Now that the heating season is truly under way it is time to review your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure you are fully protected. Smoke alarms and CO detectors should be tested once every half year but as a minimum one test per year should be carried out. To ensure that your alarms are not running out of battery power and to avoid that you get woken in the middle of the night by a low battery beep, alkaline batteries should preemptively changed once a year. The lifespan of your alarms also need checking. While smoke alarms are designed to last a full ten years, most CO detectors only last 5 to 7 years.
Any units that are out of date or fail their test need to be replaced. If you find any areas of the house that are not protected yet, you should consider purchasing new smoke and CO alarms to fill these blind spots. To make this more affordable, Safelincs, in partnership with Kidde Safety Europe, one of the leading manufacturers of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have introduced two great special offers.
At entry level we are now offering a standard smoke alarm together with a 7 year life CO alarm for just £13.49+VAT.
To stop you having to purchase new alkaline batteries every year and to make sure you get the maximum life out of your alarms we are also offering a top of the range 10 year smoke alarm with sealed 10 year battery and a 10 year carbon monoxide detector with a sealed 10 year battery to give you maximum protection and convenience for only £27.49+VAT.
When you can protect your home and family for a decade at a cost of under £30.00 there really is no excuse for not taking action today!
We are also here to help you with your regular testing regime. We can remind you free of charge when your next test is due – at a test frequency chosen by you.
Safelincs operates a fire safety forum where people’s fire safety questions are answered by professionals. One of the frequently raised topics has been Emergency Lighting. To give you a broader understanding of emergency lighting, this blog compiles the typical queries and answers raised
through the forum.
What is emergency lighting?
Emergency lighting is lighting that comes on when there is a mains power failure. Emergency lights are powered by rechargeable backup batteries which are either located inside the emergency light or in a central battery location
with connections running to each emergency light. Emergency lighting is a general term and is sub-divided into emergency escape lighting and standby lighting. Standby lighting is used to continue normal work during a powercut and, as it is not a legal requirement, is not covered in this guide.
What is emergency ESCAPE lighting?
Emergency escape lighting comes on automatically when the mains power fails and gives off sufficient illumination to enable occupants and visitors to evacuate the premises safely.
Emergency escape lighting itself is sub-divided again into
- open area lighting (bulkheads and other emergency lights)
- escape route lighting (typically illuminated fire exit signs with a running white man on a green background)
- high risk task area lighting (to allow the shut down of dangerous processes)
Publicly accessible buildings as well as most businesses are required by law to provide emergency escape lighting.
What key types of emergency lights are there?
There are two key types of emergency lighting: maintained and non-maintained.
Maintained emergency lights stay on constantly at all times and stay lit for the minimum emergency duration (usually 3 hours) after a mains failure. Maintained emergency escape lights are used in places of assembly like theatres, cinemas, entertainment halls but also shopping centres and
similar venues. They allow the public to familiarise themselves with emergency routes and have the advantage that any failure of the emergency lighting bulbs can be spotted immediately.
A non-maintained emergency light will only light up in the event of a mains power failure and will also stay lit for the minimum emergency duration required. Non-maintained emergency lights are likely to be found in offices, shops and factories.
Does all escape route lighting have to be illuminated?
If sufficient open area emergency lighting is in the vicinity of a fire exit, non-illuminated fire exit signs can be sufficient in locations of minor importance. Photo-luminescent fire exit signs would be preferable in this case, although it has to be ensured that sufficient light is reaching the photo-luminescent sign to ensure it is ‘charged’ at all times.
British Standard BS 5266-1: 2011 provides clear guidelines about the design and installation of emergency lighting. It should be remembered that the British Standards specify the best practice for standard situations, however, a higher standard may be required for a particular installation.
The actual degree of illumination should be closely related to the nature of both the premises and its occupants.
Special consideration should be given to homes for the elderly, hospitals, crowded areas such as pubs, discos and supermarkets and to whether or not the premises are residential.
Borrowed lighting may be suitable in small premises (eg small shops) where there is light coming into the building from a dependable outside source, e.g. street lamps and will adequately illuminate escape routes. Alternatively, single ‘stand-alone’ escape lighting units may be sufficient in small premises and these can sometimes be combined with exit or directional signs.
An emergency lighting system should be installed by an electrician who specialises in emergency lighting.
They would need to be conversant with BS 5266-1- 2011 Emergency lighting-Part 1: Code of practice for emergency lighting of premises.
The question of the requirement for emergency lights in schools is a bit of an anomaly.
As a school is only occupied during the hours of daylight, emergency lighting is not therefore required. However, should the school be used out of hours, in the hall for example, then emergency lighting should be installed in the hall and the exit routes from it. The ‘responsible person’ should have the final say on this and might want to consult the local fire officer.
Toilet facilities for use by disabled people and/or any multiple closet facilities without borrowed light should have emergency escape illumination from at least one luminaire. Organisations may have to provide emergency escape lighting in each cubicle if there is no borrowed light.
What are the rules for rented properties?
For residential properties landlords are deemed to be the ‘responsible person’ for all fire safety and emergency lighting.
Single occupancy houses and houses of multiple occupancy up to two storeys high only need conventional lighting, whereas three and four storeys may require emergency escape lighting if the escape route is complex and there is no effective borrowed light.
Bedsit houses of multiple occupation of one to four storeys (with individual cooking facilities within bedsits) require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting if risk requires such or there is no effective borrowed light. Bedsit houses of multiple occupation of five or six storeys with individual cooking facilities within bedsits require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting
Two, three or four storey houses converted to self-contained flats require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting if the fire risk assessment requires it.
Five or six storey house converted to self-contained flats require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting. Importantly, common escape routes should be well lit.
There are guidelines to help understand the provision required and landlords need to be aware of their responsibilities to carry out a fire risk assessment, and make sure their property has adequate and appropriate fire safety measures in place.
How do you maintain emergency lighting?
Emergency lights have to be tested regularly unless they are self-testing emergency lights.
Emergency lights with internal backup batteries display a small green LED that indicates that the internal battery is being charged. Older models may have a red light. However, you still have to check the function of the emergency light regularly, as the LED only confirms that the unit charges rather than that the battery will last the full period required or that the bulb is in working order.
All emergency lighting systems must be tested monthly. The test is a short functional test in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004.
The period of simulated failure should be sufficient for the purpose of this test while minimising damage to the system components, e.g. lamps. During this period, all luminaires and signs shall be checked to ensure that they are present, clean and functioning correctly. Emergency lighting key switches are available and allow for the interruption of the power to the emergency lights without affecting the power supply to the normal lighting circuits.
A test for the full duration (usually three hours) of the emergency lights must be carried out once a year. The emergency lights must still be working at the end of this test. The result must be recorded and, if failures are detected, these must be remedied as soon as possible.
Any batteries that do not last three hours should be changed immediately.
Life expectancy will vary depending on the make of the battery – with some makes it is four years, some five years. When the life expectancy date expires the batteries should be changed. It is a good idea that when a battery is changed the date of installation is written on the battery for future reference. Safelincs supply spare batteries.
If the fitting has a fluorescent tube the life will depend on whether the unit is maintained or non-maintained. Safelincs recommends that lamps in maintained bulkheads are changed every six months. If a fluorescent lamp has blackened ends / starting to turn black the tube needs replacing.
The occupier/owner of the premises should appoint a competent person to supervise the testing of the system. This person shall be given sufficient authority to ensure the carrying out of any work necessary to maintain the system in correct operation. Competent can be defined as someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to maintain the system properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help that is required.
From a practical point of view, a normal caretaker would be able to use a test key to remove power from emergency lights and ensure that the emergency lights stay on the required period. When it comes to repair of failing emergency lights it would most likely that an electrician would be needed unless the caretaker has sufficient qualifications to replace batteries and lamps.
It is important, though, that all tests are recorded in the fire safety log book.
The longevity of emergency lights is better if lamps are changed before they are fully failing. However, this recommendation probably only applies if an organisation has a contractor for the maintenance of emergency lighting and the costs of a call-out were to be substantial. In such a case pre-emptive maintenance (changing while the light is still working) makes sense.
In the long run LED light are more economical than fluorescent tubes as they save electricity not only when the light is on but even during the trickle charging of the batteries. However, the real saving from LED emergency lights comes from not having to replace the tubes on a half yearly or yearly basis. The LEDs will last a lot longer, hence saving costs for maintenance call-outs and replacement tubes.
Many systems will have fish tail key switches in the power supply leading to suitable groups of emergency lights so that you don’t have to switch off the power at fuse level when you want to check them. If you have a system that can only be tested by switching the lighting power supply off altogether you would only be able to do your tests when the building is empty and if you have suitable portable light or suitable daylight in all locations you are checking. If you have dangerous processes in your company lighting might have to be on all the time, so that a central switch-off would be inappropriate.
In the wake of government cutbacks, up to seven Merseyside fire stations have been threatened with closure. The closure plan – which will lead to 100 firefighter job losses as retiring staff are not replaced – is expected to save £3.4m in 2015/16.
Many other areas are facing similar cuts as austerity measures continue to bite. At the beginning of the year Britain’s oldest fire station, in Clerkenwell, closed along with nine others in the London area. London Fire Brigade is cutting 552 firefighter jobs and reducing the number of fire engines by 14, saving £45m over two years.
London Fire Brigade said the cuts will not affect the service it provides because the number of fires has fallen by 50% over the last 10 years.
Improvements in passive fire protection such as fire resistant soft furnishing and the reduction of the number of smokers as well as changing diets with less deep fat fryers and fat being used have played important roles in this improvement.
The widespread installation of smoke alarms and the early warning these give have also had a major impact. Smoke alarm ownership increased rapidly from 8% in 1988 to 70% in 1994 in England, and has continued to rise in recent years to 88% in 2011. However, whilst only 12 per cent of dwellings report not having a working smoke alarm in England, more than one third of fires occurred where no alarm was installed. There were also numerous cases where fatalities have occurred despite smoke alarms being present, however, they either weren’t working or the batteries had been removed.
This emphasises how important it is to regularly check that smoke alarms are actually working by pressing their test button. Safelincs provides a free service to regularly remind householders via email to check their smoke alarms are working.
Having a working smoke alarm is, however, only the first step. Without having the ability to extinguish a small fire, even an early detection will not stop a building burning down. Portable fire extinguishers can be used to tackle small fires at an early stage, as long as the right medium is used.
In domestic situations Safelincs recommends the innovative water mist extinguisher which works by creating a very fine ‘dry’ mist which can be used on just about every type of household fire including electrical and deep fat fryer fires – with absolutely no chemical residue.
The authorities are adamant that the fire service cuts will not affect response times but the cutbacks will have acted as a wake-up call to many to enhance their domestic precautions.
Following the success of our first aid section, especially of our defibrillators, we have introduced a new medical emergency product range – Oxygen Care. Oxygen is essential for our bodies to function correctly. A wide range of injuries or illnesses such as asthma, near drowning, cardiac problems or smoke inhalation restrict this critical oxygen supply, and within just 3 minutes of starving vital organs, irreparable tissue damage can occur.
Recognising the importance of providing the body with immediately accessible oxygen, OxySure is a safe, easy to operate emergency oxygen system, which can be used by anybody without previous training, by following a simple three step process:
1) Plug in the mask
2) Turn the knob
3) Place the mask over the nose and mouth of the patient
OxySure then provides a 15 minute supply of medically pure oxygen. This instant supply of oxygen helps to bridge the time gap until first responders arrive.
OxySure uses a revolutionary non-compressed technology, in which two inert powders, contained inside a disposable cartridge, are stored separately until the moment of activation. Once the knob is turned, the powders are combined to create medically pure oxygen. After use, the cartridge can be safely disposed of in regular household waste and a replacement cartridge is inserted.
Without the need for traditional pressurised cylinders, OxySure creates no fire risk or explosion hazard, and is safe to store in any indoor or public access location including the home, offices, sport centres, schools, restaurants, airports etc.
OxySure is there to help from the onset of a medical emergency. It provides lifesaving oxygen when you need it most until the arrival of the emergency services.
To find out more about OxySure, please visit our website or call 0800 612 6537 and our friendly customer services team will be happy to help.
Northumbria University, home to over 35,000 students, has rapidly expanded over the last few years. Trinity Square student accommodation, part of the university completed in 2014, has been one of the largest building projects outside of London. Trinity Square can house over 1,000 students and offers a choice of studio apartments and accessible bedrooms.
This complex has over 300,000 square foot requiring over 4800 emergency and standard lights throughout the building. The emergency lights were required to illuminate exit routes and comply with BS5266-1 : 2011. As energy efficiency and sustainability were major considerations, all lighting systems had to adhere to strict efficiency specifications while remaining within a clearly defined budget.
Round slimline emergency lights XL and models of the same with LED were installed in bedrooms, staircases and corridors throughout the complex.
The units were supplied with a purpose made tray designed specifically for the Trinity Square lighting system. The bedroom lighting had to fulfil comfort and diffusion standards to CIBSE recommendations. The lighting units were therefore fitted with special diffusers to improve light transmission and to ensure wellbeing. Despite using 26W lights instead of the standard 28W in the non-LED lights, the light transmission was increased by 54% compared to standard lights with standard opal diffusers. Well balanced light significantly improves concentration and reduces fatigue.
Should you require information about emergency lighting and the options to create bespoke emergency lighting solutions, please contact us on 0800 612 6537
The Chief Fire Officers Association and fire services across the country are supporting Ageing Safely Week which commences at the end of September.
The risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages. Across the country fire and rescue services identify those who are most at risk in their community and undertake targeted prevention and protection activities. 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035, therefore older people will increasingly be the focus of preventative fire safety.
The Ageing Safely Week, which runs from 29th September to 5th October, provides a platform for fire services to run initiatives and events that focus on such aspects of fire safety as getting chimneys swept, the safe use of electrical heaters and cooking safely.
Safelincs have a number of products that are particularly suited to maintaining the safety of senior members of the community. These include radio-interlinked smoke alarms, connected through radio frequency signals, which ensure a fire alarm is heard throughout an entire residence.
Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing feature high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads to wake the deaf person during the night if there is a fire alarm. We also have portable deaf alarm systems.
Innohome stove alarms provide reliable fire protection for the area of the home where elderly people are particularly vulnerable. A loud alarm is activated if the cooker becomes too hot or when an empty hotplate is left on, warning of a hazardous situation before toxic gases are produced or a fire starts.
Many homes now have a fire extinguisher and, whilst the fire service advice is to evacuate immediately, most people can prevent a small fire getting out of control. We would recommend a one litre water mist extinguisher which can be used on any type of household fire. This appliance utilises relatively recent technology that smothers a fire using microscopic ‘dry’ water particles. It works even on deep fat fryer fires and is safe to use on electrical fires.
Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector. There is a range of both battery and mains powered products that will give an early warning of the presence of this deadly gas.
In the middle of Ageing Safely Week, UK Older People’s Day takes place and the aim is to create some synergy between the two campaigns. Held on the 1st October, the same day as the International Day of Older Persons, it is a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. Its objective is to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.
Esther Rantzen CBE, founder of The Silver Line helpline, is also supporting the Ageing Safely campaign. “Older people are more at risk from fires in their homes than any other sector of the population. The majority of those over 75 live on their own, and loneliness erodes confidence so seriously that it can lead them to neglect themselves, and put themselves in danger,” she says.
After months of preparation Safelincs has launched a specialist defibrillator portal called TheDefibPad. This new portal gives customers access to world leading brands and through our search refining system, makes selecting the best Defib for each application an easy and straight forward process.
Our product ranges include semi and fully automatic defibs, defib cabinets, defibrillator training devices, first aid supplies and all replacement items such as batteries and pads.
We like to stand out from the rest and unlike most suppliers of defibs we include FREE training, FREE replacement pads after two years, a FREE AED responder kit and FREE shipping with each defibrillator order.
If you would like to know more about our defib range, please call our customer care team on 0800 612 6304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Safelincs operates a fire safety forum where people’s fire safety questions are answered by professionals. One of the frequently-raised topics are Fire Doors. This blog compiles some of the key points raised by the forum.
A fire door is designed to function both as a door and as a barrier to a fully developed fire in a building
Whilst any closed door will help to delay the spread of a fire, those designated specifically as fire doors must be capable of resisting the effect of fire for a period set out in its specification – typically 30 minutes.
Strictly speaking a fire door should be referred to as ‘a fire resisting doorset’ or fire door assembly including a frame as well.
This is because the door and the door frame act together in the context of fire resistance. In information pertaining to fire resistance you will see the actual door referred to as the ‘door leaf’ or simply the ‘leaf’. Other components are hardware (closers, hinges, etc.) and seals which must be to fire rated standards.
There are two types of smoke seal
- A brush type seal will prevent the escape of cold smoke around the edges of the fire door. Smoke inhalation can be more dangerous than the fire itself. It is important, when fitting smoke seals, that they do not hinder the full and effective closure of the door.
- Intumescent fire door seals remain dormant under normal conditions but expand greatly in the heat of a fire to close the gap between the door and its frame. A fire door required to provide resistance to the passage of a well-developed fire must be fitted with intumescent seals. These seals activate at temperatures that are above human survival levels, so there is no danger of them expanding and trapping people trying to escape.
Safelincs’ fire door seals contain both an intumescent strip as well as a brush to stop both smoke and fire. There are rare occasions where a brush is not helpful (if traces of smoke are required to drift through the door gap to trigger an alarm on the other side of the fire door). In these very rare cases, please contact our staff and we will supply you with intumescent strips without brush.
Fire doors are rated in accordance with the length of time they will resist a fire
A door rated FD30 will resist the passage of fire for 30 minutes, an FD60 for 60 minutes and so forth. If a fire door is rated FD30s it will have been fitted with the appropriate seal containing both intumescent and brush to resist the passage of cold smoke for 30 minutes as well.
Safelincs sells rebated or surface-mounted intumescent fire door seals which resist fire for 30 or 60 minutes (suitable for FD30 or FD60 fire doors). All Safelincs seals are available for single and double fire doors and can be fitted in the frame or the door leaf.
British Standards set out details on the permitted gaps around a fire door
BS 8214:2008 states that the gap along the sides, top and between the leaves of a double door should be 3 mm +/- 1 mm. Under-door (threshold) gaps should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the particular doorset design.
If the fire door is required to stop cold smoke as well (FDs) it should be fitted with a threshold seal underneath the door to stop the smoke. When fitted, threshold smoke seals should give an even contact with the floor but should not significantly increase friction that could hinder the opening or closing of the door.
When fitting a fire door, the door leaf can be shortened by cutting a section off at the bottom. However, the amount that can be removed at the sides is strictly limited. You need to contact the manufacturer about the maximum that can be planed off.
Fire doors should not be left open
Fire door closers have to be used to ensure that fire doors are kept shut, except when people are passing through them. There are a number of different types of closers on the market, including some which are concealed and unobtrusive – maintaining the character of a door – ideal for stylish offices or historic buildings.
It is illegal to prop fire doors open unless the door holder (also called fire door retainer) is capable of automatically releasing the door in case of a fire being detected. These work either acoustically (‘hearing’ the fire alarm) or by being wired into a building’s fire alarm system.
If users (for example disabled people) find fire doors with closers difficult to open, ‘swing free’ devices can be used
In some circumstance the force needed to open a fire door against the resistance of the fire door closers is too great for the user to manage. Bedroom doors in care facilities for the elderly or disabled and some rooms in clinics or hospitals are examples. Such doors can be fitted with “swing free” devices. These allow the door to be easily opened or closed without any door closer resitance. They also stay open in any open position required. They are linked to a fire alarm system and will resume their self-closing function in the event of a fire.
The entrance doors to flats, within a block of flats, should be fire doors
Where there a re jointly used exit routes the individual entrance doors in blocks of flats should usually be fire doors to safeguard residents in the building.
Fire doors can be painted with ordinary paint; however, fire door fittings need to be fire-rated
Door fittings include hinges, door closers and glazing. Locks just need to be CE marked (the CE marking indicating compliance with EU product legislation). Fire doors seals can be painted over although excessive thickness of paint should be avoided.
Fire doors can be fitted with glass panels
If glazing is required, this has to be carried out using fire resistant glass. There are two main types: Georgian wired and clear glass. Safelincs offers different glass types and a range of common fire door glazing dimensions. Its manufacturing plant will fit the fire door windows and certify the fire door and glazing with a BWF (British Woodworking Federation) certificate.
Fire doors can be fitted with a security viewer
Security viewers can be fitted to fire doors and offer 60 minutes of fire protection. Safelincs offer two models that will cover doors between 35mm and 62mm thick.
Fire doors should be professionally installed
Although a competent builder or joiner can install a fire door, the recommendation would be that the work is carried out under the auspices of the Accredited Fire Door Installers Scheme. This scheme has been developed by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) in association with FIRAS (installer certification scheme), with the purpose of ensuring that fire door installations are carried out correctly, safely and in compliance with current Building Regulations.
Once the fire door has been installed, it is also important that you carry out regular maintenance checks to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. Ask the installer for guidance on the issues to look for. If you choose to keep the door open with a fire door retainer, close the door at night to avoid the door warping.
Fire doors should not be confused with fire exits
Fire exits are there to ensure a safe escape for people in the event of a fire. That is they have to open easily from the inside and need to open fully. Final fire exits leading to the outside of a building do usually not have to be fire resistant. An exception are fire exits leading to major external evacuation routes. However, fire doors are also fire exits if they are on the route to the final fire exit, eg in corridors.
Wyndham Hotel Group, part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, the world’s largest hotel and holiday chain has signed up Safelincs as the only approved fire safety supplier for its UK operations.
In the UK, Wyndham includes 740 hotels, 15000 cottages, 900 boats as well as 450 holiday parks. Hotels such as Ramada, Days Inn and Encore are some of the hotels that are included in their portfolio. As part of the deal Safelincs have offered favourable terms for the hotels including special prices for fire extinguisher servicing and fire alarm panel maintenance. Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD of Safelincs Ltd stated: “We are proud to be selected by Wyndham as their central fire safety provider. We will make sure that hotels in this group, many of which are already customers of ours, will receive benefits from this co-operation”.
If you are a hotel owner or Facilities Manager of a hotel, contact Safelincs on 01507 462176 or email email@example.com to discuss your needs.
Safelincs recently launched a new business arm, Henry Wolfe, offering beautiful and bespoken fire safety solutions for boutique hotels and other design focused
Several HM Prisons recently started the process of introducing the P50 service free extinguisher manufactured largely from composite plastics and aramid fibres (such as Kevlar). These kitemarked extinguishers are 100% corrosion proof and do not require annual servicing nor refilling after five years. In their first ten years of life they are simply visually inspected by the customer’s own personnel. This reduces external visits from contractors and makes the annual vetting of contractors, their equipment and any new fire extinguishers by security personnel unnecessary.
P50s delivered to a prison can easily be x-rayed, as there is no metal cylinder preventing the scan. Equally, when after ten years the extinguishers are being refurbished, the replacements can be brought on site without necessarily opening the extinguishers. While the extinguishers can be refilled easily, a special clamp is required to open the extinguisher, without this the inner and outer body spin against each other without opening the cylinder head. Unauthorised attempts to open the extinguisher for storage of drugs and other illegal items are hence made more difficult. The dual gauges of the P50 are magnetic so security staff can easily verify if a gauge has been tampered with.
The body of the extinguisher, due to it being manufactured from spun fibre has a degree of elasticity which reduces risk of injury if a person is attacked with an extinguisher.
While the main application of the P50 extinguishers lies in the FM market, churches, offices and agriculture, prisons are now becoming an important market for this product. If you would like to know more about the P50 extinguisher, please contact Safelincs on 01507 462517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org