Fire alarm system in hotel prevents spread of fire

A fire which broke out in the boiler room of the Beach Arms Hotel in Basingstoke, was detected at the early stages of onset due to a well maintained fire alarm system.

The fire was detected and the alarm raised at around midday. Two staff members tried to extinguish the fire with an extinguisher while the manager informed the emergency services and evacuated the hotel. The swift action was praised by the brigade as it prevented the fire spreading to the roof space and preventing any injuries as a result of the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet know but an investigation into the incident is underway.

Ensure that your alarms are working and check them on a regular basis. You can request a free reminder from our reminder service.

To read the full story about this fire follow this link

Stay safe this Chinese New Year!

The Chinese New Year begins on February 3, 2011 and this year it is the year of the rabbit. For many Chinese this is a time to celebrate the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. With it comes the opportunity to meet and gather with family members for meals and to forget any past problems that they may have had with each other.

The Chinese traditionally wear red, the colour that symbolises fire, and have firework displays. The fireworks and red garments are believed to ward off evil. Candles may also be lit at this special time and the highlight of the celebration is the lantern parade on the fifteenth day. There is also a Dragon dance that usually takes place at the weekend. This is a spectacular display of dragons dancing through the streets accompanied by firecrackers.

When candles and fireworks are being used as well as lanterns with traditional candles with naked flames there is an element of fire risk. Ensure that you have adequate fire safety equipment and a burns kit at hand for any eventuality.

Safelincs would like to take this opportunity to wish all celebrating the Chinese New Year good health and happiness in the year of the rabbit.

Blaze in top soap increases arson awareness

As a result of the blaze that saw two people die and a number of buildings damaged in the episode of Emmerdale, shown on January 13, West Yorkshire firefighters were urging the general public to be aware of how to prevent arson.

The village where Emmerdale is filmed is located in West Yorkshire. The episode saw a pile of rubbish being set alight by an arsonist. The fire then got out of hand and resulted in it spreading to cottages situated close by.

The fire brigades are urging people to ensure that wheelie bins are located as far away from the building as possible, not over-filled and that piles of rubbish are not left where they could be used as a source of fuel for arsonists.

We would also recommend anti-arson letter boxes which prevent arsonists setting fire through letterboxes.

Read the full story

Carbon monoxide poisoning, how to diagnose this silent killer

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to that of a general cold or flu and as a result can not only be overlooked by the sufferer but can also result in a misdiagnosis by your GP.

The main symptoms suffered are headaches, nausea and vomiting, vertigo type symptoms, an alteration in consciousness and lethargy. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increase as the cold weather begins and fires and heating systems are put back into service after the summer.

There is one very significant factor to consider if you have any of the symptoms above but are unsure if it is a cold, flu or indeed due to carbon monoxide being present. The symptoms from carbon monoxide can subside and even disappear when you are not in the area where the carbon monoxide is present. You may notice that when you go out to the shops or to work that your symptoms are much better but shortly after returning home the symptoms increase again. Cold and flu symptoms usually last no longer than a week; if your symptoms continue after this period consider the possibility that it could be as a result of carbon monoxide.

If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to carbon monoxide, act swiftly. Alert your doctor of your suspicions, contact either your gas supplier if you have gas appliances or alternatively contact your local council who can advise you who you need to call. Carbon monoxide can be produced by the incomplete combustion of all fossil fuel, gas, oil, coal, coke and wood. Carbon monoxide alarms are also available which will alert you should the levels of carbon monoxide rise above acceptable levels.

Tragic death of young woman by suspected carbon monoxide poisoning

A young woman, Miriam Reidy, 35, died on Sunday, 16 January 2011 due to carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel in Co Cork.

Ms Reidy was sharing a bedroom at the Trident hotel with her sister after celebrating the Hen weekend of her cousin. Their room was situated above the boiler room of the hotel.

Ms Reidy sought medical assistance in the early hours of the morning as she felt unwell and also sent a text to a cousin, who had also been at the celebrations, to ask if any one else felt ill. She went back to bed after seeing a doctor, and was discovered dead in her room several hours later. Her sister was found unconscious in the same room.

It is suspected that the tradegy is the result of a build-up of carbon monoxide gas. Safety inspections at the hotel will now take place and until this has been completed the Trident Hotel will remain closed.

Our condolences are with the family of Ms Reidy.

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Figures reinforce calls for more smoke alarms

Six out of ten people who died in fires in 2009 had no smoke alarm fitted in their home, according to figures released by London Fire Brigade. 26 people died in fires where there was no working smoke alarm. The statistics also show that over half of the people who were injured by fires in the home in 2009 didn’t have this simple life saving device either.

Smoke alarms cost as little as £7.19 yet it is estimated that over 300,000 homes in the capital still do not have one. In contrast, Mintel’s British lifestyle survey reveals that people are spending £36 million a day on personal care.

Particularly tragic are instances where deaths have occurred in residences where smoke alarms had been installed but where either the batteries had been removed to power other devices or they had been allowed to go flat.

Safelincs supports the national Fire Kills campaign to encourage people to regularly test the batteries of their smoke alarms. It also provides a free smoke alarm reminder service which will notify you if your smoke alarms will need testing or replacing.

Why should smoke alarms be replaced after ten years?

In 1992, Approved Document B of the Building Regulations were updated to require new and significantly refurbished properties have at least one smoke alarm installed and working in the home. In July 2000, the Document was further amended and required every new build or refurbished property to have mains-wired, interconnected smoke alarms to be installed. With many alarms installed under these Regulations still in use and potentially being several decades old, it was necessary to research a recommendation as to when mains powered smoke alarms should be replaced.

Current recommendations

  1. The majority of research found on this subject emanates from the US. The US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have issued NFPA Standard 72, National Fire Alarm and Signalling Code (2010 edition), which states:
    1. “Replace all smoke alarms, including those that use ten-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly when tested.”
  2. US fire safety websites, along with those in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, tend to recommend the replacement of domestic smoke alarms, whether battery or mains-wired, when they:
    • Fail to respond to tests
    • Are ten years old (varying between date of installation and manufacture)

Why Replace Alarms?

Several reasons are provided to justify the replacement of smoke alarms after ten years.

  1. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety cite a nationwide study undertaken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which states that 97% of smoke alarms should still be functioning after one year, if supplied with power. After ten years it is 73%, whereas after 20 years, this figure stands at 54%. The study also indicated that 60% of the failures were due to flat or removed batteries or a disconnected power supply and the study offered possible reasons for this. Ageing alarms may experience sensitivity drifting, which may, in turn, result in an increased frequency of accidental activation and an increase in people removing the power supply It was thought that newer alarms with a ‘hush’ feature may contribute to remedying this
  2. An NFPA report cites a study undertaken by Canada’s Ontario Housing Corporation supporting the fact that 3% of smoke alarms will fail within one year. They also say that after 30 years, nearly all the alarms will have failed. They conclude that replacement after ten years, with roughly a 30% probability of failure, is an appropriate balance between safety and cost
  3. The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service state that smoke alarm technology has improved significantly since legislation was introduced (similar requirements to the 1992 UK ones were introduced in Australia in 1995) and replacing old smoke alarms is an ideal opportunity to upgrade smoke alarm systems. The Australian Standard for smoke alarms (AS 3786) specifies an effective life of 10 years, suggesting that after that time effectiveness may be compromised with accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants and corrosion of electrical circuitry
  4. In the early 1990s, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission undertook an extensive study, called the National Smoke Detector Project, to examine smoke alarm ownership and operability. Some failures were found in smoke alarms, but there were no large or systematic problems identified with detector designs or manufacturing practices that cast any doubt on their long term reliability. However, a variety of component failures, corroded battery clips and deterioration and corrosion of the horn element contacts were found in a few smoke alarms
  5. Other reports from New Zealand and Canada looked at operability of battery smoke alarms, but no further reports on the operability and longevity of mains-wired smoke alarms could be found

Testing Smoke Alarms

  1. It should be noted that the regular testing of smoke alarms should help identify inoperable devices as testing a smoke alarm simulates smoke and does not simply test the power supply. This would indicate smoke alarm maintenance messages remain a priority. However, it was queried whether all smoke alarm test functions operate in this way, or whether some simply do test power supply, be it battery or mains-wired
  2. The general view from UK based smoke alarm manufacturers reflects the findings elsewhere. With contaminants such as dust, insects, grease and nicotine, the smoke alarm chamber is susceptible to becoming excessively sensitive or insensitive. This may lead to either an increase in nuisance false alarms, or to eventually becoming unable to detect smoke. One manufacturer reports that contamination is extremely variable, but that field experience indicated that 10 years is a reasonable compromise


  1. Evidence of smoke alarm longevity appears to be scarce and inconclusive. As with other electronic items, there will be failures in the units when they are produced and failures during their lifetime due to individual component faults. Similarly, as they get older more faults are likely to occur. Problems specific to smoke detectors include increased sensitivity
  2. In all the work identified so far, none has specifically concentrated on the failure of smoke alarms when they age. Smoke alarms do fail but the rate at which they do has not been accurately determined or related to their age.
  3. Despite there not being much research, it does seem appropriate to replace smoke alarms after ten years (in line with manufacturers advice), unless individual alarm testing suggests earlier replacement.

Mains-wired interconnected alarms – Replacement kits

  1. Safelincs has developed products designed to help facilitate the process of replacing the smoke detector heads for mains-wired interconnected smoke alarms