What are the new regulations for smoke and CO alarms in social housing?
Smoke alarms have been mandatory in private rented accommodation since 2015, but rules for social housing have remained less clear. Now, under new regulations announced this week, social housing providers will have to adhere to the following rules:
Any rented home including social housing must have a carbon monoxide detector fitted if the property has a fixed appliance like a gas boiler or gas fire
If a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is reported as faulty, landlords or housing providers must fix or replace it as soon as possible
Further details will follow on where the alarms should be fitted and any relevant alarm standards that must be adhered to.
Greater consistency for safety in the rental sector
Around 60 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales and many more from house fires. It is hoped these regulations will help to drive-up standards in social housing. Eddie Hughes, MP for Rough Sleeping and Housing said ‘I’m proud that the new rules being proposed will ensure even more homes are fitted with life-saving alarms. Whether you own your home, are privately renting or in social housing – everyone deserves to feel safe and this is an incredibly important step in protecting those at risk.’
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) welcomes these changes and believes many people will be safer in their homes as a result. Jim Bywater, NFCC said ‘The new regulations will contribute to reducing fire and carbon monoxide casualties and fatalities and bring consistency and greater protection to those living in both private and social rented homes.’
The news comes during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and has been celebrated by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG). After conducting research studies into CO poisoning and poverty in the UK, they have been campaigning for change for a number of years. Safelincs attended the launch event for the APPCOG CO Awareness Week and are proud to support this event each year. Safelincs have also been working with the NFCC to create a free assessment tool to improve fire safety in homes across the UK.
Are you concerned about fire safety at home?
If you are worried about fire safety in your home or someone else’s home, why not complete our Online Home Fire Safety Check? Get tips and advice on how to reduce fire risks.
With winter approaching, the prevalence of viruses such as common colds, flu and coronavirus will increase. Poorly ventilated workplaces can be a hotspot for the spread of germs, leading to staff illness and sickness absence. In 2020 according to the Office of National Statistics Sickness Absence Report, 118.6 million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness or injury. With many of us returning to work this year, the spread of germs in the workplace could cause a headache for many employers and employees.
In order for germs to spread, there needs to be three factors:
A source of infection
A susceptible person to be infected
Transmission from the source to the susceptible person
By removing just one of these factors, germs will be prevented from spreading and infection can be kept under control.
What conditions encourage the spread of germs?
Transmission of germs depends on the type of virus. Here, we will concentrate on airborne diseases that are most commonly transmitted from one person to another via small droplets. These infected droplets are expelled when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, talks or laughs. The infectious droplets can travel through the air and can attach themselves to surfaces.
Stale air that is not well ventilated can encourage diseases to spread. By opening a door or window, fresh air can replace stale air that contains the virus droplets.
What are the common sources of infection?
Common sources of infection in the workplace include surfaces that are regularly touched by anyone using your building. For example, door handles, push plates and light switches are common areas for transmission.
What infection control measures can I introduce to improve ventilation and prevent the spread of germs?
There are a number of easy infection control solutions that can be implemented to reduce the risk of germs spreading. Some of the best tips to incorporate into your germ control procedures are:
Encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly. Install ‘wash your hands’ signs to help remind employees and members of the public to maintain good hand hygiene.
Encourage everyone to cough or sneeze into a handkerchief or into their elbow.
Regularly clean contact surfaces within the workplace.
Minimise the number of contact surfaces in the workplace.
Open windows and doors where possible to improve ventilation.
How can I improve ventilation in a building with fire doors?
Fire doors, whilst a necessary part of the fire safety infrastructure in most workplaces, can be problematic when it comes to infection control. The UK Government guidance on ventilation outlines that ‘Any actions to improve ventilation should not compromise other aspects of safety and security (for example, avoid propping open fire doors)’. Using a fire door retainer such as Dorgard allows fire doors to be held open safely, improving ventilation without compromising fire safety. When the fire alarms sounds, a Dorgard Fire Door Retainer will release the fire door so that it closes, preventing the spread of fire.
What can I do to reduce the number of contact surfaces?
Door handles and door push plates are likely to be common sources of infection in most workplaces. Keeping doors open means that nobody needs to touch the push plate or door handle to gain access. This eliminates the contact surface and therefore the source of infection. Always ensure that fire doors are held open legally and safely using a fire door retainer such as Dorgard.
Foot operated door openers can also be a useful way of minimising contact surfaces. These are particularly useful for toilet doors that usually need to remain shut. Foot door openers are cheap and easy to install and allow staff to open the door using their foot rather than touching a handle or push plate.
Act now to protect your workforce this winter
Limiting the spread of germs in the workplace throughout the winter is more important than ever following the return to work for many employees in 2021. Making these small changes in your workplace as part of your infection control policy could go a long way to reducing sickness amongst the workforce. Contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email email@example.com for further help and advice on controlling infection in the workplace.
Not only will the P50 Service-Free Fire Extinguisher save you money, it is also an eco-friendly choice. With a low-carbon manufacturing process, long-lasting design and fully recyclable construction, P50 Fire Extinguishers are a great option if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint. Carbon emissions are reduced even further as there are no engineer visits required to your site.
P50 Fire Extinguishers are energy efficient to manufacture. Unlike traditional fire extinguishers that are made of steel, P50s are made from granules of plastic. These are formed into a cylinder shape using blow moulding. This is a low-energy, clean and eco-friendly manufacturing process. It produces zero wastage as any off-cuts of plastic are turned back into granules and re-used.
P50 eco-friendly extinguishers are made in the UK at Britannia Fire’s factory in Norfolk. By buying a fire extinguisher that is manufactured in the UK, you are reducing the number of miles the product has travelled to reach your premises. This in turn, reduces your carbon footprint and contributes to lowering your environmental impact.
Long-lasting design vs traditional steel extinguishers
The construction of P50 Fire Extinguishers is unlike anything else on the market. Because of the materials used and the quality of assembly, the chemicals in P50 extinguishers last 10 years without requiring a refill. This compares favourably to the usual 5 years for a traditional steel extinguisher. Not only do they last twice as long, P50 extinguishers can also be refilled by the manufacturer after 10 years for an extra 10 years of service. Meaning that one unit can last for 20 years! The unit is then recyclable at the end of its useable life.
P50 extinguishers do not suffer corrosion like many traditional extinguishers and are UV treated to withstand the long-term effects of exposure to sunlight. This makes them completely weather resistant and durable, allowing them to be used for a longer period and in harsh conditions. The P50 Extinguishers are also made with marine-grade components. They have extinguishing ingredients that are kinder to watercourses and marine wildlife.
No annual servicing miles by an external contractor
The use of P50 extinguishers further reduces carbon emissions as there is no need for a servicing contractor to travel to you site each year to service the P50s. Each unit simply requires a quick visual check by a member of staff annually. This is fully compliant with fire safety legislation in the UK and is due to the unique construction of the units.
Reduce the number of fire extinguishers
P50 Foam Fire Extinguishers give better coverage than many other foam extinguishers. They are dielectrically tested, meaning that they can be used on live electrical equipment up to 1kV from a 1m distance. It is usual to find a combination of CO2 and water or CO2 and foam extinguishers in many settings. Traditionally, CO2 extinguishers have been used to tackle electrical fires. Foam or water are used for class A (Solid combustibles like wood and paper) or class B (flammable liquids). The P50 Foam Extinguisher can be used to tackle all of these types of fire, making it an ideal substitute for the CO2 and water/foam combination.
Reducing the number of extinguishers at your premises not only reduces cost. It is also a more environmentally friendly way of operating. The environmental benefits of the P50 extinguishers are industry-leading. They can contribute towards wider business goals such as carbon footprint reduction and environmental policy. Coupled with the huge cost saving benefits, businesses and organisations do not have to choose between eco-friendly vs cost. In the case of the P50, you can have the best of both worlds.
Bonfire night can be a time for family and friends to gather and enjoy autumnal nights outside. Whatever you’re planning for 5th November this year, read our top bonfire and firework safety tips for Guy Fawkes Night.
How do you keep safe on bonfire night?
Rather than run the risk of lighting a fire or fireworks at home, attend an organized event if you can.
If you do plan to celebrate bonfire night at home, follow these top tips to stay safe
It is not advisable to store fireworks for any length of time at home as they are explosives and could be very dangerous. If you are intending to store fireworks, ensure they are kept dry in a metal container. Store them in a place where the temperature does not change significantly (for example not on a window sill) and away from anything that could ignite or cause sparks such as electrical items, heaters, matches or lighters. Make sure they are not stored near other combustible materials like card or wood and place them out of reach of children and pets. Always follow manufacturer guidelines for storage periods.
Safelincs is pleased to announce the launch of a joint venture working in partnership with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Home Office’s Fire Kills campaign, the Online Home Fire Safety Check Tool. This innovative online assessment tool will be made available to all households across England and will enable them to complete a home assessment to help identify fire hazards in their home. The tool will also suggest changes that can be easily made to reduce the risk of a fire.
Safelincs donated their time and expertise to build the system and will support and provide the system free of charge to all fire and rescue services across England. This tool will complement the NFCC Person-Centred Framework. Neil Odin, Chair of NFCC’s Prevention Committee and NFCC’s Prevention Programme Executive, said, “We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from FRSs who attended the conference, with many having already signed up to the on-boarding process.” He went on to say “In the long-term NFCC would like to see all FRSs adopt the new Online Home Fire Safety Check and use as an integral part of their prevention activities. This, we hope, will provide a consistent approach to identifying and logging issues related to home safety prevention activities, and assist with centrally capturing valuable data which will be made available for all FRSs to use and plan future prevention strategies.”
Safelincs have a passion for sharing free fire safety information with the public and working collaboratively with Fire Kills and NFCC to develop this online tool gives us great satisfaction. Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD Safelincs said ‘This co-operation has created a fire safety tool that makes a huge difference to people. It is easy to use and delivers well-tailored advice’
Our new free fire extinguisher guide is a useful resource for anyone involved in purchasing fire safety equipment. Providing a complete overview to different types of fire extinguisher, this complete fire extinguisher guide answers our most frequently asked questions.
Ideal for fire wardens and anyone involved in purchasing fire safety equipment for businesses or organisations, it offers a complete introduction to fire extinguishers. It is also a useful reference tool for anyone starting out in the fire safety industry, such as fire extinguisher technicians.
An introduction to fire extinguisher types
Download this printable resource for a complete overview on fire extinguisher types and uses, including:
Fire extinguisher classes
Which fire extinguisher to use on which fire
Fire extinguishers for electrical fires
How does a fire extinguisher work?
Where should a fire extinguisher be located?
How many extinguishers are needed
Fire extinguisher ratings
Up to date advice on dealing with lithium-ion battery fires plus innovative new technologies like P50 Service-free Fire Extinguishers make this comprehensive guide a great new tool for businesses and organisations.
According to the Equality Act 2010, schools and educational premises have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. So, what is a reasonable adjustment? And, what can schools and universities do to improve access for all and meet fire safety requirements in education?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
The Equality Act 2010 tackles disability discrimination in schools and other organisations or businesses across society. It sets out a responsibility to remove barriers experienced by someone who has a disability. Anyone who has a disability should be able to receive the same service as far as possible as someone who is not disabled. What is considered a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on things like the size of the organisation, and the money and resources available. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend the setting.
Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education
The adjustments you need to make to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety will depend on what is set out in your fire risk assessment. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university.
What examples are there of reasonable adjustments in schools or higher education establishments for fire safety?
A reasonable adjustment can be:
A change to the way things are done such as a change to a rule or policy. For example, this might involve a change to an escape route.
A change to a physical or architectural feature in a building or outside areas. This could include using a fire door retainer on internal fire doors to allow easier access for all or installing visual fire alarm beacons with louder audible sirens for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
Provision of extra services or aids. This could include providing an evacuation aid such as an evacuation chair.
The type of changes and extra aids or services will depend entirely on your circumstances and the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university. Fire safety requirements will be set out in detail in your fire risk assessment and should be implemented.
Fire door retainers and the Equality Act 2010
Fire door retainers such as Dorgard are a cost-effective and easy to install solution for improving access for all in schools and universities. Fire doors are a necessity in many buildings but can be a barrier to anyone with a mobility impairment as they are heavy to operate and difficult to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.
Dorgard is certified and tested to British Standards EN1155:1997 and EN 1634. It is a legal solution for holding open fire doors. This allows easier access for everyone including any disabled users with a mobility impairment. When the fire alarm sounds in your building, Dorgard will release the fire door so that it closes and provides the usual protection. You should never wedge or prop open fire doors using an uncertified device or object. The fire doors will be unable to provide any protection if they are open when a fire starts.
The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.
With only a small percentage of sports clubs and gyms having a defibrillator on site, is it an important addition to your sports facility’s first aid provision? We look at the risk posed by cardiac arrest and the life saving potential of defibrillators at sports clubs, gyms or sports centres.
Why are defibrillators important for sporting clubs or gyms?
Let’s look at the facts:
Research shows that over 90% of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes happen either during or immediately after exercise.
The average age of people suffering from a cardiac arrest is between 35 and 44. But, some younger sportspeople may have an undiagnosed heart condition.
Apart from injuries that are directly related to the sport being played, cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in young sports people.
Having an AED close at hand can make all the difference. Research shows that using an AED within 3 to 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest can mean survival rates are as high as 50-70%. Many lives have been saved during sporting activities by having an AED present at the time of cardiac arrest. Parkrun’s collection of stories from cardiac arrest victims highlights the importance of having an AED close by.
Is it a legal requirement for sports clubs or sports centres to have a defibrillator?
Whilst it is not currently a legal requirement in the UK for sports facilities to provide an AED, it is a valuable addition to the wellbeing and protection of sports players, club members and the local community.
Choosing a defibrillator for sports clubs and gyms
Anyone can use an automatic defibrillator – no training is required. They automatically deliver the shock to the heart. It is not possible to make matters worse if they are not used correctly.
Some defibrillators like the Heartsine 360P give better protection from water which may be a consideration if they are likely to be used outside. Look out for the AEDs IP rating which shows the level of protection from dust and water.
Consider the location for your AED. It should be easy to find in an emergency so it can be accessed as quickly as possible. The location will also determine whether you need to purchase an external defibrillator cabinet or an internal defibrillator cabinet. If you are locating the AED outside or somewhere like a football clubhouse where the temperature may drop below 8⁰C, then an external storage cabinet is required. These cabinets have integral heating to ensure the defibrillator stays at the optimum temperature. Because of the heating element, outdoor cabinets need to be installed by an electrician. Internal cabinets are simpler to install, just requiring screwing or bolting into the wall.
For events like Parkrun, marathons or large tournaments, an AED with a portable protective carry case is likely to be a good option. Many defibrillators come with carry cases, but they can also be purchased separately.
Maintaining your defibrillator
Community clubs, sports centres and gyms may be concerned about providing a defibrillator because of the maintenance requirements. Defibrillators self-test on a regular basis. They will flag up any issues, so maintenance of a defibrillator is not as daunting as it may first appear. One of the main things to look out for is expiry dates for pads and batteries.
Any AED will require replacement pads and batteries as these have an expiry date which varies depending on the manufacturer. Some AEDS such as Zoll AED 3 have a 5 year pad and battery life plus if you purchase a defibrillator from Safelincs, you can receive free replacement pads.
For complete peace of mind or if there is no one to carry out a visual inspection at your sports facility, we can organise a defibrillator inspection from one of our trained engineers as often as you like.
Defibrillator cost vs benefit
Although the initial outlay for a defibrillator can seem like a lot for a community organisation or sports facility, the potential for being able to offer life-saving treatment makes it a worthy investment. Defibrillators have relatively low maintenance costs and no requirement for training (for a fully automatic defibrillator). So, after the initial installation, AEDs can provide a service to the members and community without having high-cost implications. An important and worthwhile investment!
Most of us will come into contact with fire doors in our daily life, either at home, at work or in public buildings. But how much do you know about fire doors and their role in saving lives? We’ve compiled a list of key fire door questions based on what customers ask our experts in our fire safety forum.
1. Why are fire doors so important?
Fire doors are important because they keep fire or smoke in the room or ‘compartment’ in which it started. They stop it from spreading to other areas of the building. Fire doors are an integral part of any building’s passive fire protection system.
2. What do fire doors do?
Fire doors save lives and prevent further damage to the building and its contents:
They contain the fire in the room in which it started
Fire doors keep escape routes, such as corridors, clear from fire, giving occupants of the building longer to escape and better access for the fire service
They protect the remainder of the building, its contents and other buildings nearby from further damage.
3. How do fire doors work?
Fire doors prevent the spread of fire for a specified time. They are constructed from materials that will withstand fire for either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on the fire door rating. Fire doors are fitted with intumescent strips in a groove on every edge of the door or fire door frame. When a fire breaks out, the heat causes the intumescent strips to expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame. This seals the room and stops the spread of fire for a given time. A fire door will only work if it is closed when the fire breaks out, so you should always ensure that your fire door is fitted with an automatic door closer and a sign that identifies the door as a fire door.
4. How are fire doors made?
Fire doors are usually thicker than a standard door and most have a solid core of variable material. The construction of fire doors varies depending on the manufacture. But, the critical part is that it is tested and certified to withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Manufacturers must have the design of their fire doors and frames tested together as a set at an approved fire door testing centre. Then they must be considered for certification. When certification is approved, every fire door set constructed to the same design specifications by that manufacturer will be fixed with a label. The label identifies the manufacturer, date of manufacture and fire rating. This label can usually be found on the top edge of the door.
5. How long do fire doors last?
Fire doors and their frames are usually tested to hold back fire for 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60). Their ability to withstand fire is dependent on them being properly installed with the correct seals and fire rated hardware including fire door closers. The condition of a fire door, especially one that’s in regular use could deteriorate over time. Check your fire doors regularly and ensure any fire door maintenance is attended to promptly. Fire door inspections can help to identify non-compliant fire doors. Fire doors can have a rating greater than 60 minutes but these are not required in most situations.
6. Are fire doors a legal requirement?
Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy. As set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, building operators in England and Wales should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to manage their fire safety precautions. Their legal responsibilities include a duty to reduce the risk of fire spreading within the premises. Fire doors play an important part in reducing this risk in many buildings. These types of buildings should have a fire risk assessment carried out. Fire risk assessments are an in-depth review of the premises. They will highlight any fire risks with recommendations to reduce or eliminate these risks, including where fire doors should be used and what rating they should be.
7. Do I need fire doors in my house or flat?
Fire rated doors can be a great way to add extra protection against fire in your home. But are they a legal requirement?
Houses and bungalows: In many homes in the UK fire doors are not a legal requirement, however there are some exceptions. Building regulations details where fire doors should be used:
Any new build or home renovation that has three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell. This applies to loft conversions where an extra floor has been added to a two-storey home.
Any door leading from your home into an integral garage must be a fire door. In most domestic situations, FD30 (fire doors with a 30 minute fire rating) are sufficient.
Flats and HMOs: Your block of flats should have had a fire risk assessment carried out. This will detail which doors are required to be fire doors. Building regulations Approved Document B2 sets out the following standards:
Every flat within a block of flats or HMO should have a fire door fitted at the entrance onto the communal area.
Flats located on floors 4.5m above ground level must have a fire rated door fitted between all habitable rooms as well as the front door.
Ground floor flats do not usually need internal fire doors as long as each room has an accessible way to escape. They do still need a fire door to be fitted at the entrance if the front door opens onto a communal area such as a corridor.
FD30 fire doors (30 minute fire door rating) should be used for flats.
8. Can fire doors be painted?
Although fire doors must be fitted with fire rated hinges, locks and hardware, they do not need a special type of paint. You can paint fire doors using regular decorative paint or varnish without damaging their performance. Avoid using heat or chemical paint strippers if the intumescent seals are in place. Also avoid painting over any hinges, hardware or seals.
There is no need to compromise on style and decoration with fire doors. Choose from a wide range of glazing and finishing options including real wood veneer, Formica laminate or paint. Our fire doors can even be pre-painted in any RAL colour of your choice, saving time and hassle and giving a professional finish.
It is dangerous to ‘prop’ or ‘wedge’ open fire doors. Fire doors are fitted with self-closing devices so that if a fire breaks out, they close and will perform as intended. If a fire door is wedged open, it will not slow or stop the spread of fire. Using a fire door retainer or free-swing door closer will ensure that in the event of a fire the fire door will still automatically close, ensuring fire safety is maintained.
Fire doors can be heavy and cumbersome to operate. They can also cause accessibility issues in some buildings. Fire door retainers, like Dorgard, are a practical and legal solution to this issue. A Dorgard Fire Door Retainer can easily be fitted to an existing fire door and will hold the fire door open legally until it ‘hears’ the sound of your fire alarm. When the alarm sounds, Dorgard will release the fire door, allowing it to close, stopping the spread of fire. Fire door retainers can also help to improve ventilation.
Fire doors must be fitted by a competent individual. You should ensure that the person fitting your fire doors has had the relevant training to do so. Whatever the rating of a fire door, if it is badly fitted, it may not withstand a fire for any more than 5 minutes. There are legal requirements and specifications as set out by building regulations governing the installation of fire doors. The gap between the fire door and frame, for example, should be between 2 and 4mm. These specifications can be difficult to meet unless installation is by someone with experience and joinery skills.
The regulations around the fitting of fire doors can be confusing. Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies does not specify that any particular certification is required to install a fire door. However, The Fire Safety Order states that they should be installed by a competent person. That is someone with sufficient training and experience, qualifications, and knowledge.
Using a professional fire door installer will give a Responsible Person or homeowner peace of mind that the fitting has been carried out correctly and that the fire door will perform as it should in the event of a fire.
Buy selected products from Safelincs and help to raise vital funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. We are pleased to announce that for a limited time, we will be donating £1 for every selected item sold.
Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD from Safelincs hopes that in addition to fundraising, home safety issues faced by people living with dementia will be highlighted “Safelincs aims to raise awareness of what can be done to support anyone living with symptoms of dementia to stay safe at home, particularly with regard to fire risks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Our new article 'Home Safety for People with Dementia' provides top home safety tips. We hope this will help families, friends or carers to protect people living with dementia as far as possible so that they can live safely at home.
The symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and confusion can mean that the risk of a fire occurring is greater. The likelihood of being affected by carbon monoxide poisoning from everyday appliances could also be increased. We hope to encourage everyone to support our fundraising by purchasing one of our selected smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms or other safety products either for themselves or for other vulnerable friends or family who may be more at risk.
Naomi Walters, Regional Fundraising Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK said “There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and the condition has a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of families. Alzheimer’s and the other forms of dementia are now one of society’s biggest medical challenges, but with research they can be overcome.
“We can’t thank Safelincs and their customers enough for raising vital funds for dementia research and helping us in our mission to make life-changing research breakthroughs possible for people with dementia.”
Help us to raise much needed funds that will support Alzheimer’s Research UK to continue to conduct vital research! They hope that their work into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment mean future generations can be free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.