Fire risk assessments for churches

Safelincs has produced a series of videos about fire risk assessment in churches and general fire safety specifically for those with a responsibility for churches. Starting with a three minute video examining the risk assessment process for a church, it is followed by further videos of similar length concisely covering each aspect of church fire safety. These are:

• Sources of ignition
• Flammable materials
• People at risk
• Escape plans and evacuation
• Fire Exits
• Unsupervised visitors
• Arson risks
• Emergency lighting
• Fire safety procedures
• Fire doors
• Fire-fighting equipment
• Fire detection
• Testing of fire equipment

Churches and church halls all have a legal requirement to carry out fire risk assessments. Areas that need special attention are electrical wiring and the careful management of extension leads (frequently used since churches tend not to have many power sockets). Heating systems and any additional heaters need to be regularly maintained and of course candles, in regular use in churches, need to be adequately controlled.
Churches may be at increased risk of fire is when repair or restoration work is being undertaken.

Another consideration is that more churches that are incorporating cafes and hence cooking areas.

Whatever the size or age of church, these “bite-sized” videos will be invaluable for anyone responsible for the general management of a church.
church-fire-risk-assessments

Dorgard retainers hold open fire doors safely in educational premises

University of London College HallWithin schools, colleges and other education buildings there are always a lot of people moving around, especially at the start of lectures or break times. Often they are laden down with books and files and opening fire doors along the route, from one part of the building to another, can be a big problem. The issue of opening heavy fire doors also impacts on the independent mobility of disabled students.

In situations like this, some people will find a ‘solution’, like wedging a fire door open or using an extinguisher to hold the door open. They may not be aware that this action puts them and everyone else in the building in danger and that it is in fact illegal. Buildings like schools and colleges are compartmentalised to prevent the spread of fire through the building, gaining valuable time to escape. Fire doors are part of this compartmentalisation system and by wedging them open they are rendered inactive and will not be able to offer the protection they were designed for. Wedging fire doors open is therefore a serious a breach of fire safety legislation and could lead to the head of the college, school or university being prosecuted, fined or even imprisoned.

The Dorgard fire door retainer offers here a safe and legal solution. It is a fire door holder that once fitted to the door, will hold it open in any position chosen. It then ‘listens’ for the fire alarm and on hearing it will release the door and allows it to close automatically. It offers free access without compromising fire safety. The installation of a Dorgard takes less than 10 minutes and can be carried out by any DIY person.

Dorgard can offer you a cost effective solution to legally hold your fire doors open too. University of London’s College Hall have already made the switch and are enjoying greater access throughout their building with the peace of mind that safety is still paramount and that their fire doors will close in the event of a fire.

“The Dorgard offers a low energy automatic door solution that proved to be the most cost effective way of improving access and independence for wheelchair users.” University of London’s College Hall

Keeping holidaymakers safe for ten years

villa-plusIt’s nearly ten years since Safelincs first started working with Villa Plus, a company providing over 1,250 holiday villas across 14 European destinations. Safelincs is depended upon to ensure that all Villa Plus’ accommodations are equipped with the necessary safety equipment.

Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and domestic first aid kits are sent by Safelincs to a shipping company in the UK for distribution to Villa Plus properties around Europe. The goods are packaged separately in line with each region’s requirement and labelled accordingly.

“Safelincs extensive range of safety products and their ability to meet our specific shipping requirements to different regions makes them an ideal partner to work with. As we grow and launch villas in new and existing destinations Safelincs will be a valuable provider,” says Nick Cooper, Villa Plus director and founder.

Harry Dewick- Eisele, managing director, Safelincs commented: “We pride ourselves on putting customers’ first. Building long-term relationships with organisations such as Villa Plus is a clear indication that our priorities are correct.”

New fire safety legislation for landlords

landlord-offerIn a move to increase the safety of tenants in rented accommodation, a new law will require landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The legislation, which is due to come into force in October 2015, is estimated to help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year. It will require landlords to ensure that a smoke alarm is installed on each storey of a premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

In addition carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in any room which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel-burning appliance. Prior to any new tenancy beginning the landlord will be required to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order.
Testing regularly will remain the tenant’s responsibility.

Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will face sanctions and could face a civic penalty of up to £5,000.

To ensure that smoke alarms are in a good working order and do not have their batteries removed by tenants it is best to install sealed longlife smoke alarms. Safelincs also offers sealed longlife CO alarms, again assuring landlords the safe longterm protection of their tenants.

Safelincs supports Memorial For Bomber Command

1511eThe International Bomber Command Centre, in partnership with Lincoln University, is creating a Memorial Spire which will be delivered to Bourne in Lincolnshire on the 10th of May, followed by a Memorial Wall with the names of 26,500 service men and women from 2 and 5 Group. In a second phase, the names of other Groups will be added.

An Interpretation Centre will then follow with an opening date in 2016, this will house the digital archive which the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust is creating, all the data is going to be in digital format so that the original documents can be preserved for ever. The trust is currently in the process of scanning the documents and photographs so they can be accessed from all over the World. The precious original documents will need to be stored in a protective environment, ensuring that they do not get damaged in the event of a fire. To help the efforts of the trust and to ensure these historical documents are safely stored, Safelincs has donated a Fire Ranger 1511E fireproof safe for free.

Boat Safety Week

Boat Safety weekIn the two decades leading up to 2013, 65 boaters died in boat fires and CO incidents. In 2015, three people living on boats were killed in two fires and there was one carbon monoxide poisoning. Another two people died from CO poisoning on a small commercial fishing boat whilst sleeping aboard in harbour.

Whether it’s at marinas, canals, lakes, coastal inlets, harbours and quaysides, our national population of over 450,000 motorised boats is at risk of fire, explosion and CO poisoning across the whole of the UK.

Boat Safety Week takes place between 25 – 31 May, just as the leisure boating season is getting into swing with school holidays and sunny weekends ahead. Its aim is to raise awareness of how boaters on both coastal and inland waterways can prevent fire and CO incidents and how to react if an incident occurs.

The message, timed for the start of the boating season, is that owners should consider the risks, make regular, basic checks, and follow their engine and appliance operating guidelines, as the essential steps to deal with the fire and carbon monoxide threat.

Even a moderately sized boat can carry hundreds of litres of diesel and/or petrol as well as dozens of kilograms of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). These fuels are combined with readily combustible materials such as wood and glass-reinforced-plastic and they are all placed in close proximity of sources of heat and ignition, such as engines, 12, 24 and 240 volt electrics and solid fuel stoves.

Electrical dangers

According to the Boat Safety Scheme records, electrical problems have been in the top three causes of boat fires in the past five years. Flawed installations, poor maintenance, inappropriate appliances or incorrect use are the root of many incidents – especially in an environment with vibrations, flexing, humidity, high and low temperatures, cramped spaces, water and in many cases salt exposure – electrical systems and installations face a lot of stress compared with the same sort of electrical equipment in buildings. Boat owners need to keep their eyes, ears and noses alert to deal with any problems immediately.

The key potential electrical hazard points include loose connections, worn, chaffed or cracked insulation on wires, exposed battery terminals, low levels of fluid in batteries, combined with inappropriate battery charging, unsuitable or badly maintained appliances, poor fusing and defective breakers and damaged shore line cables, plugs and sockets.

Fuel safety

Boat owners are urged to keep alert to possible leaks, poor running engines and the strong smell of petrol. Spare petrol should not be carried on board unless it is completely unavoidable. If it is required, proper cans should be used and the capacity limited (UK law allows only restricted amounts of spare petrol to be carried aboard.) It should be stored well away from sources of ignition and out of direct sunlight; cans should not be overfilled, as petrol expands and vapour pressure can build up in hot weather. Decanting petrol from containers should be avoided if possible, and re-filling containers or equipment should take place in the open air on the bank and away from sources of ignition.

Solid fuel stoves continue to be a significant cause of fire on inland waterway boats. These heaters are very popular on narrow boats, coastal barges and on some classic and vintage yachts or ex-fishing boats. There were at least two dozen boaters hurt and five killed in using solid fuel stoves in the first decade of the 21st century. And there have been many other incidents where no one was hurt but the boat and belongings aboard suffered a lot of damage.

The main risks to be avoided or managed are the ‘over-firing’ of the stove leading to a boat fire; carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to the escape of stove flue gases into the cabin, items and materials being too close and getting too hot for too long and poor maintenance or misuse of the stove.

Fixed gas systems must be installed to accepted boat installation standards and in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions. Gas appliances and flues should be routinely serviced and maintained by somebody competent to carry out work on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) systems. Gas canisters, bottles or cylinders should be stored upright and in a location where any leaking gas will flow overboard and not into the interior of the craft. Preferably, this will be in a suitable, vapour-tight, self-draining locker.

Flexible hoses should be checked for damage or deterioration and if in any doubt about their good condition, have them professionally checked and renewed. The LPG system can be checked for leakage by routine observation of a bubble tester installed in the cylinder locker, or by testing all joints with leak detection fluid.

Owners of boats without proper galley facilities are recommended to consider using a flask for hot drinks when aboard, as portable camping equipment is not suitable.

Following explosions, fires and CO incidents in boats caravans and other enclosed spaces, boaters should heed any instructions for portable gas equipment that states it should only be used outdoors. Unless any portable gas equipment is specifically designed for boat use, then its usage should be restricted to times ashore. And fuel canisters should always be changed away from the boat and away from ignition sources.

Carbon monoxide

Over 30 boaters have died in the last 20 years from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. While at higher levels it kills, it is still a danger at lower concentrations as it can cause chronic illness with long term effects.

This poison gas has multiple potential sources on boats including all fuel-burning appliances, flues, chimneys, engines and exhausts. It is the by-product of an incomplete combustion of carbon-based appliance and engine fuels – such as gas, LPG, coal, wood, paraffin, oil, petrol and diesel. All such equipment should be installed properly, in the way the manufacturers describe, operational instructions should be followed correctly and regular maintenance should be undertaken. Ventilation should not be blocked; appliance fuels such as gas, coal, wood, oil and paraffin need sufficient air to burn completely and safely.

On no account should charcoal BBQs be brought on board, or be near a cabin during or after use – tests have proved that they actually give off more CO as they are cooling down than they do during the cooking process.

Smoke Alarms and CO Alarms

In the absence of any British or international standards incorporating a suitable code for marine installation, the recommendation is installation of an optical smoke alarm with alkaline batteries that can be removed when the boat is not used for longer periods, especially in winter. Optical smoke alarms recognise the confined nature of the space inside a boat and the potential for high levels of humidity and vibration, wider temperature ranges and an aggressive chemical atmosphere. Even though some boats have 230/240 V AC systems, mains powered alarms are not recommended due to the erratic and unreliable nature of the power supply.

Generally, alarms should be mounted on the deck head (ceiling), 30cm from the cabin sides and within five metres of each protected area of the vessel. On some boats this will mean installing more than one alarm, and in large boats it is recommended to choose units that can be linked together.

For boats with fuel burning appliances, an engine or generator aboard, the recommendation is to fit a suitable audible carbon monoxide alarm for an added re-assurance. Best suited for boats are carbon monoxide alarms that meet BS EN 50291-2 and are approved by BSI for use in boats and caravans.

For the best protection, follow the alarm manufacturer’s installation instructions as far as the space and nature of the boat allow. But if the placement directions are difficult to meet on any boat, try to place the alarm in living quarters between 1m and 3m from the appliance and high up on a wall, but at least 150mm from the ceiling and where the indicator lights can be seen. Before fixing, test that the alarm can be heard from any position in the boat.

More information about CO safety on boats can be found on our website.

For fire extinguishers approved by the Boat Safety Scheme, please visit our P50 fire extinguisher section.

Safelincs is supporting BSS and Fire Kills with the sponsorship of two safety leaflets. ‘Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats’ and ‘Fire Safety on Boats’ 30,000 copies of which will be distributed by 25 Fire and Rescue Services this year.

Renowned private school opts for service-free fire extinguishers

Private SchoolOne of the most distinguished and prestigious private schools in the country has opted to reduce the cost of extinguisher provision by purchasing service-free P50 extinguishers across its estate.

In all, over 1,000 appliances are being installed and commissioned by Safelincs engineers. Unlike traditional extinguishers, P50s do not require an annual service by an external engineer; nor do they need refilling after five years. After ten years they can be refilled and used for a further decade.

The reason for their comparative longevity lies in their construction, which uses materials that are totally corrosion-free. Each year, a simple visual inspection by a member of the school’s own facilities team is all that is required and if new members of staff need to know what to do, they can view a video on the Safelincs website.

The decision by this distinguished educational establishment will see it save servicing costs over the coming years – and will be a contributing factor in ensuring that its young boarders remain safe at all times.

Improve access in workplaces with Dorgard

dorgardThe Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ensures that all employees are safe in their place of work. However, thousands of businesses breach this legislation by wedging fire doors open.

Moving from one office to another with arms full of files or boxes can be cumbersome when you have to open a heavy fire door along the route. Wedging fire doors open is a breach of the legislation, it is dangerous and could lead to the employer being prosecuted, fined or even imprisoned. However, this illegal practice is common within offices and other places of work. Supermarket giant, Tesco, were prosecuted and fined £95,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,321 due to fire doors being wedged open and failure to keep escape routes clear*.

The solution is a device called Dorgard that once fitted to your fire door, will hold the door open legally, allowing free access to all areas of your place of work, without compromising fire safety. It is a battery powered unit that ‘listens’ for the fire alarm. On hearing it, the Dorgard releases the fire door and allows it to close automatically.

Dorgard-Door-Open“They [Dorgards] keep the doors open for us as we have patients walking through most of the day. For the elderly especially, Dorgard makes it easy so they don’t have to struggle through the doors. When we test the fire alarm they kick in straight away and automatically close so we know they’ll close if there is a fire. I would recommend Dorgard, I’m glad we have them.”
Surgery Manager

In the UK over 500,000 Dorgards have already been fitted and are helping to protect lives.

*http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/NewsReleases2010_PR1345.asp#.VK_jTHs9bew

Safelincs launches new website version

Responsive Mobile WebsiteWe have just completed a major overhaul of our Safelincs fire safety website, with our inhouse web designers and developers working for almost a year on a complete coding overhaul. Most of the changes will be invisible to the users, although the site is running faster, which is always welcome. However, there were some great improvements which should give an improved browsing experience. While we had a mobile website for years, our new responsive skin allows users to take benefit of all the features of our website, whether they are on a mobile, a tablet or a PC. The site moulds incredibly elegantly around every device.

Another beautiful change is the new, visually supported drop-down menu which makes browsing sections rapid and intuitive. A great way to explore our huge product range of over 4000 fire safety products and services.

Responsive Safelincs Skin

Explore for yourself on Safelincs fire safety

National Chip Week Fire Safety Tips

ChipsChips are one of the nation’s favourite foods. The National Chip Week (16th – 22nd February) celebrates this passion in a fun way encouraging everyone to eat chips, vote for their favourite condiment and the best chip shop and to share ideas and recipes.

However, with over half of last year’s domestic fires being linked to cooking there is a serious side to this national celebration. Over 3,000 people were injured last year in kitchen fires, many of which involved deep fat fryers. With this in mind we would like to remind everyone planning to cook chips of some fire safety tips.

– If possible use a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer, the thermostat regulates the temperature of the fat and prevents overheating.

– Look out for signs of the oil overheating, if it starts to smoke, the oil is too hot. Turn off the heat or remove from the source of heat and leave to cool.

– Oil can ignite very quickly if splashed onto hot surfaces. Care should therefore be taken not to overfill chip pans (it is recommended that the pan is no more than a third full of oil)

– Never cook with oil after consuming alcohol and always attend to your cooking, never leave the room with a pan still cooking. A chip pan can ignite very quickly. ALWAYS supervise cooking with oil.

– Should your chip pan ignite ensure that you and any occupants of the house are safe. Call 999 and leave the house, closing doors and windows as you go.

– If you are able to, turn off the heat, never try to move a burning chip pan. Burning oil may spill and spread the fire. If you are confident in doing so, use a fire blanket or a fire extinguisher, such as a water mist fire extinguisher or a wet chemical extinguisher

– Think of safer ways to cook chips, oven chips and air fryers are not only safer but healthier ways to enjoy your chips this week.

Lastly, before embarking on cooking chips and joining in the general celebration of the humble chips, check that your smoke alarms and heat alarms are working. A smoke alarm will alert occupants of a fire, giving them precious seconds to evacuate.