Charity benefits from switching to service-free extinguishers

p50-foam-and-powderWith homes and flats across London, Hertfordshire and Berkshire, leading Jewish charity Norwood gives adults with learning disabilities the support they need to choose where they live. In each property, housing support is available according to each person’s needs; they can choose between sharing a house with 3-6 people, sharing a flat or living on their own.

Norwood has to ensure that all its properties have adequate measures in place for safeguarding in the case of fire. This includes the provision of fire extinguishers which have to be serviced annually – at considerable cost.

Norwood became aware of the service-free P50 extinguishers which are constructed using a composite material that will not rust or corrode. They do not need servicing, as a simple annual check, which can be carried out by a member of Norwood’s own staff, is all that is required. There is also no refill required after 5 years – P50s only need refilling after 10 years.

Safelincs have so far provided around 100 of the P50 extinguishers (mostly foam) to Norwood and is rolling out a replacement program across most of the properties. Unlike most foam extinguishers, P50s contains a type of foam that is also safe to use on most electrical fires. Therefore they can be used on multiple fire types; the risk of Norwood staff or residents, although trained, using the wrong type of extinguisher, has been eliminated.

Although P50s are slightly more expensive than conventional extinguishers, Norwood benefits from massive savings by not having to call in service engineers each year. After ten years the units can be refurbished and used in exactly the same way for a further ten years.

“Safelincs took care of everything,” explains John Gregory, Facilities Manager at Norwood. “The price includes a site survey, installation, ID sign, a bracket and certification. The engineer also carried out some quick training to show staff how to look after the extinguishers. And if anybody new joins, Safelincs has provided us with DVDs of the inspection process to keep all of our staff informed.”

 

Fire safety in schools

school-fire-safetyWe have created a helpful guide for school leaders and staff with fire safety responsibility in schools to condense the confusing legislation and recommendations that exist and have turned them into an easy to understand fire safety guide for schools. The article, created by a very experienced fire risk assessor with many years of experience in inspecting schools, addresses:

  • Current situation with regards to arson in schools
  • General fire precautions in schools
  • New school buildings and fire safety
  • What to do should your school experience a fire
  • Examples of typical fire safety violations in schools

Being the fire safety provider of choice both for the Church of England and the Catholic Church, one of Safelincs’ key roles is to supply fire safety goods and services to the thousands of faith schools, amongst others, in the UK. Providing guidance and support is just part of this. We offer schools many opportunities to save costs and to improve fire safety provision at the same time. To benefit from this support offer, contact support@safelincs.co.uk or ring 0800 612 6537. We are happy to help.

We also offer fire risk assessments for schools at very good rates. In addition we provide free fire risk assessment forms as well as free online fire safety logbooks with automatic reminders, suitable for organisations with multiple sites and numerous responsible staff members.

If you would like to talk to us about the fire safety needs within your school call 0800 612 6537

Safelincs introduces the Nest Protect Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

nest-protectTechnology moves fast and has finally reached the often ignored area of fire and gas detection. Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms used to be standalone units, until the advent of interconnection. Once manufacturers had perfected hard-wired interconnection, allowing the alarms to communicate, the next step was wireless interconnection which made the whole process so much easier. But what is the latest step in smoke and CO alarm technology?

Safelincs is happy to introduce the all-new Nest Protect smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Available in 230V mains and 9V battery powered versions, the Nest Protect combines an industrial-grade optical smoke sensor with a long-lasting carbon monoxide detector, making the 230V version the only mains powered combined smoke and CO alarm on the market. The Nest Protect is packed with features, including the ability to distinguish between smoke and steam to avoid false alarms and remote alerts via the Nest App. ‘Nightly Promise’ checks the power level of the alarm to ensure that there are no midnight chirps and the Nest Protect offers a handy Pathlight that lights your way during the night.

The Nest Protect can communicate with other Nest and Nest-compatible products, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Cam HD, giving you more control over your home and ensuring that you are safe and protected by the best technology!

If you have an questions or wish to place an order please ring 0800 612 6537 or visit http://www.safelincs.co.uk/nest/

Safety for retired miners

minersWhen the Northumberland Aged Mineworkers Homes Association (NAMHA) wanted to ensure that all of its accommodation was safe from the deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas, it turned to Safelincs.

The organisation provides housing for retired miners, the widows of retired miners and others and was aware that around 50 people each year die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, while many others suffer from carbon monoxide related illnesses. It is believed that this figure is, in reality, far higher, as the symptoms can be easily confused with other ailments. Experts believe that some deaths amongst elderly people are not properly investigated and wrongly attributed to natural causes.

So, as well as ensuring that all gas appliances in its properties are regularly serviced, NAMHA took the decision to invest in CO alarms to warn of the presence of the gas. It contacted Safelincs to ascertain which would be the most appropriate for the properties that required protection.

“The staff at Safelincs were extremely supportive and offered useful advice that helped us choose the CO alarms that best suited our requirements,” explained Kevan Davison from NAMHA. “And their products are very competitively priced.”

Safelincs has so far provided over 500 CO alarms, which come with a ten year long-life sealed battery and ten year manufacturer’s warranty.

 

What causes “chirping” and false alarms in smoke alarms?

hoovering-alarmIf your smoke or heat alarm has started its low battery “chirp” in the middle of the night or alarmed falsely with no obvious reason, unfortunately, many people lose faith in their alarms, seeing them as an annoyance rather than essential life saving devices.
False alarms and chirping are often pointing at problems that require attention. There are a number of checks that can be done to help find the cause before seeking further help from the manufacturer or retailer. Below is a step-by-step guide to the possible causes and solutions for false alarms and chirping; however, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your exact smoke or heat alarm model. Additional care should be taken with mains powered alarms, as interference with the alarm can cause electrocution.

1) “Correct” alarm for the “correct” area
There are three main types of domestic alarms available on the market:

Ionisation Smoke Alarms – Slightly quicker at detecting fast flaming fires than other technologies but usually only installed in upstairs landing areas. If installed near a kitchen, where the occasional toast might get burned, ionisation alarms can cause false alarms. The installation of this alarm near sources of smoke is one of the key reasons for false alarms in daytime.

Optical Smoke Alarms – Slightly quicker at detecting slow smouldering fires that can originate from upholstery type materials and over-heated wiring. Suitable to be installed in bedrooms, living rooms and downstairs hallways. These are fairly ‘toast-proof’ and can be installed near kitchens (not in kitchens, though).

Heat Alarms – Activate when the temperature inside the room reaches a certain trigger level or if the heat in a room rises very quickly. These are ideal in kitchens and garages, as they do not get triggered by fumes. Please note that a heat alarm only covers a small area, so larger kitchens will require several heat alarms.

All types of alarm will sound in the event of a fire; however, understanding more about each sensor technology helps you to select units that are least likely to cause false alarms. Alarms placed in the wrong location will on the other hand cause false alarms, eg if you have a smoke alarm located in the hallway and this sounds each time you use the toaster or boil vegetables, it is likely that you have an ionisation smoke alarm installed rather than an optical.

2) Optimum position
The user manual for your smoke or heat alarm will provide advice on “locations to avoid” when positioning your alarm on the ceiling. Below are some examples:
– Near fluorescent lights – as electronic “noise” can cause false alarms
– In front of air supply ducts for heating or air conditioning, or near ceiling fans
– Directly above cookers/toasters/kettles (heat alarm) – although heat alarms are designed not to cause false alarms from cooking fumes, they should not be installed directly above cooking appliances
– Within 0.9m (3ft) of the door to a bathroom or shower room (smoke alarm) – steam can cause false alarms

3) Dust and/or Insects
Smoke alarms contain a sensor which is used to detect a fire. Over time, dust can build up or small insects/flies can crawl inside the unit, obstruct the sensor and eventually cause false alarms. Cleaning your alarm helps to remove anything that could be blocking the sensor. Wipe the outside of the alarm with a damp cloth, then using a vacuum nozzle or a hair dryer (set on cold), to suck or blow through the openings of the alarm.

4) Decorating
If decorating, especially sanding, has recently taken place, dust particles or paint fumes could have entered the sensor chamber, causing damage to the unit and therefore causing false alarms. It is recommended to temporarily cover the alarm whilst decorating. Some alarms are supplied with a protective cover, so keep hold of this after installation for any future use. If you suspect decorating may have affected your alarm, try cleaning the unit as described above.

5) Temperature
Smoke alarms have an optimum operating temperature and it is important to ensure that your alarm is not subjected to temperatures above or below these thresholds. Typically, the operating temperature for a smoke alarm is between 0 ˚C to +40 ˚C. If the alarm is positioned where it may experience blasts of hot or cold air e.g. close to a front door, or the ambient room temperature is not constant e.g. in attics, this is when false alarms can occur. It may be necessary to reposition your alarm.

6) Age of the alarm
Each smoke and heat alarm should have a sticker located on the edge or the back of the unit indicating a replace-by date. This is usually ten years after manufacture. If your alarm starts chirping or regularly sounds falsely, it could mean that the alarm is close to, or has reached the end of its life. Check the date to see if the alarm is due to be replaced.

7) Problem with the mains supply?
Mains powered smoke alarms can usually be identified by two LEDs located on the face of the unit. One LED flashes red approximately once a minute to indicate that the unit is operating correctly. The second LED should be constantly green to indicate that mains power is present. If the green LED is not present, this could mean that there is an issue with the mains power getting to the alarm. If needed, advice should be obtained by a qualified electrician.

8) Battery running low
Chirping every 30-40 seconds is generally an indication that the battery is running low. If your smoke or heat alarm has a replaceable battery, try changing the battery for a brandnew one. It is recommended to change the batteries in your smoke and heat alarms every 12 months. Changing your battery before it runs low helps to overcome the annoying chirps at night. Change the batteries when the clocks are changed forward or register for a free email reminder service.

Many smoke and heat alarms are now fitted with a sealed lithium battery, designed to last the life of the alarm. These batteries are not accessible for replacement and so if your alarm starts chirping but has a non-replaceable battery, the alarm may have reached the end of its life. Batteries running low apply to both solely battery powered alarms as well as mains powered units with a back-up battery.

9) Another alarm nearby?
If you have tried all the above and you can still hear chirping, the final check is to see if there is another alarm or device within the same area that could be causing the chirp. It is easy to associate chirping with smoke and heat alarms and forget that other devices e.g. carbon monoxide detectors could also contain a battery that is running low.

Safelincs are happy to provide information regarding your smoke and heat alarms. For more information, you can also visit our Smoke Alarm Help Guides page, or contact our customer services team.

Safelincs launch Orbik UK manufactured emergency lighting

emergency-bulkhead-lightsJanuary 2016 has seen the launch of our new emergency lighting partnership with Orbik Electronics. This exciting new venture enables Safelincs to offer our customers an excellent range of UK manufactured 8W, LED and spotlight emergency light fittings as well as illuminated fire exit signs to suit a variety of applications. Non-maintained products come with a 5 year warranty as standard and each fitting is supplied with a back-up battery, providing illumination for a minimum of 3 hours after a mains power failure.

Orbik started manufacturing emergency lighting control gear in 1982, and since then, have grown from strength to strength. Increasing their luminaire portfolio, Orbik have developed a range of energy saving LED emergency lighting to help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, and continuously focus on high quality standards, being represented on the technical committees of ICEL, the Lighting Industry Association and the British Standards Institution.

Safelincs are proud to work closely with another quality assured UK manufacturer, and we look forward to developing the emergency lighting range further, with plans to offer Orbik’s BSI Kitemarked emergency luminaires in the future.
Orbik emergency lighting and illuminated exit signs can be purchased online or via our customer services team on 0800 612 6537.

New service-free extinguishers for buses, taxis, boats and other applications

2kglrt-p50Following the great success of the 6 kg/ltr powder and foam P50 service-free extinguishers in working environments as varied as offices, refineries, farms, schools and churches, Britannia has now also launched 2kg powder and 2ltr foam versions of the service-free extinguisher. Like the 6kg/ltr versions, the smaller variant is manufactured with a corrosion-proof inner plastic cylinder cocooned by Aramid fibre to hold the chemicals and pressure. The extinguisher is then finished with an outer UV-proof sleeve and corrosion-free fittings. Like the larger extinguishers, the smaller series is, of course, kitemarked and CE marked and can be factory re-furbished after 10 years. It also features the same industry leading 10 year warranty of the larger P50s.

All service-free extinguishers from Britannia only require a simple, annual visual inspection which is carried out by the owners or their representatives. They do not require any visits by an extinguisher technician and no refill after 5 years.

The extinguishers are aimed at vehicles and locations, where maintenance is difficult or even impossible. The examples below include areas where small extinguishers are common and traditionally serviced:

  • offshore wind farms: Wind turbine housings require small fire extinguishers. The 2 kg/ltr version of the P50 is ideal and is easily visually checked annually by the engineers carrying out the regular mechanical maintenance of the turbines.
  • buses and taxis: the traditional maintenance of small on-board extinguishers is very expensive, as it requires service technicians to be based at bus depots at night time. With the 2kg powder P50, the annual visual inspection is carried out by the depot technicians when engine services are carried out.
  • small boats and narrowboats: The P50 extinguishers are Boat Safety Scheme approved and are ideal in the corrosive environment of rivers and sea water. The 2kg powder extinguisher is ideal for engine compartments, while the 2 ltr foam extinguisher version is perfect in the kitchen and living compartments on boats.
  • farm machinery: diggers, tractors and other machinery require small powder extinguishers. The maintenance of these is challenging, due to the working pattern and remoteness of the machines. The 2kg powder P50 can be installed on the machines and is visually inspected annually by farm staff without the need for any external visits.
  • market stalls: market stall holders are required by their insurance to have small extinguishers with them. Due to the regularly changing location, it is difficult to arrange for service engineers to carry out the maintenance. Again, the small service-free P50 extinguishers are here extremely helpful, as they can be inspected by the stall holder.
  • rented properties: Many landlords provide small fire extinguishers in the kitchen. The problem is then to arrange annual maintenance in daytime when tenants are often working or out of house. The 2ltr P50 foam extinguisher offers here a perfect solution. The landlord or any handyman can visually inspect the extinguisher on repair or inspection visits.
  • hotel rooms: Hotel rooms, especially when containing any cooking facility, often feature a small extinguisher. To avoid disturbance of guests, the 2ltr P50 foam offers a great way forward here. Rather than requiring a service engineer, hotel staff simply carry out the easy annual visual inspection and record the finding in the fire safety logbook of the hotel.

The list of useful and cost-saving applications where you can use these service-free models is endless. Please contact our friendly sales team if you would like to discuss your own requirements and see how much money you could be saving. You can email us on support@safelincs.co.uk or call 0800 612 6537

 

New focus of Fire Kills campaign

fireangel-pro-smoke-alarmIn a continuing drive to remind people to test their smoke alarms, the government agency, Fire Kills, is introducing a brand new style of advertising.

The previous ‘doom and gloom’ approach which focussed on fire related tragedies is being replaced by a more positive tone. The new adverts will feature ‘talking’ smoke alarms being friendly and helpful. Insight had shown that people tend to dislike their smoke alarms – “they only go off when I cook toast” or “the low battery warning goes off at 3am”.

Under the banner ‘Unsung Heroes’, the campaign is a very different approach for Fire Kills as it moves away from fear to imagery that focuses directly on the smoke alarms. It is hoped that presenting smoke alarms as characters that are capable of expressing emotion and creating personalities for them allows people to relate to them.

Fire Kills’ most recent strategy had been to link to the clock change, encouraging people to test their alarms while they move their clocks forward or back an hour – encouraging this behaviour by demonstrating the dreadful consequences that not having working smoke alarms can bring. However, changing clocks is less of a hook as timepieces increasingly change automatically and it was noted that even the weather forecasters do not always remind us now. Hence people need reminding to test their smoke alarms and Fire Kills now wants to promote more regular (monthly) rather than twice-yearly testing.

Radio advertising will be the lead channel and will broadcast on Capital, Heart and Smooth radio networks from 11 January to 7 February 2016. Three press adverts will appear in the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Guardian and Daily Telegraph from 11 January 2016 to 6 February 2016.

In addition Fire Kills will be trialling ‘Out of Home’ advertising with this new campaign including some large format digital advertising in seven locations across the country (Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Portsmouth). It will also be supporting the large format digital activity with bus stop posters in pilot areas. These locations will be selected following analysis of campaign awareness levels and casualty data.

Safelincs has been supporting Fire Kills initiative to increase smoke alarm testing for a number of years and offers a free reminder service with tweet or email notifications.

New CO alarm legislation in Scotland for landlords

scottish-flagLandlords in Scotland are preparing for a new law that comes into power from the 1st of December regarding carbon monoxide (CO) detection in rented properties. The legislation is being introduced as part of the ‘repairing standard’ which governs the responsibilities of landlords in relation to basic standards of upkeep and safety.

The detection of carbon monoxide has now joined smoke detection on this list of duties, placing the responsibility for purchasing and installing CO detectors firmly in the hands of landlords. Those failing to provide CO detection are liable for referral to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) which has the authority to take action against landlords failing to comply.

This development has been welcomed by groups promoting CO safety, as statistics show that those living in privately rented accommodation are up to three times more likely to suffer from CO poisoning that those living in any other housing type.

Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and deadly. The only way to reliably detect CO presence is to install CO detectors. It is therefore predicted that the introduction of this law will help landlords to identify and resolve problems with their fuel burning appliances, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

FACO9X10Two important factors to note are that the legislation specifies all CO detectors supplied by landlords must feature a sealed, long-life battery, and that there should be a detector sited in every room containing a fuel burning appliance. Therefore it may be necessary to install more than one detector within a property and to replace detectors with changeable batteries already in place to comply with the regulations.

It should, however, be recognised that appliances used solely for the cooking of food are exempt from the legislation, but if a cooking appliance was to be in the same room as a fuel burning heating appliance, then that room would need to be covered by a detector.

A detailed guide to the legislation can be found within our Landlords and Fire Safety help section. However, if you need any assistance in relation to the new CO law, or any other aspect of fire safety, please feel free to contact our customer service team on who will be happy to help you purchase the most suitable products.

Cinema chain installs P50s

empireEmpire Cinemas is one of the latest Safelincs customers to benefit from the minimal maintenance costs of P50 fire extinguishers.

The largest independently-owned cinema chain in the UK, Empire Cinemas has just opened two new cinema complexes at Hemel Hempstead and Catterick Garrison, and was determined that its new cinemas should have the most modern appliances fitted.

Safelincs supplied and installed P50 foam and P50 wet chemical extinguishers in the new cinema complexes as well as the linked restaurants and cafes. The appliances were selected primarily for their low maintenance costs. Unlike conventional extinguishers, P50s do not require an annual service by an external engineer; a simple check can be undertaken each year by one of the cinema’s staff, which is where the savings are made. The kitemarked P50 extinguishers are guaranteed for ten years after which they can be refilled and used for another ten years.

When the fire extinguishers in the all the other cinemas come up for renewal, it is intended to replace them with P50s.

“Safelincs were an easy company to do business with,” commented Steve Clode, Facilities Manager, Empire Cinemas. “The solution they have provided gives us the very latest in fire extinguisher technology, whilst enabling us to achieve significant cost savings over the coming years.”