (even up to 1000V, as long as a safety distance of 1m is adhered to). The mist is so fine that the damage to paintings and structures is limited and no puddles are formed. The extinguisher can also be used on clothing, wall-hangings and carpets.

Where in-house servicing of the extinguishers is required, often to help reduce costs , the Britannia P50 maintenance free foam extinguisher can be installed instead. It is suitable for the majority of the fire risks found in churches, however, its deposits are harder to clean up and potentially corrosive. After the initial install and certification carried out by Safelincs, the extinguisher only requires yearly visual inspection by the Church Warden. No refill after five years is required and the extinguisher does not require a service engineer for ten years!