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.
Here’s a list of things you need to know about fire exits based on questions raised by customers and answered by fire safety professionals in our fire safety forum.
In this article we refer to FINAL fire exits when we mention fire exits or fire exit doors.
1. Is any door leading to the outside potentially a fire exit, including your normal entrance?
Not all doors leading to the outside can be used as a fire exit, sliding or revolving doors must not be used for exits specifically intended to be used as fire exits. Doors leading to enclosed courtyards might also not be suitable as fire exits.
In the event of a fire it must be possible for staff and visitors to evacuate your premises as quickly and as safely as possible. This is often through the door by which your staff or the public entered. However, additional fire exits will often be installed to reduce the escape distance or to provide an alternative exit in case the main entry/exit is blocked by fire.
2. Can final fire exit doors be left open?
Security may be a separate issue, but it is completely acceptable to have final fire exit doors standing open. The only time that this should not happen is if the final fire escape door is also acting as a fire-resistant door – although this would be very rare. The issue of fire exit doors left standing open is getting regularly confused with the issue of internal fire doors which must only be held open with a fire door retainer and have a door closer fitted.
3. Must fire exits be easily opened from inside the building?
Fire exit doors must not be locked or fastened in a way that prevents them from being easily and immediately opened from the inside in an emergency. There are a variety of ways to secure fire exit doors in this way:
Also called push bars or crash bars, these are used where large numbers of people are attempting to travel at speed through a fire exit, as minimal pressure on the bar releases the locking mechanism.
Emergency push pads are similar to push bars but feature a small pad as opposed to a horizontal bar. They should only be used where a panic situation is unlikely to arise in an emergency evacuation scenario e.g. when only staff familiar with the building and not members of the general public are using the exit.
This is similar to the Redlam bolt; when the handle is pulled, the Kingpin breaks into two pieces, allowing the spring-loaded bolt to retract and thus release the door. The door can, at all times, be used for non-emergency purposes by a key holder. Again, this bolt is not suitable for areas used by the general public.
Short for magnetic lock, this holds the door shut using an electromagnetic force between a magnet and a steel plate. Typically maglocks can have a keypad for access from outside and a green quick release button inside for use in an emergency. These systems can be wired into alarm systems that automatically release if the fire alarm system activates or the power supply fails.
4. Should fire exit doors always be unlocked whilst a building is in use?
Fire exit doors must not be locked with a key or padlock whilst a building is in use. However, when a building is unoccupied it can be locked as securely as required. If drastic security measures like chains, padlocks or steel bars are required, the first person entering the building in the morning must remove all of these.
It is generally recommended to create a wall mounted board containing the shapes of the security devices used (e.g. padlock) on which each item can be hung. This acts as a visual aid to stop staff forgetting that doors are still locked.
Forgetting to unlock security devices could lead to severe prosecution. We would therefore recommend to only use proper panic bars, etc. These can offer excellent security and allow safe escape in case of an emergency.
5. Can fire exit doors be any colour?
Yes, fire exit doors can be any colour. The important thing is that the exit doors are clearly signed.
6. Should fire exit doors open in the direction of escape?
Yes, fire exit doors should open in the direction of escape. However, in the workplace it may be permissible to have an exit door opening inwards if it is providing excess for less than 60 staff without public access.
7. Does the number of people using a building increase the number of fire exits that are required?
Yes, the more people that use a building will affect the number of fire exits required. The width of the fire exit is also influenced by this. For example, the minimum width of a fire escape catering for up to 60 people is 750mm. For full details of width requirements and the number of exits required, please see the Building Regulations section of the UK Government’s Planning Portal. See also our fire exit help and information page.
8. Must emergency routes and fire exits be indicated by signs?
Fire exit routes need to be marked clearly with emergency exit signs and have to be sufficiently lit, even when the electric power supply has failed. Therefore, emergency routes and fire exits usually require emergency lighting of adequate intensity. Final fire exits can be illuminated themselves or externally lit by an emergency light.
9. Must emergency routes and fire exits be kept clear of obstruction?
Final fire exit doors should never be blocked from the inside or outside. Equally, the internal escape routes must not be blocked. Combustible items that could catch alight can act as a fuel source for a fire and could increase the spread of a fire. These items should not be kept on corridors, stairways or circulation spaces. Such items include portable heaters (bottled gas or electric radiant heaters) and gas cylinders.
10. If the fire exit leads onto a road or car park, is a “No Parking” sign required?
It is important that the exit route is kept clear at all times. A ‘No Parking’ sign may be needed to prevent cars from parking directly in front of the final fire exit door. Additionally, a barrier could also be put in place.
View our related help guides for more information on fire exits and doors.
Fire door retainers have many benefits. They can help businesses to comply with fire door regulations, providing easy access for everyone and improving ventilation. In larger premises, maintaining a lot of individual fire door retainers could become a headache. Dorgard Pro fire door retainer system provides a solution, allowing central control of all the fire door retainers. It gives peace of mind that should a fire break out anywhere on-site, all the fire doors will automatically close.
How does it work?
The Dorgard Pro core system is made up of a central transmitter (Fireco ProHub) and fire door retainers (Dorgard Pro). The central transmitter can be wired directly into your existing fire alarm panel. Or, if this is not an option, the Fireco ProHub can be acoustically activated. When the ProHub is activated by the fire alarm, it communicates wirelessly to every Dorgard Pro fire door retainer. The wireless signal alerts each Dorgard Pro to release, ensuring that all fire doors close automatically. The status of each Dorgard Pro is monitored by the central transmitter and it will instantly alert you to any faults or low batteries.
Dorgard Pro fire door retainers are installed on existing fire doors throughout your premises. They have a carpet-friendly design and are battery powered by a 5 year ‘fit and forget’ battery. The Dorgard Pro retainers are not affected by high levels of background noise. They allow fire doors to be held open legally at any angle to improve access and ventilation throughout the building.
Flexibility for bespoke configuration
Fireco ProHub can also be linked to the InSite cloud based remote monitoring software. This software gives you the ability to monitor the live status of the system from your mobile phone or laptop, anywhere in the world!
Typically a Fireco Prohub has a range of up to 50m, depending on the type of environment. Fireco ProExtenders can be added to give a greater range for larger buildings. This allows up to 500 Dorgard Pro retainers to be controlled in one system. In addition, should premises be extended, extra units can be added any time after the initial installation to expand the system.
For added flexibility, Freedor Pro can also be added to the system. Freedor Pro is a free swing door closer which takes the weight out of heavy fire doors and can hold doors open at any angle. In the same way as the Dorgard Pro, Freedor Pro can also be centrally controlled by the ProHub.
Is it suitable for my premises?
The Dorgard Pro system is ideal for lots of environments, including schools and universities, hospitals and care homes, manufacturing, offices, hotels and hospitality, retail and public buildings. As it is unaffected by noisy environments and can be centrally controlled, the system is very versatile. Therefore, it lends itself to large sites where monitoring of each individual fire door retainer would be time consuming and difficult to manage.
As the Dorgard Pro system works in conjunction with your existing fire alarm and fire doors, there is no need for additional disruption or equipment. The wireless communication also means that there is very little wiring, if any (depending on how you connect the ProHub to the alarm panel) involved in the installation.
How do I get a quote?
Firstly, to provide you with a quotation, an engineer needs to visit your site to carry out a survey. The survey is free of charge and means we can design a system that is suited to your environment. Next, we will provide a quotation based on your system design.
If you decide to install Dorgard Pro, our team of engineers will come to your site and fit the system. Once it’s up and running, the Dorgard Pro system requires very little maintenance. Safelincs provides an exclusive 7 year extended warranty for added peace of mind.
Book a FREE site survey now!
Get in touch now to book your free site survey or find out more. Call 0800 612 6537 or fill out our short Dorgard Pro booking form to register your interest. After receiving your form, a member of our customer service team will be in touch to arrange the survey.
If you are the owner, landlord, employer or occupier of a business premises, including offices, you are responsible for fire safety under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and are known as the ‘responsible person’. As the responsible person in your office, you must ensure that you:
Identify risks from the fire risk assessment and put measures in place to reduce or manage them
Inform staff of the risks and of their responsibilities to ensure good fire safety is achieved
Ensure adequate fire safety measures have been put in place and maintain them
Have an appropriate fire safety procedure and communicate this to staff and visitors
Provide training to staff to ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a detailed review of your office space to identify fire risks and provide recommendations to either mitigate, reduce or manage them. A fire risk assessment can be carried out by a competent person or a professional.
Alternatively, you can request that a trained fire risk assessorcompletes your office fire risk assessment for you. You will receive a comprehensive fire risk assessment and detailed guidance should any recommendations for improvement be required.
What kind of fire safety measures will I be required to put in place?
To ensure that you are meeting all your legal obligations you will need to look at the following areas:
Are your emergency evacuation routes and exits clear from hazards and well signposted?
Do you have adequate means to detect a fire and warn others?
Do you have appropriate fire fighting equipment and is it in the right place?
Are any dangerous substances stored correctly?
Think about the people who are in your office (both staff and visitors), particularly those with special considerations such as the elderly and people with disabilities
Provide fire safety information and training
Emergency evacuation routes and exits
Staff escaping a building must be visually directed to the safest and usually quickest route leading to the nearest fire exit. Ensure that photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) fire escape route signs are indicating the nearest exit and are clearly visible.
You need to ensure that even if the mains power fails, all escape route signs are visible and that stairs and uneven floors are lit sufficiently to escape safely. You can achieve this by installing emergency lights or by installing illuminated fire exit signs in the first place.
Every member of staff must be made aware of where the nearest fire exits are and which routes to take when exiting the building. The best way of ensuring that all staff know the escape routes is to ensure that when a new staff member starts you complete a ‘fire walk’. This enables you to show staff all the fire escape routes and where fire fighting equipment is located.
You should carry out regular fire drills, ensuring that you also include practising taking alternative routes if your nearest fire escape should be blocked by a fire.
When planning your evacuation procedure ensure that you also include how you would safely evacuate someone with reduced mobility. Evacuation chairs offer a safe and easy solution to ensure that everyone can escape safely in the event of a fire. You should ensure that staff are trained to use equipment and also that the evacuation equipment is maintained and serviced.
Fire extinguishers and maintenance
Choosing the right type of extinguisher
Portable fire extinguishers can be very valuable in preventing small fires getting out of hand and turning into large fires that can put lives at risk and destroy buildings. The safety of your staff and visitors should be the main priority and staff should only be encouraged to use a portable fire extinguisher if they have been trained and as long as it does not put them in any danger.
It is paramount that you have the correct type of fire extinguisher to tackle the type of fire that could occur in your office. Installing extinguishers that can tackle more than one type of fire, such as the dry water mist fire extinguisher, will reduce the number of different types required in your office and will also reduce the risk of using the wrong type. Dry water mist extinguishers can be used on class A, B and C fires as well as on live electrical fires.
As the responsible person you will need to ensure that there is an adequate fire detection system in your offices. A common way to achieve this is to install fire alarms. The size, configuration and use of your office will define what sort of fire alarm system you require.
Make sure that all employees understand that the first thing to do if they discover a fire is to press the nearest manual call point (also called manual break points). This alerts all of your staff of the fire. New staff must be shown the call points during their induction period.
Where office buildings are shared with other companies, make sure that a system is in place for notifying all the companies in the building in the event of a fire.
Free fire safety log book
It is essential that you keep a record of all your fire safety checks and fire drills in a fire safety logbook.
We offer a free online log book with custom reminders and the ability to print it if you wish to keep a hard copy. Keeping an online logbook will ensure that it is protected in the event of a fire so that you can show your due diligence and compliance.
As the responsible person it is your legal obligation to ensure that adequate emergency lighting is installed across all the escape routes and exits from every area of the building with a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours. Emergency lighting is essential to light escapes routes for emergency evacuations when normal mains-powered lighting fails.
There are different types of emergency lights, some function as a normal light and others function only as an emergency light source. As a starting point you should know what type of emergency light you want to install for example; do you want a maintained emergency light (stays on constantly) or a non-maintained emergency light (illuminates only in the event of a mains power failure)?
Where to install emergency lights and signs
When deciding where to install emergency lights, take into account any hazards that there may be along the evacuation route, such as corners, stairways or uneven flooring. You must also ensure that fire alarm call points and equipment used for firefighting, such as extinguishers or fire blankets, are adequately illuminated to be easily seen or located. Some areas will require continued operation (e.g. a chemical processing room, operation theatre etc); higher continued lighting requirements must be considered in these areas.
A sub-category of emergency lighting is fire exit signs, which are green ‘running man’ signs with arrows that guide people towards the nearest exits. These are either internally lit in the same fashion as space emergency lighting or, in case sufficient other emergency lights are available, they can be photoluminescent. Such ‘glow-in-the-dark signs store energy from either natural or artificial light and releases this stored energy when the light source is no longer there, emitting a yellow/green glow to illuminate the text on the sign.
You should refer to your fire risk assessment to ensure that you have covered all the essential fire escape routes and addressed any hazards on your site that were highlighted in this assessment. It is a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment and you should refresh this assessment if the activities within your premises change or if significant changes to the layout are made. You can find authoritative guidance in the government's fire risk assessment guides.
As with all fire safety equipment, regular testing of your emergency lights must be carried out to ensure that it is working correctly. You should test that the lights are triggered when the mains supply is cut, and also that all the lights are illuminated as they should be. This can be done with the use of a fish key.
You will need to test your lighting once a month and ensure that a full discharge test is carried once a year. Log the results as any other fire safety equipment tests in your fire safety logbook.
If you would like to know more about emergency lighting our emergency lighting guides can provide you with useful information.
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CO detectors, or carbon monoxide alarms, are essential for the detection of a deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO). This gas cannot be seen, tasted or smelt and is only detected with the use of co detectors. It is produced through the incomplete combustion of fuel, such as gas, wood, coal and oil.
Before we go on to look at CO detector false alarms here is some advice on what you should do if your alarm goes off.
What to do when your carbon monoxide alarm is going off
If your CO detector is chirping do not assume that it is a false alarm, remember carbon monoxide can’t be seen, tasted or smelt. You should assume that there is CO present and should follow these steps to ensure your safety.
Stay calm, open doors and windows to increase ventilation
Where safe to do so, turn off any fuel-burning appliance
Leave the premises and notify other occupants of the potential carbon monoxide leak (you should also notify any occupant of premises adjoined to your home as CO can seep through walls and floors
Call Gas Emergency Services 0800 111 999 or a local Gas Safe Registered Engineer to check for the source of carbon monoxide
The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
Having persistent dull headaches and tension type headaches.
Having waves of dizziness or feeling light headed and off balance.
Nausea / Vomiting
Feeling like you need to be sick (nausea) and actually being sick (vomiting).
Pains in your stomach or lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.
Sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (dyspnoea).
Having no energy or feeling tired, sleepy, lethargic and sluggish.
Sudden collapse, seizures or loss of consciousness.
Confusion, difficulty concentrating and becoming easily irritated.
What causes CO detector false alarms?
A false alarm is when your CO detector alarms and where no carbon monoxide is detected by your engineer. There could be several reasons for this:
The carbon monoxide detected did not come from your own appliances but may have seeped through the walls or floor from a neighbour. Check if your neighbours have fuel-burning appliances that might emit carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide might escape from chimney stacks allowing carbon monoxide to enter your premises via a joint loft space.
The replace-by date may have been exceeded. CO alarms become erratic once expired. This is the most common reason for false alarms.
Excessive moisture from a bathroom may set off your CO alarm. CO alarms should not be installed in areas with excessive steam.
Lead acid battery chargers produce hydrogen gas which sets off CO detectors. Keep this in mind if you are charging your caravan/boat battery at home.
Freshly screeded floors emit a gas that sets off carbon monoxide alarms.
The carbon monoxide alarm that you have installed may not be suitable for the type of premises, for example if it is installed in a caravan, tent, boat or living quarters of a horsebox you will need to ensure that your alarm is Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2. Alarms tested to BS EN50291-1 are only for use in home environments and are not suitable for camping and caravanning.
On rare occasions if here is a heavy smoker in a room that is poorly ventilated the CO from smoking may trigger an alarm.
Homes that are adjacent to very busy roads may experience higher levels of CO in the home when windows are open as traffic fumes may enter the room and set your alarm off.
The sound that your alarm is making may not be the alarm sound to alert you that there are dangerous levels of CO present. Most alarms have several audible sounds to indicate things such as low battery warning or that there is a fault with the alarm. When you install an alarm read the user manual and get to know what the different sounds indicate. Keep the manual safe so that you can refer to it should the alarm go off.
Buying a CO detector
You should have a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance. Only chose CO detectors that have met the rigorous testing standards of the European standard EN50291. That way you will have peace of mind that this vital alarm has been manufactured and tested to the highest standards.