Fire at National Archives highlights need for document protection

Sentry-SFW123CSB-fire-and-waterproof-safe-1A recent fire at the National Archives in Kew, home to some of the UK’s most important historical documents, was tackled by 20 firefighters. The blaze was caused by two disused water towers at the site in Richmond, South-West London.

The National Archives is the official UK government archive and publisher and holds 11 million historical documents of national importance, some dating back more than 1,000 years. Among its collection are the Domesday Book, parchments, electronic records, photographs, posters, maps and paintings.

Fortunately everyone was evacuated from the building safely and no documents were damaged although the building was closed to the public for a short period for recovery.

This type of incident focuses people’s attention on the importance of preserving key documents and items of irreplaceable value, not just for large national institutions but also for businesses and individuals. For this reason more and more people are looking at ways to preserve such items in the event of a fire.

Safelincs has a range of solutions ranging that start with fireproof document boxes for under £30 and go right up to high capacity fire safes for storing computer media and files.

And, in the light of recent floods we are increasingly being asked for safes that will provide water protection as well. We have a range of fire and waterproof safes for paper documents and digital media that start at under £200. These fireproof safes with water protection have UL certification and have passed submersion testing to ensure their suitability.

Free fire extinguishers for customer

free-replacementsSafelincs supplies Handelsbanken,  a leading Swedish Bank with over 700 branches in 24 countries, 147 branches of which are in the UK, with fire safety products such as fire extinguishers.  Purchasing fire extinguishers from Safelincs gives Handelsbanken full protection. Should the extinguishers ever be used, Safelincs will immediately replace the extinguishers. So, when on the 21st of October a CO2 fire extinguisher was used by the fire brigade in one of the Handelsbanken branches, Safelincs immediately replaced the extinguisher, free of charge.

We want our customers to use their fire fighting equipment without ever having to worry about the aftermath. This applies not only to extinguishers – all fire safety equipment bought from us used on or affected by fire is covered by our free replacement guarantee.

BS 5839-1 fire alarm system standard explained

fire-alarm-panel-kitsBS 5839 Part 1 ‘Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises‘  is the key Standard for commercial fire alarm systems with central control panels. It helps customers and installers to specify, design, install and maintain fire alarm systems.

It is a substantial document and to help our customers find their way through it we have created a summary of the Standard. The summary covers:

  • Why might I need a fire detection / fire alarm system for my premises?
  • What are fire detection and fire alarm systems?
  • What is meant by ‘category of system’?
  • What are the main design considerations for an appropriate fire detection / fire alarm system?
  • What are the main installation issues?
  • What happens once the installation is complete?
  • Commissioning, documentation, and certification
  • Maintaining the system: what is involved?
  • User’s responsibilities and premises management: who does what?

Safelincs, the UK’s most progressive and customer friendly fire safety company offers its customers nationwide maintenance of fire alarm systems as well as a range of fire alarm system components:

For quotations for a new fire alarm system, please ring our friendly customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

To arrange your fire alarm system maintenance visit, please ring 0800 612 4827.

P50 Popular at FM Show at NEC

The P50 service free extinguisher turned more than a few heads on the Safelincs stand at the recent Facilities Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

Facilities managers who attend the annual event are always looking for innovative ways to cut costs and provide better service for their clients. They didn’t take much persuading to see the benefits and potential savings offered by the P50.

P50-at-the-FM-trade-show

Traditional extinguishers require servicing each year but P50s are constructed using a composite material that will not rust or corrode. This protects the contents and no discharge testing or refills are required for ten years. The expensive annual service by an external engineer is no longer necessary– just a straightforward yearly test that can easily be carried out by an organisation’s in-house staff.

After ten years the P50s can be refilled and used for a further ten years.

Safelincs’ managing director, Harry Dewick-Eisele was at the show and had the opportunity to speak to many facilities managers. “Those with responsibility for large estates could see savings running into thousands of pounds,” he said. “A good number were going back to their offices to weigh up how quickly they could replace their existing appliances and start cutting costs.”

What To Do If Your Clothing Catches Fire

According to statistics published by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in 2012, around 80 people die each year in in the UK after their clothing catches fire.

If your own clothing catches fire you should take the following course of action:

  • STAY where you are—moving or running feeds air to the flames and worsens the fire.
  • DROP to the floor—if you stand up, the fire can burn your face. Fold your arms high on your chest to protect your face.
  • ROLL slowly on the floor or ground, in a rug or blanket if you can.
  • COOL off as soon as possible with water for first and second degree burns. *

If you are in the position of helping somebody else whose clothing has caught fire you should apply the steps above. In addition there is one type of fire extinguisher that can be recommended for such a situation. See the video.

The Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguisher is a new type of extinguisher, which works by dispersing microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials, The speed at which it takes effect, combined with the rapid cooling it induces, make it the perfect extinguisher to have to hand should a fire of this nature break out.

Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguishers are the first broad-spectrum fire extinguishers. They can be used on almost every common fire including deep fat fryer fires. They are perfect for kitchens, as they contain no harmful substances and leave no residues. The extinguisher’s supersonic nozzle disperses microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials. The 35kV dielectrical test ensures that the extinguishers can be safely used near electrical equipment.

*In a serious fire room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. This heat can melt clothes to a victim’s skin. Never peel the clothing off – leave the treatment to medical professionals.

What power consumption do emergency lights have?

When comparing power consumption of emergency lighting, and more specifically comparing LED lighting with standard lighting, it is important to understand some of the terms used and what they actually mean in this context. Sometimes you will see the power consumption documented in W (Watts) and sometimes it will be stated in VA (VoltAmperes). Whilst this looks confusing, it is comforting that both terms are actually identical. Multiplying the Voltage (V) of the electrical supply with the Amperage (A), which represents the current flowing through the light, gives you VA (VoltAmperes) which represents power consumption and is actually the same as the ‘Wattage’ (W). So VA equals W; they are just different ways of saying the same thing.

For this blog we will be comparing a CS8 maintained emergency bulkhead with an X-GSA LED maintained emergency bulkhead as they are very similar units, although they have a very different power consumption (also the CS8 produces light output of  100 lumens, whilst the X-GSA produces a slightly lower 85 lumens. This difference, though, is negligible.).

The CS8 contains an 8W T5 lamp which, as the name suggests, consumes 8 Watts. The ballast (the electronics that run the unit and the trickle charge for the backup battery) consumes 12 Watts, which means the CS8 in maintained mode consumes 20W.

The X-GSA contains 12 white LEDs which together consume 0.9W. The ballast consumes 2.6W, which means the whole unit in maintained mode consumes 3.5W.
That is a difference of 16.5W, which is huge when you consider that maintained lights are lit constantly. So, a CS8 in its maintained mode is consuming over 5 times more energy every hour than the X-GSA!

It is also important to know that LED emergency lights last substantially longer than fluorescent tubes. An LED bulb will last over 5 times longer than a traditional fluorescent light.

Generally speaking LED emergency lighting is more expensive than the traditional equivalent, but when you factor in the substantially lower power consumption and the lower maintenance needs of LED lights, they are actually more cost effective in the long term.

Which type of smoke alarm should I use?

Smoke alarms are the most essential components in any fire safety strategy, whether in commercial or domestic properties.

There is a wide range of smoke alarm models available designed to suit various circumstances. It is therefore important to ensure that you purchase the correct model for your requirements, in order to ensure your smoke alarms operate as efficiently as possible.

Below is a summary of the various smoke alarm models featured on our website:

Optical smoke alarms are suitable for general use and are especially suitable for detecting smouldering fires caused for example by smouldering soft furnishings. They are also not too sensitive to false alarms from burnt toast, making them ideal in hallways (near kitchens), living rooms and bedrooms.

Ionisation smoke alarms are able to detect the change in the behaviour of the air in case of a fire. Fast flaming fires, such as burning waste paper baskets, are easily detected by ionisation smoke alarms and we recommend ionisation smoke alarms for use in offices or on landings. Please note that ionisation smoke alarms contain a small amount of radio-activity. If you wish to avoid this, choose optical smoke alarms instead.

Heat alarms are designed to detect the increase of temperature caused by a fire and do not cause false alarms. They are especially useful in dusty or smoky areas, such as kitchen and garages. They do, however, not cover very large areas, so cannot really be used for larger parts of a building.

Multi-sensor alarms combine the features of optical and heat alarms, resulting in rapid fire detection and a reduced risk of false alarms. They are suitable for living rooms, bedrooms, hallways and landings but should not be used in kitchens.

If you require further advice on which smoke alarm design is suitable for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We also publish a guide on the different smoke alarm technologies.

For warehouse areas and industrial properties we offer more fire detection technologies and central alarm panle systems.

How to protect a kitchen with heat detectors

Kitchens produce great amounts of steam and cooking smoke and ordinary smoke alarms are not able to cope with these confusing signals. An ionisation smoke alarm or even an optical smoke alarm would quickly be set off when a kitchen is being used. At the same time fires regularly start in the kitchen, so rapid fire detection is important.

Luckily, there is an easy solution available. Heat alarms or heat detectors work by detecting either rapidly rising temperatures or trigger when a certain temperature is reached. Heat detectors do not get set off by steam or smoke or the normal cooking tempreatures. The thermistor in the heat detector head only detects the temperature changes mentioned above and ignores all other influences.

To notify the rest of the house of a fire in the kitchen you do not need to rely solely on the siren in the heat detector. You can interconnect the heat detectors with other smoke alarms in the house either with wire or through radio-frequency. The latter avoids you having to lay cables between alarms.

Heat detectors are also installed in garages and other areas where smoke or gases are present (with exception of bathrooms).

More information about the workings of heat detectors and other smoke alarms can be found in our smoke alarm guide.

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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