Reasonable Adjustments in Schools

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 in schools? 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

According to current fire safety regulations, it is the duty of the Responsible Person for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that considers the needs of all of its users. It should contain an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be on the educational premises. This includes anyone who is disabled or has additional needs. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) also supports these regulations.

Evacuation chairs are a reasonable adjustment
An EVAC+CHAIR can be used to safely evacuate anyone with a permanent or temporary mobility impairment in an emergency

The reasonable adjustments in schools need to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety, and depends 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.

fire doors in education
Fire door retainers can improve access for anyone with a mobility impairment

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.

Fire door retainers can be a reasonable adjustment
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers are widely used in education

The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.

“The Dorgard offers a low energy automatic door solution that proved to be the most cost-effective way of improving access and independence for wheelchair users.”

University of London’s College Hall

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Everything you need to know about cooking oil fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking equipment is the leading cause of house fires, with unattended cooking being the primary culprit. Cooking oil fires, in particular, pose a unique challenge due to the intensity and rapid spread of the flames.

Cooking oil fires are difficult to extinguish if you don’t have the right equipment at hand. The powerful jet of some fire extinguishers could spread the oil fire. Using water to extinguisher oil fires can cause the fire to erupt violently. Therefore, it is important to have the correct equipment to tackle kitchen fires

Tackling Cooking Oil Fires at Home

How to put out a Cooking Oil Fire

Pan fires can be tackled with fire blankets and fire extinguishers. A water mist fire extinguisher is versatile, and therefore can tackle all types of kitchen fire including fires involving electrical equipment up to 1000 volts. A fire blanket is a good option for most domestic kitchens, as generally smaller amounts of oil are used. A fire blanket is placed over the pan fire to smother it and starve the fire from oxygen.

For larger deep fat fryers in your home, we would recommend a wet chemical fire extinguisher which holds a 25F rating. The wet chemical extinguisher is made specifically for tackling larger quantities of oil on fire.

Where to put a Kitchen Fire Extinguisher

In the case of cooking oil fires, having a fire extinguisher within easy reach can be a lifesaver. Mount the extinguisher in a visible and easily accessible location, away from the stove but still within close proximity to the cooking area. We recommend placing your fire extinguisher near the kitchen exit, ensuring a quick and unobstructed path to safety. Avoid placing it too close to potential fire hazards, such as curtains or wooden cabinets.

Tackling Cooking Oil Fires at Work

If you work in a commercial kitchen with deep fat fryers, a wet chemical kitchen fire extinguisher is usually recommended. Wet chemical fire extinguishers are specifically designed to put out cooking oil fires and therefore should be kept in kitchens for commercial use. The wet chemical fire extinguisher forms a foam blanket on top of the oil which stops the supply of oxygen, therefore extinguishing the fire. Fire blankets are also a useful addition in a commercial kitchen as they can be used on pan fires, cooking oil fires, waste basket fires and also clothing fires.

What to do in a Kitchen Fire

  • Stay calm
  • Turn off the heat source (if possible)
  • If the fire is not too big, use your fire extinguisher or fire blanket to try and extinguish the fire 
  • Call emergency services
  • Move anything else that could catch fire away from the burning oil if you can
  • Make sure children and pets do not come near the fire
A man cooking starts a cooking fire.

How can Cooking Oil Fires be Prevented?

To avoid cooking oil fires, never leave cooking unattended and pay attention to cooking pans and deep fat fryers at all times, especially when cooking with oil. Keep the area clean from grease buildup, as accumulated grease can be a potential fuel source for fires. In the event of a small grease fire, never use water to extinguish it. Instead, cover the pan with a fire blanket or use a fire extinguisher for kitchen fires. By adopting these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of cooking oil fires and enhance the overall safety of your kitchen.

For further advice on fire prevention in your home, complete the Home Fire Safety Check. Get personalised tips and a fire safety action plan to help you and your family to stay safe.

Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Gas?

Will a Carbon Monoxide alarm detect gas leaks? Carbon Monoxide detectors will only be activated by the presence of carbon monoxide gas (CO), which is the result of incomplete combustion. CO can be released by faulty fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, boilers, and fire places. Carbon monoxide detectors will not detect gas leaks involving the natural gas (NG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) which fuel household appliances, such as boilers.

Faulty gas boilers can release CO, while gas leaks are caused by damaged pipes
A carbon monoxide alarm will not detect gas leaks

Why has my CO alarm not gone off during a gas leak?

An odorant is added to LPG and NG gas supplied to homes, because the gases are highly flammable and explosive. The unpleasant, sulphur-like smell is designed to alert occupiers to any leaks. Many people worry that there is a problem with their CO detectors when, even though they can smell gas, their CO alarm has not gone off.

However, in these scenarios, the CO alarm is not faulty. The detectors in these devices are only triggered by carbon monoxide, which is released by faulty fuel burning appliances. Carbon monoxide is colourless and has no smell, and therefore cannot be detected by humans, unlike a gas leak. Ensure your CO alarm is in good working order by pressing the ‘test’ button regularly. You should also check that the alarm is still ‘in date’ (CO alarms usually need replacing between 7 and 10 years after installation).

Carbon Monoxide alarm will not detect gas leaks
A digital CO alarm will display current CO levels at all times

How can I protect my family from carbon monoxide gas?

Carbon Monoxide has no colour, smell, or taste, but can kill within minutes of exposure. CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion within faulty gas burning appliances, so there is no way to add an odorant to this deadly gas. The only way to detect Carbon Monoxide is with a CO detector. To protect your family from CO poisoning:

For more information about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, and what to do if you are being exposed, read ‘Do I need a Carbon Monoxide alarm?’.

A carbon monoxide alarm can’t detect gas leaks, so how can a gas leak be detected?

Gas leaks can be incredibly dangerous, due to the explosive and flammable nature of component gases. While the strong smell added to these gases is designed to alert occupiers of the leak, this is unlikely to wake you if you are asleep. If you wish to protect your family against leaks of unburned gases, install a specialist gas detector in your home.

What to do if there is a gas leak in your home

If you smell gas in your home, it is likely that there is a gas leak. This could be in your home, or a neighbouring property. Open all windows and doors to dilute the concentrations of gas in the property. Do not light cigarettes or matches, or turn on any electrical devices. If possible, turn off the gas meter to stop more gas from entering, and alert neighbours to do the same until the source of the leak has been professionally identified.

Evacuate the property, and once outside the property, call your local GDN’s emergency number (Gas Distribution Network) as soon as possible.

Top Tips for Fire Safety this Chinese New Year!

Follow our fire safety top tips for Chinese New Year: candles and fireworks are often used to celebrate Chinese New Year, as well as lanterns with naked flames. There is, therefore, an element of fire risk in these festivities – stocking up on fire safety products such as burns kits, fire blankets and extinguishers should be part of any event preparation.

Children celebrating Chinese New Year
Two children celebrating Chinese New Year

In 2024, The Chinese New Year will begin on February 10th and will be the year of the Dragon. This sixteen day long traditional Chinese holiday is recognised worldwide by many people across Asia, and increasingly in the Western world, along with festivals and celebrations to mark the Lunar New Year.

Following our top tips for celebrating will ensure that everyone can enjoy this tradition safely.

Fire Safety Top Tips for Chinese New Year

Whether organising a large event with fireworks and flames, or a small home gathering with sparklers and candles, Chinese New Year celebrations come with a fire risk. We have put together top tips for fire safety to help you make your event a safe and happy occasion.

1. Before your event you will need to carry out a fire risk assessment. This free assessment form will help you identify your fire risks and document your actions to reduce these risks. As the organiser of a public event, you have a legal duty to complete a fire risk assessment.

Fire safety top tips: invest in a site stand for Chinese New Year celebration events
Events marking Chinese New Year should have a suitable site stand

2. Consider how you will raise the alarm in the event of a fire. If you celebrate at home, do you have heat and smoke alarms fitted? When planning a public event, consider using site alarms or a rotary bell and having site stands with all your fire safety and first aid equipment at strategic places.

3. Prepare for any activities involving flames with adequate supplies of fire safety equipment. We recommend having fire blankets, water mist fire extinguishers, and a burns kit on hand for any eventuality. Our water mist fire extinguishers are non-toxic. This makes them particularly suitable for events with large numbers of spectators, or where children and animals may be present. Water mist extinguishers are environmentally friendly and leave no residue when discharged.

4. Even for an outdoor event like Chinese New Year, pathways should be kept clear of debris to ensure that people can move to a place of safety in a fire. Where crowds are expected, fire assembly points and exit routes should be clearly signposted.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Safelincs would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone celebrating the Chinese New Year good health and happiness.

Fire safety top tip: ensure your burn kit is in date and on hand at any events involving flames
Have a Burn Kit on Hand at any Chinese New Year Celebration

Fire safety tips for student accommodation

Off to university and renting student halls or a shared home? Did you know that someone living in rented or shared accommodation is 7 times more likely to have a fire? If this is your first time living in rented accommodation, read our top 5 fire safety tips for students to keep yourself and your housemates safe.

student fire safety in the kitchen
Over half of all accidental house fires happen in the kitchen

Our Top 5 Fire Safety Tips for Students

  1. Read our guide on what to look out for when renting a home so you can be sure that your landlord or housing provider is doing their bit to protect you in the event of a fire.
  2. Test your smoke alarms regularly and replace the batteries straight away if there is a low battery warning. If your smoke alarm is beeping and you can’t solve the problem, notify your landlord.
  3. Take care when cooking! Over half of all accidental fires at home happen in the kitchen. Keep loose clothing, tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob. Make sure your oven and hob are cleaned regularly to avoid grease and oil building up and always check you have turned off appliances after using them. If you are frying food, take care not to let oil get too hot – if the oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down as it could burst into flames. Always keep an eye on your cooking – don’t be distracted by devices or by others. Set a timer so that you don’t forget to check the food regularly. It’s best to avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol as it is more likely that you will have an accident.
  4. Avoid burning candles or incense inside the house as they are at risk of starting a fire if knocked over or could set fire to a curtain or other fabric nearby. To make your new room cosy use battery operated candles and reed defuses as a safer alternative. Smoking inside the house could also start a fire accidentally.
  5. Electrical devices, cables and plug sockets can cause a fire! If your charging cable is cracked, severely twisted or has exposed wires, don’t use it, it could cause a fire. Buy a replacement from a well-known manufacturer. Don’t charge your phone or laptop on your bed or any other surface that could catch fire, instead opt for a work surface or table. Turn off electrical chargers, devices or appliances before bed or when leaving the house. Mobile phones that are charged on beds and under pillows get easily overheated and can start a fire.

    Did you know, sockets and plug boards have a limit on how many items can be plugged into them? Plugging too many plugs into a socket or extension cable could overload it and cause a fire. You can use this socket calculator to check whether your extension leads and adaptors are overloaded.

If you are worried about fire safety in your home, why not take our online home fire safety check? Answer questions about your student accommodation and you’ll be provided with advice about the best way to prevent a fire.

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

10 Things You Should Know About Fire Doors

Your Fire Door Questions Answered

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.

Fire doors stop fire and smoke from spreading to other parts of the building

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.

Key facts about fire doors

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.

fire door certification labelfire door cross section detail

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.

Fire doors in schools

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.

fire door in flat or house

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.

Fire door finishesFire door wood veneer

9. Can fire doors be left open?

Fire doors can only be left open if they are held open in a legal way, such as with a fire door retainer or a hold open free-swing door closer.

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.

Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
  • Hold fire doors open legally
  • Wire-free plunger based door holder
  • Certified to BS EN 1155:1997 & BS EN 1634
  • Acoustically triggered at 65dB
  • FREE extended 5 year warranty
  • FREE shipping
£87.29 ex VAT
£104.75 inc VAT
Buy Now

10. Who can fit fire doors?

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.

Fire Door Installation
Fire Door Installation

For any fire doors purchased from Safelincs, we can offer a certified installation service carried out be qualified fire door installers. Fire doors should be installed correctly to ensure proper compartmentation.

  • Nationwide service carried out by certified fire door installers
  • Installation for all fire door sets & hardware purchased from Safelincs
  • Complete fire door and frame installation available
  • Experienced and knowledgeable installers
£719.79 ex VAT
£863.75 inc VAT
Buy Now

Ask a Question

Still have fire door questions? Ask an expert on our forum.

Mel Saunders

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Lighting the Way – Emergency Lighting Requirements

What you need to know about emergency lighting

Why is emergency lighting necessary?

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.

Eden Bulkhead Emergency Lighting
LED Emergency Lighting Bulkhead – Eden

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.

Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs
Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs

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.

Buy emergency lights

Visit our emergency lights and signs section to view our full range of emergency lighting products.

Testing and maintenance

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.

Free reminder service

Sign up to our free reminder service to receive text or email reminders to regularly test your emergency lighting.

More information

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Director

Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.

What are deed boxes

We all own documents that we either cannot afford to lose, such as passports, marriage certificates, insurance documents and bank documents or that we just cannot bear to lose because of their sentimental value to us, such as important personal letters. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to lose one of these items will be well aware of the inconvenience, chaos and upset this can cause.

You would not dream of exposing your valuables to theft by leaving them unattended on a window ledge. By the same logic, surely you would not willingly leave your most important documents exposed to fire or water damage either, would you?

Having read this far, you might already have begun creating a mental shortlist of the items you would choose to protect. Now imagine losing them all – at the same time. It is a scary prospect, or at least it would be were there not such a simple and cost effective means of avoiding this potential nightmare: deed boxes.

Deed boxes are designed to take valuable documents and protect them against fire damage and water ingress. Interestingly, the name ‘deed box’ persists despite the deeds of a house, the most important deeds most of us will come across in our lives, are these days usually stored by our solicitors on our behalf.

Safelincs offers a specifically designed Fire and Waterproof Deed Box which protects documents as the ones mentioned above. Suitable for A4 documents and with an internal cubic capacity of 5.4 litres, there is even ample space to store multiple CDs, DVDs or USB devices alongside your paperwork should you wish to. This protects your digital information from fire and water damage as well.
Fire and Waterproof Deed Box

 

This deed box offers all of the standard features experts agree you should look for when choosing a quality box. It can be secured by a key lock (two keys supplied) and is UL certified to protect your valuables from fire for a minimum of 30 minutes. It also protects its contents from water submersion for up to 8 hours, and is supplied with an outstanding 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.

So who is this deed box made for? The answer is anyone that values peace of mind. You’ve read the evidence and understand what is at stake. Buy your deed box right now and take advantage of our free next day delivery service. From the moment you close the lid after placing your most cherished possessions inside, you will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that a quality deed box can provide.

For further information regarding this product, please visit our website or e-mail our friendly customer service team via support@safelincs.co.uk. You can also ring us on 0800 612 6537

Emergency Lighting – A Guide

Emergency Light - A GuideSafelincs operates a fire safety forum where people’s fire safety questions are answered by professionals. One of the frequently raised topics has been Emergency Lighting. To give you a broader understanding of emergency lighting, this blog compiles the typical queries and answers raised through the forum.

What is emergency lighting?

Emergency lighting is lighting that comes on when there is a mains power failure. Emergency lights are powered by rechargeable backup batteries which are either located inside the emergency light or in a central battery location with connections running to each emergency light. Emergency lighting is a general term and is sub-divided into emergency escape lighting and standby lighting. Standby lighting is used to continue normal work during a powercut and, as it is not a legal requirement, is not covered in this guide.

What is emergency ESCAPE lighting?

Emergency escape lighting comes on automatically when the mains power fails and gives off sufficient illumination to enable occupants and visitors to evacuate the premises safely.

Emergency escape lighting itself is sub-divided again into

  • open area lighting (bulkheads and other emergency lights)
  • escape route lighting (typically illuminated fire exit signs with a running white man on a green background)
  • high risk task area lighting (to allow the shut down of dangerous processes)

Publicly accessible buildings as well as most businesses are required by law to provide emergency escape lighting.

What key types of emergency lights are there?

There are two key types of emergency lighting: maintained and non-maintained.

Maintained emergency lights stay on constantly at all times and stay lit for the minimum emergency duration (usually 3 hours) after a mains failure. Maintained emergency escape lights are used in places of assembly like theatres, cinemas, entertainment halls but also shopping centres and similar venues. They allow the public to familiarise themselves with emergency routes and have the advantage that any failure of the emergency lighting bulbs can be spotted immediately.

A non-maintained emergency light will only light up in the event of a mains power failure and will also stay lit for the minimum emergency duration required. Non-maintained emergency lights are likely to be found in offices, shops and factories.

 

Does all escape route lighting have to be illuminated?

If sufficient open area emergency lighting is in the vicinity of a fire exit, non-illuminated fire exit signs can be sufficient in locations of minor importance. Photo-luminescent  fire exit signs would be preferable in this case, although it has to be ensured that sufficient light is reaching the photo-luminescent sign to ensure it is ‘charged’ at all times.

Considerations

British Standard BS 5266-1: 2011 provides clear guidelines about the design and installation of emergency lighting. It should be remembered that the British Standards specify the best practice for standard situations, however, a higher standard may be required for a particular installation.

The actual degree of illumination should be closely related to the nature of both the premises and its occupants.

Special consideration should be given to homes for the elderly, hospitals, crowded areas such as pubs, discos and supermarkets and to whether or not the premises are residential.

Borrowed lighting may be suitable in small premises (eg small shops) where there is light coming into the building from a dependable outside source, e.g. street lamps and will adequately illuminate escape routes. Alternatively, single ‘stand-alone’ escape lighting units may be sufficient in small premises and these can sometimes be combined with exit or directional signs.

An emergency lighting system should be installed by an electrician who specialises in emergency lighting.
They would need to be conversant with BS 5266-1- 2011 Emergency lighting-Part 1: Code of practice for emergency lighting of premises.

The question of the requirement for emergency lights in schools is a bit of an anomaly.
As a school is only occupied during the hours of daylight, emergency lighting is not therefore required. However, should the school be used out of hours, in the hall for example, then emergency lighting should be installed in the hall and the exit routes from it. The ‘responsible person’ should have the final say on this and might want to consult the local fire officer.

Toilet facilities for use by disabled people and/or any multiple closet facilities without borrowed light should have emergency escape illumination from at least one luminaire. Organisations may have to provide emergency escape lighting in each cubicle if there is no borrowed light.

What are the rules for rented properties?

For residential properties landlords are deemed to be the ‘responsible person’ for all fire safety and emergency lighting.

Single occupancy houses and houses of multiple occupancy up to two storeys high only need conventional lighting, whereas three and four storeys may require emergency escape lighting if the escape route is complex and there is no effective borrowed light.

Bedsit houses of multiple occupation of one to four storeys (with individual cooking facilities within bedsits) require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting if risk requires such or there is no effective borrowed light. Bedsit houses of multiple occupation of five or six storeys with individual cooking facilities within bedsits require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting

Two, three or four storey houses converted to self-contained flats require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting if the fire risk assessment requires it.

Five or six storey house converted to self-contained flats require conventional lighting and emergency escape lighting. Importantly, common escape routes should be well lit.
There are guidelines to help understand the provision required and landlords need to be aware of their responsibilities to carry out a fire risk assessment, and make sure their property has adequate and appropriate fire safety measures in place.

How do you maintain emergency lighting?

Emergency lights have to be tested regularly unless they are self-testing emergency lights.

Emergency lights with internal backup batteries display a small green LED that indicates that the internal battery is being charged. Older models may have a red light. However, you still have to check the function of the emergency light regularly, as the LED only confirms that the unit charges rather than that the battery will last the full period required or that the bulb is in working order. 

All emergency lighting systems must be tested monthly. The test is a short functional test in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004.
The period of simulated failure should be sufficient for the purpose of this test while minimising damage to the system components, e.g. lamps. During this period, all luminaires and signs shall be checked to ensure that they are present, clean and functioning correctly. Emergency lighting key switches are available and allow for the interruption of the power to the emergency lights without affecting the power supply to the normal lighting circuits.

A test for the full duration (usually three hours) of the emergency lights must be carried out once a year. The emergency lights must still be working at the end of this test. The result must be recorded and, if failures are detected, these must be remedied as soon as possible.
Any batteries that do not last three hours should be changed immediately.
Life expectancy will vary depending on the make of the battery – with some makes it is four years, some five years. When the life expectancy date expires the batteries should be changed. It is a good idea that when a battery is changed the date of installation is written on the battery for future reference. Safelincs supply spare batteries.

If the fitting has a fluorescent tube the life will depend on whether the unit is maintained or non-maintained. Safelincs recommends that lamps in maintained bulkheads are changed every six months. If a fluorescent lamp has blackened ends / starting to turn black the tube needs replacing.

The occupier/owner of the premises should appoint a competent person to supervise the testing of the system. This person shall be given sufficient authority to ensure the carrying out of any work necessary to maintain the system in correct operation. Competent can be defined as someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to maintain the system properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help that is required.

From a practical point of view, a normal caretaker would be able to use a test key to remove power from emergency lights and ensure that the emergency lights stay on the required period. When it comes to repair of failing emergency lights it would most likely that an electrician would be needed unless the caretaker has sufficient qualifications to replace batteries and lamps.

It is important, though, that all tests are recorded in the fire safety log book.

The longevity of emergency lights is better if lamps are changed before they are fully failing. However, this recommendation probably only applies if an organisation has a contractor for the maintenance of emergency lighting and the costs of a call-out were to be substantial. In such a case pre-emptive maintenance (changing while the light is still working) makes sense.

In the long run LED light are more economical than fluorescent tubes as they save electricity not only when the light is on but even during the trickle charging of the batteries. However, the real saving from LED emergency lights comes from not having to replace the tubes on a half yearly or yearly basis. The LEDs will last a lot longer, hence saving costs for maintenance call-outs and replacement tubes.

Many systems will have fish tail key switches in the power supply leading to suitable groups of emergency lights so that you don’t have to switch off the power at fuse level when you want to check them. If you have a system that can only be tested by switching the lighting power supply off altogether you would only be able to do your tests when the building is empty and if you have suitable portable light or suitable daylight in all locations you are checking. If you have dangerous processes in your company lighting might have to be on all the time, so that a central switch-off would be inappropriate.

 

Fire doors – Common queries from our fire safety forum

Safelincs operates a fire safety forum where people’s fire safety questions are answered by professionals. One of the frequently-raised topics are Fire Doors. This blog compiles some of the key points raised by the forum.

A fire door is designed to function both as a door and as a barrier to a fully developed fire in a building

Whilst any closed door will help to delay the spread of a fire, those designated specifically as fire doors must be capable of resisting the effect of fire for a period set out in its specification – typically 30 minutes.

Strictly speaking a fire door should be referred to as ‘a fire resisting doorset’ or fire door assembly including a frame as well.

This is because the door and the door frame act together in the context of fire resistance. In information pertaining to fire resistance you will see the actual door referred to as the ‘door leaf’ or simply the ‘leaf’. Other components are hardware (closers, hinges, etc.) and seals which must be to fire rated standards.

There are two types of smoke seal

  • A brush type seal will prevent the escape of cold smoke around the edges of the fire door. Smoke inhalation can be more dangerous than the fire itself. It is important, when fitting smoke seals, that they do not hinder the full and effective closure of the door.
  • Intumescent fire door seals remain dormant under normal conditions but expand greatly in the heat of a fire to close the gap between the door and its frame. A fire door required to provide resistance to the passage of a well-developed fire must be fitted with intumescent seals. These seals activate at temperatures that are above human survival levels, so there is no danger of them expanding and trapping people trying to escape.

Safelincs’ fire door seals contain both an intumescent strip as well as a brush to stop both smoke and fire. There are rare occasions where a brush is not helpful (if traces of smoke are required to drift through the door gap to trigger an alarm on the other side of the fire door). In these very rare cases, please contact our staff and we will supply you with intumescent strips without brush.

Fire doors are rated in accordance with the length of time they will resist a fire

A door rated FD30 will resist the passage of fire for 30 minutes, an FD60 for 60 minutes and so forth. If a fire door is rated FD30s it will have been fitted with the appropriate seal containing both intumescent and brush to resist the passage of cold smoke for 30 minutes as well.
Safelincs sells rebated or surface-mounted intumescent fire door seals which resist fire for 30 or 60 minutes (suitable for FD30 or FD60 fire doors). All Safelincs seals are available for single and double fire doors and can be fitted in the frame or the door leaf.

British Standards set out details on the permitted gaps around a fire door

BS 8214:2008 states that the gap along the sides, top and between the leaves of a double door should be 3 mm +/- 1 mm. Under-door (threshold) gaps should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the particular doorset design.
If the fire door is required to stop cold smoke as well (FDs) it should be fitted with a threshold seal underneath the door to stop the smoke. When fitted, threshold smoke seals should give an even contact with the floor but should not significantly increase friction that could hinder the opening or closing of the door.

When fitting a fire door, the door leaf can be shortened by cutting a section off at the bottom. However, the amount that can be removed at the sides is strictly limited. You need to contact the manufacturer about the maximum that can be planed off.

Fire doors should not be left open

Fire door closers have to be used to ensure that fire doors are kept shut, except when people are passing through them. There are a number of different types of closers on the market, including some which are concealed and unobtrusive – maintaining the character of a door – ideal for stylish offices or historic buildings.

It is illegal to prop fire doors open unless the door holder (also called fire door retainer) is capable of automatically releasing the door in case of a fire being detected. These work either acoustically (‘hearing’ the fire alarm) or by being wired into a building’s fire alarm system.

If users (for example, disabled people) find fire doors with closers difficult to open, ‘swing free’ devices can be used

In some circumstance the force needed to open a fire door against the resistance of the fire door closers is too great for the user to manage. Bedroom doors in care facilities for the elderly or disabled and some rooms in clinics or hospitals are examples. Such doors can be fitted with “swing free” devices. These allow the door to be easily opened or closed without any door closer resitance. They also stay open in any open position required. They are linked to a fire alarm system and will resume their self-closing function in the event of a fire.

The entrance doors to flats, within a block of flats, should be fire doors

Where there a re jointly used exit routes the individual entrance doors in blocks of flats should usually be fire doors to safeguard residents in the building.

Fire doors can be painted with ordinary paint; however, fire door fittings need to be fire-rated

Door fittings include hinges, door closers and glazing. Locks just need to be CE marked (the CE marking indicating compliance with EU product legislation). Fire doors seals can be painted over although excessive thickness of paint should be avoided.

Fire doors can be fitted with glass panels

If glazing is required, this has to be carried out using fire resistant glass. There are two main types: Georgian wired and clear glass. Safelincs offers different glass types and a range of common fire door glazing dimensions. Its manufacturing plant will fit the fire door windows and certify the fire door and glazing with a BWF (British Woodworking Federation) certificate.

Fire doors can be fitted with a security viewer

Security viewers can be fitted to fire doors and offer 60 minutes of fire protection. Safelincs offer two models that will cover doors between 35mm and 62mm thick.

Fire doors should be professionally installed

Although a competent builder or joiner can install a fire door, the recommendation would be that the work is carried out under the auspices of the Accredited Fire Door Installers Scheme. This scheme has been developed by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) in association with FIRAS (installer certification scheme), with the purpose of ensuring that fire door installations are carried out correctly, safely and in compliance with current Building Regulations.

Once the fire door has been installed, it is also important that you carry out regular maintenance checks to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. Ask the installer for guidance on the issues to look for. If you choose to keep the door open with a fire door retainer, close the door at night to avoid the door warping.

Fire doors should not be confused with fire exits

Fire exits are there to ensure a safe escape for people in the event of a fire. That is they have to open easily from the inside and need to open fully. Final fire exits leading to the outside of a building do usually not have to be fire resistant. An exception are fire exits leading to major external evacuation routes. However, fire doors are also fire exits if they are on the route to the final fire exit, eg in corridors.