Retrofitting or Replacing Fire Door Seals

Following a fire risk assessment, doors are sometimes re-designated as fire doors if the door and frame are substantial enough to be justifiably counted as a nominal fire door. The same applies to older fire doors which do not follow the latest specifications. In these cases, fire door seals are retrofitted, and to avoid having to cut a rebate in either the door or the frame, surface mounted fire door seals can be fitted. These are stuck to the frame or door with their self-adhesive backing and sometimes nailed as well to give them increased longevity.

Where a fire door rebate already exists, or the existing rebated fire door seal has been damaged, rebated intumescent fire door seals can be fitted.

We offer a range of fire door seals: fire only, or combined fire and smoke. Both variants contain intumescent material that swells if a fire breaks out to seal the gap around the fire door. Seals that cover smoke also contain a brush-type smoke seal to stop smoke travelling through the gap before the intumescent material expands. There are some applications where a gap should not have smoke seals: e.g. if the fire door has been installed on the exit of a room which has no smoke detectors on its own. In this case, the fire alarm system can only be triggered if smoke can leak out around the fire door and set off the fire alarm system in the circulation spaces, but these cases are quite rare.

Fire door seals are fitted on three sides of a fire door with the gap underneath the door not being covered, though there are products available to prevent smoke from escaping under doors if necessary.

If new fire door seals are fitted for the first time, make sure that fire door hinges, fire door closers and, where necessary, intumescent door lock protection are fitted as well.

CO Alarm for Caravans and Motorhomes

Prepare for the summer season by installing a CO alarm for caravans. Because caravans are a confined space, the potential for the build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas is greater. If you have already fitted a CO detector, ensure that you carry out your pre-holiday safety checks. This should include checking or replacing the batteries and testing smoke, heat and CO alarms. It is also advisable to check when your alarms need replacing. Sensors in these types of alarms become less effective over time and will need to be replaced after 10 years.

Kidde 7DCO for caravans and motorhomes
The Kidde 7DCO CO Alarm for caravans and motorhomes

Choosing a CO alarm for caravans and motorhomes

Not all carbon monoxide alarms are suitable for use in caravans or motorhomes. Choosing a suitable alarm is important because if the CO alarm you have isn’t recommended for use in camping environments, you may not be alerted to dangerous levels of CO gas. Choose an alarm that is:

  • Kitemarked to British Standard BS EN50291-2
  • Certified for use in caravans
  • Suitable for wall mounting
  • Battery operated
  • CE marked

Kidde 7DCO

The Kidde 7DCO is ideal for caravans. It can be easily wall mounted using the fixings included in the pack. The digital display shows readings taken every 15 seconds and will indicate any changes to the level of CO gas detected. The alarm is supplied with 3 x AA batteries that are easy to replace when the warning chirp indicates that the power is low.

The Kidde 7DCO is certified for use in caravans and has a warranty for the full 10 year lifespan of the product.

Caravan fire extinguisher and CO alarm
Kidde 7DCO can be easily wall mounted in your caravan or motorhome
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm - 7DCO / 7DCOC
  • FREE delivery
  • Product Life: 10 years
  • Battery: replaceable AA alkaline batteries included
  • Warranty: 10 year warranty
  • Displays CO levels from 10ppm
  • Peak Level Memory - recalls highest CO levels
  • Ideal for domestic use and camping, caravans & boats
  • Kitemarked to BS EN50291-1 and BS EN50291-2
  • Also suitable for the 2022 Welsh legislation
£17.87 ex VAT
£21.44 inc VAT
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See all carbon monoxide alarms suitable for caravans

Discover more caravan safety tips

CO or CO2 ?

A common source of confusion can be the difference between Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Both gases are colourless, tasteless and invisible, but the similarity ends there. We have put together the following guide to help you recognise the differences.

Key Characteristics:

CO–     Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. CO can be produced by boilers, open fires and vehicles and is very toxic even at low levels. Detection of any level of CO warrants concern and the source should be identified as soon as possible.

In a residential setting Carbon Monoxide is the most pressing concern because levels as low 50ppm will harm you and just 700ppm (parts per million) can be life threatening. Initial symptoms of poisoning include headaches, nausea and breathlessness. The only way to detect CO is by installing a Carbon Monoxide Alarm.

CO2–   Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide can be produced in a variety of natural ways. CO2 is a natural by-product of combustion and we all exhale it every day. It even has uses as diverse as giving drinks their fizz and extinguishing fires. Carbon Dioxide is not harmful in itself but an excess of CO2 (above 3%) in an enclosed environment can lead to asphyxiation by reducing the level of oxygen available.

Carbon Dioxide detectors are usually used in commercial premises for example breweries or laboratories. Whilst CO2 poisoning is something to be aware of it is unlikely to happen in a home environment.

As you can see, although their names are similar, the dangers posed by each gas are very different. It is important to be aware of the characteristics of each as they can both be harmful. The only way to be sure of staying safe is to make sure you have the appropriate detector fitted wherever you are.

What to do with old smoke alarms?

Customers ask us occasionally about the recycling of smoke alarms. Here is some information relating to this.

Smoke and heat alarms fall under the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations. The biggest burden, with regards to the recycling of these goods, falls on businesses manufacturing, rebranding or importing alarms or any other electrical equipment. Retailers like us have to follow a reduced set of regulations.

Retailers have to pay a fee to be allowed to recommend  their domestic customers to drop their old smoke and heat alarms off at local recycling centers (Distributor Take-Back Scheme) rather than returning them to Safelincs for passing on to the manufacturers. As the directive states that the customer should in this case dispose of the old alarm themselves at the recycling centers we could in theory refuse to accept old smoke alarms back from domestic customers. However, we allow customers to send us their old units as a courtesy when they purchase from us.

Ideally, as stated above, domestic customers should drop their old alarms off at their local recycling centers, however, they can also dispose small numbers of alarms in their normal refuse. Quite often customers are concerned that the crossed-out wheelie bin on the back of the alarm means that they must not place the unit in a normal waste bin. This is a mis-understanding, the crossed-out wheelie bin just means that this product falls under the WEEE regulations and ideally should be recycled. Nevertheless, small numbers of smoke alarms are permitted in the household waste. There is currently no differentiation in this respect between the  ionisation and other smoke alarms despite the ionisation alarms containing small amounts of radio-activity.

There are WEEE rules that differ for domestic customers and businesses. Business smoke alarm users can drop small numbers of old alarms off at the recycling centre, where the cost for recycling will be passed on to the manufacturers. Business customers can also pass the smoke alarms on to us. We then pass them on to the manufacturers. This is only the case if they buy new smoke alarms from us at the same time or if they bought the units from us in the first place (there are some detailed rules relating to this regulation, which have been left out for simplicity).

Hot discussions about extinguishers removed in HMOs

Occasionally, a heated discussion flares up when a housing association or landlord removes extinguishers from a HMO or from flats with the argument that the extinguishers would do more harm than good in the hands of untrained tenants. Their decision is based on the fear that people might risk their lives fighting a fire rather than leaving the building and that the tenants might injure themselves by incorrect use of an extinguisher. Fear of vandalism and the difficulty of maintaining and assuring the working order of the extinguishers between the yearly services is of course also a consideration.

The latest case was in Richmond:

‘Residents in Richmond have been told that portable fire extinguishers have been removed from the common parts of their housing blocks for their own safety, following the findings of a fire risk assessment.’ (info4fire 16/11/2011)

However, this case was not unique, already in 2008 a similar occurance happened in Bournemouth:

‘An independent fire risk assessment ruled the extinguishers were a hazard to untrained users and may encourage people to fight a blaze. People in flats at Avon House in West Cliff Road, Bournemouth, received letters asking to remove the equipment.’ (BBC 11/03/2008)

In both cases the recommendation was based on fire risk assessments carried out by external fire risk assessors.

The reaction by the fire safety industry and the general public was instant and sometimes fierce. Typical reactions were:

‘Surely the sensible option would be to inform residents about the practical use of handling a fire extinguisher, rather than removing them altogether’ (IFEDA Nov 2011)

‘Now burn to death in safety. Here’s another couple of examples of elf’n’safety idiocy.’ (Daily Mail Nov 2011)

What is the legal situation?

It is right and correct that Fire Risk Assessments, either carried out by the landlords or by external specialist companies, work out what the risks are in a building and what protection is appropriate for the building and its occupants; and the fire risk assessor must balance the building’s construction, its inhabitants and other factors when deciding how to achieve fire safety for the tenants. The fire risk assessment can lead to certain fire protection measures to be reduced if on the other hand other fire protection measures are strengthened, eg the type of fire alarm system might be downgraded if a sprinkler system is installed etc. However, there are guidelines which, while fairly loose, describe general recommendations which must be taken into consideration. The fire risk assessment guides created for the different type of businesses/buildings help assessors and owners to come to a reasonable conclusion.

For landlords the fire risk assessment guide ‘sleeping accomodation’ is relevant. The guide states that in cases where the main risk stems from fires involving wood, paper and textiles (not kitchen areas):

‘Typically (..) the provision of one water-based extinguisher for approximately every 200 suare meters of floor space, with a minimum of two extinguishers per floor, will normally be adequate. (..) ideally no one should have to travel more than 30m to reach a fire extinguisher.’

For landlords and HMOs specifically, there is also a useful fire safety guide from LACoRS, which brings together the main rules regarding fire safety in HMOs and let properties into one easy-to-understand guide.

This guide states on page 28:

‘The provision of fire blankets and simple fire extinguishers can be useful in restricting the development and spread of small fires in their early stages. However, unless a fire is very small, the best advice is to evacuate the building (..) This is because for larger fires people need training to know what type of  fire extinguisher can safely be used on, how to tackle a fire safely, and when to give up and get out. The installation of extinguishers can also lead to problems if they are not properly maintained or where equipment is discharged through malice or horseplay. For these reasons extinguishers are not recommended inside units of accomodation unless there are resident staff who are trained in their use (a caretaker, housekeeper, warden or similar)’

Although this sounds as if LACoRS is advising against installation of extinguishers, it carries on in the next paragraph:

‘In order to provide a facility for extinguishing small fires in their early stages, a simple multi-purpose extinguisher is recommended on each floor in the common parts of HMOs and buildings containing flats. It will not usually be practical to train tenants in the use of them, but basic advice should be offered at the start of each new tenancy.’

This positive confirmation of the need for extinguishers was later on re-emphasised in an update to the LACoRS guide in December 2008:

‘The positioning of portable fire extinguishers in the communal areas is deemed appropriate in order to help occupiers deal with small scale fires in their early stages and to aid their escape from the building.’

This time the guide clearly accepts the use of extinguishers by occupiers rather than just resident staff!

The LACoRS guide is unclear about the type of extinguisher to be installed. From our own experience, however, we would advise against powder extinguishers in communal areas, although powder extinguishers are of course the most general extinguisher commercially available. Water (with additives to avoid self-electrocution) or foam extinguishers are more suitable, as the damage in case of misuse and the risk of inhalation is substantially lower than with powder extinguishers.

Whilst there are confusing signals and guides out there, the consensus appears to be that fire extinguishers are very valuable when dealing with small fires at an early stage. As to the question ‘are they required in the communal areas to meet legislation’ there is still no clear answer. It would appear that this recommendation is subjective and the outcome is dependant from the individual assessor. The new register for fire risk assessors may influence this in the future. The register will provide those wishing to outsource their fire risk assessment to a third party with a database of qualified assessors.

Intumescent Pipe Collars – A Guide

We recently introduced a new range of  Astroflame pipe collars. As we receive many questions about the use of pipe collars we felt that a write-up about these collars might be helpful.

What are pipe collars?

Where plastic soil and water pipes pass through fire compartment walls and floors, fire could spread between these building compartments as the pipes melt. Pipe collars are used in these situations to stop the spread of fire. They are fitted around the pipe and on exposure to heat from a fire they rapidly expand inwards to squeeze the collapsing plastic pipe until the aperture is completely sealed. Astroflame pipe collars can be used on UPVC, ABS, MDPE, HDPE and PP pipes up to 225mm diameter. They are rated at 4 hours fire resistance and are tested to BS476: Part 20: 1987 and EN1366-3. They also come with NHBC Type Approval.

What are pipe collars made of?

Intumescent pipe collars are made from intumescent material (based on heat reactive graphite ) bonded to the inside of a steel sleeve. The steel sleeve is powder coated and can be opened and fitted around the pipe. They are closed with a toggle clasp.

How are pipe collars fitted?

Our collars are designed for surface mounting, with the option to fully or semi-cast into masonry floors or walls. The fixing brackets provided can be used for securing the sleeve with non-combustible screws or bolts, or to assist ‘keying-in’ if collars are for recessed installations.

For horizontal installations the collar may be surface mounted or recessed and should be located on one or both sides according to the direction of risk.

Fitting to Masonry/Block Walls

1) Attach the Astro Collar to the pipe so that the integral mounting lugs are pressed tight to the surface of the wall.

2) Mark the position of the bolt slots in the mounting lugs onto the surface of the wall with a marker pen.

3) Rotate the collar slightly (or if access is restricted remove from pipe) and drill holes at the pre-marked positions to suit the anchor bolts being used.

4) If the surface of the wall is very uneven, it is recommended to bed the collar onto a bead of Astroflame Intumescent Mastic to improve the smoke seal efficiency.

5) Insert the anchor bolts and tap home. Relocate the collar in position ensuring that the toggle clasp is snapped closed and that the bolt heads are protruding through the slots in the mounting lugs. Tighten the nuts onto the bolts.

6) NOTE Where there is a fire risk on both sides of the wall, or the direction of fire risk has not been determined, then an Astro Collar should be fitted to both sides of the wall.

7) The collar can also be semi or fully cast into the masonry wall using Astro FM Compound fire resistant mortar.

Fitting under concrete floor slabs

1) Attach the Astro collar to the pipe so that the integral mounting lugs are pressed tight to the soffit (underside) of the concrete floor.

2) Mark the position of the bolt slots in the mounting lugs onto the concrete surface with a marker pen.

3) Drill the bolt holes at the pre-marked positions to suit the anchor bolts being used, (the minimum recommended size of non-combustible anchor bolt is 6mm dia. x 25mm long).

4) If the soffit (underside) of the concrete is very uneven, it is recommended to bed the collar onto a bead of Astroflame Intumescent Mastic to improve the smoke seal efficiency.

5) Insert the anchor bolts and tap home. Relocate the collar in position ensuring that the toggle clasp is snapped closed and that the bolt heads are protruding through the slots in the mounting lugs. Tighten the nuts onto the bolts.

6) The collar can also be semi or fully cast into the soffit using Astro FM Compound fire resistant mortar.

Fitting to metal stud partition walls

Fit to both sides of the wall!

1) Attach the Astro Collar to the pipe so that the integral mounting lugs are pressed tight to the surface of the partition wall.

2) Mark the position of the bolt slots in the mounting lugs onto the surface of the wall with a marker pen.

3) Rotate the collar slightly (or if access is restricted remove from pipe) and drill holes at the pre-marked positions to suit the fixings used.

4) If the surface of the wall is very uneven, it is recommended to bed the collar onto a bead of Astroflame Intumescent Mastic to improve the smoke seal efficiency.

5) Insert the non-combustible fixings. Relocate the collar in position ensuring that the toggle clasp is snapped closed and that the bolt heads are protruding through the slots in the mounting lugs. Tighten the nuts onto the fixings.

Should you have further queries you can contact us and we are happy to help.

Camping deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning

During July and August this year there have been several deaths reported due to carbon monoxide poisoning in tents. One particular tragic death was that of  a 35 year old woman, who was found dead next to her children aged seven and four and her husband. The children and husband were taken to hospital where they were later released, but it was said that they only just escaped with their lives. It is believed that the CO poisoning was due to carbon monoxide fumes entering the tent as a result of the barbecue being moved to the tent entrance to provide some warmth  for the family.

These devastating incidents could be avoided if the dangers of carbon monoxide were more widely known.

This summer the temperatures have not been very high and many campers are finding themselves unusually cold at night in their tents.  As there are no extra blankets available, many campers have started to bring camping BBQs or gas stoves into the tent to warm it up before going to sleep. Campers have also started to bring their BBQs into their tents to continue cooking due to it starting to rain.

Bringing gas or coal fired cooking appliances inside  tents and caravans fills the space quickly with carbon monoxide gas, a byproduct when burning a fossil fuel. The gas then renders the occupants unconscious and death can occur as a result.

Under no circumstances should gas or charcoal appliances be brought in or close to a tent. The carbon monoxide gas can linger inside the tent long after the appliance has been moved away. As the gas is odorless and colourless there is no way to detect if the gas is present. The gas makes the occupant drowsy and once in this state unable to respond to other warning signs such as headaches and nausea.

To read more on these tragic deaths: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2026321/Mother-dies-camping-tragedy-Gyrn-Goch.html

http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/9156602.Warning_after_man_dies_in_gas_barbecue_tragedy/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-14051333

 

 

Reviewing domestic fire safety in the light of the recent riots

Now that the rioting seems to have come to an end it is worth considering how to be prepared for similar occurrences in the future. Most of the physical damage, excluding the massive damage to lives and communities, was caused by arson attacks and many people were put at risk by being trapped in their houses by fire.
There are a few precautions one can take to avoid being trapped by fire and to reduce the risk from arson.

Make arson attacks more difficult

It is easy for rioters to pour petrol through a letterbox and to throw a match after it. The impact is devastating. The fire races through the house and the main exit is blocked by fire. However, you can protect yourself by installing an anti-arson letterbox. These fire protection bags sit behind the letter slot and normally just catch your mail. However, they also will contain any flammable liquid poured through the letter opening and automatically extinguish any fire in the letterbox with a small automatic extinguisher or intumescent materials built into the anti-arson letterbox.

Stop your soft furnishing catching fire

You can reduce the flammability of curtains, carpets and soft furnishing in entrance areas by treating them with fire retardant spray. These sprays make fabrics less flammable and thus reduce the impact of a fire bomb thrown into a building.

Protect your most valuable documents from fire

Place your most valuable and personal items in a fireproof box. These

fireproof boxes are ideal for valuable

photos, passports, certificates etc. Special fireproof boxes for electronic data protection will protect your familiy videos and electronically stored data/photos. Some of the boxes are also water tight, which is important in case the fire brigade have to douse the flames with water and foam.

Ensure you have a second route of escape

Do you have a second escape route if the hallway is in flames? Make sure you can open upstairs windows to escape. If they do not open, keep a hammer or a dedicated  emergency escape hammer near the windows. If the fire brigade cannot easily reach an upstairs window, consider a fire escape ladder which can be hooked over a window sill in an emergency.

Don’t suffocate from the smoke

Smoke from house fires is extremely toxic. A few breaths will overwhelm you and render you unconscious. If the house is filled with smoke, crawl along the floor towards the nearest exit.  Wrap a wet cloth over your face if you have to run through smoke or fire, however, you must not breathe in the smoke due to the extreme tocicity! Consider having a fire escape hood in the house. These hoods cover your head and filter the fumes of the fire. This gives you valuable time to escape through smoke.

Make sure you can extinguish small fires yourself

During the riot the fire brigades were stretched by the number of fires. As a result their response time will not have

been as fast as usual. Make sure you can tackle small fires yourself by having buckets of water at the ready or equip yourself with fire extinguishers

Make sure you can extinguish a person on fire

Keep a non-flammable blanket or large fire blanket at the ready to wrap around a person or roll the person on the floor to extinguish the flames. Have a bucket of water placed in a suitable place or ensure that you have a water fire extinguisher.

Fire Drill

Ensure that you know how you will escape from your home if a fire blocked the main exit. If you have children talk to them in a calm manner about what to do if there is a fire. If the child is particularly clingy to one parent, get that parent to lead the way out of the building. The child will be more willing to leave the building that way.

Ensure that you have working smoke alarms fitted to alert you to a fire, and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where you burn solid fuel, such as a gas boiler, gas or open fire, gas cooker. Make sure you check that they are working on a regular basis and that they are never left without a battery in them.

For help and advice call 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk

Care home fire safety ruling

After the recent BBC investigation about London care homes not meeting fire safety regulations there has been an important court ruling that will hopefully change the behavior of care home owners and increase the safety of the residents.

The issue  regarding resident bedroom doors, which must be fitted with self closing fire doors, and the risk of these fire doors being wedged open in an illegal manner was addressed. Fire doors are generally heavy and when fitted with a self closing device very hard for an elderly person to open. In the case of care homes fitting bedroom doors with these devices will restrict the mobility and independence of residents. The fear was that care home owners will then wedge the doors open to allow residents to freely move in and out of their bedrooms. This practice is illegal and the judicial ruling now stipulates that self-closing fire doors must be fitted with a device that will hold the door open and which releases the door when a fire alarm is triggered, allowing the fire door to be closed with the door closer to prevent the spread of fire.

This is ruling is paramount in ensuring the safety of vulnerable residents. The solution to this new ruling need not result in having a new system wired into the premises but can be resolved with wireless devices such as Dorgard or Freedor. Both devices are wireless and can be fitted retrospectively to fire doors without the need of an electrician.

The Dorgard can be fitted to any door with a self closing device and will hold the door open until the fire alarm sounds. At this point the door retainer will lift the plunger and the fire door will close. The Freedor works in a similar way but it acts not only as a door holder but also as a door closer, incorporating the two devices in one. This device can hold the fire door open at any angle required and will then release and close the fire door on the sounding of the fire alarm.

Both fire door retainers have a night time closing feature and have adjustable  sensitivity. As the Dorgard and Freedor are both wireless products they can be fitted by a handy man rather than a costly electrician. The Dorgard has a 5 year warranty, which is only available from Safelincs Ltd.

For more information on fire door retainers and door holders please visit our website https://www.safelincs.co.uk/dorgard-and-other-fire-door-retainers/

More information about the judicial ruling can be found at http://www.cpbsonline.eu/pressrelease/pressrelease.aspx?companyname=Fireco&title=Court+Makes+Important+Care+Home+Fire+Safety+Ruling

New 10 Year Extinguishers without any Maintenance Costs!

We can now offer our customers a new type of fire extinguisher that will help them save hundreds of pounds!!! Safelincs have become the exclusive online retail partner for Britannia Fire, distributing their new P50 extinguisher, a 10 year guaranteed fire extinguisher that does not require servicing, hence saving substantial amounts of money year on year.

Britannia Fire, based in Norwich, is a long standing manufacturer of fire extinguishers in the UK and has been supplying the MOD, the public sector and the fire safety industry since the 1970s.

The extinguisher is durable and light, using Kevlar (usually associated with bullet-proof vests) to manufacture the extinguishers inner core. The steel cylinder of traditional fire extinguishers has been replaced with a composite polyethylene plastic shell, providing UV protection, preventing corrosion and providing substantially better durability in comparison. This plastic shell is then used to protect the Kevlar core from the elements and allows the P50 extinguisher to be confidently installed in external locations.

The extinguisher has taken 5 years to develop and has gone through the most rigorous testing to ensure that it meets and even exceeds all standards for a fire extinguisher.  The extinguishers are certified to the EN3 standard and have a ten year manufacturer’s guarantee as well as a ten year service-free life. The extinguishers durability is tested by pressurising the canisters with 25 bar pressure over 12,000 times! They then have to withstand being crushed flat by a blade before being filled again with over 55 bar without being allowed to burst. Britannia’s P50 extinguishers are made to last!

This P50 extinguisher range does not require an annual service call-out from an extinguisher engineer and refilling or replacing after five years. All that is required for these extinguishers is for the business owner or the chosen competent person to carry out the manufacturer’s simple 3 step self-maintenance check. The checks are then recorded in the fire log book and on each extinguisher.

The Britannia P50 extinguishers are also covered by a ‘free after fire replacement’ should the extinguisher ever be used to tackle a fire or get damaged in a fire Safelincs will replace the unit within 7 days free of charge.

Safelincs offers free delivery, a free site survey and free installation with the extinguishers to ensure that our customers install the extinguishers in the correct quantities and in the best locations.

This revolutionary service-free fire extinguisher is only available online from Safelincs Ltd.