Extinguisher run over by van – still pressurised!

We were always convinced that our P50 service free extinguishers made from a Kevlar-type aramid were almost in-destructable. Nevertheless, when one of our engineers was visiting one of our customers, a refinery on the east coast, he was surprised when he was handed a fire extinguisher that had been run over by a van and that it was still fully pressurised!

crushed-p50-1crushed-p50-2crushed-p50-3

This is not that surprising when you know that 1 in 500 of these extinguishers are tested by pressurising them 12,000 times from zero bar to 25 bar. And after they have undergone this harsh test, they are crushed flat by a steel blade before being re-inflated without being allowed to leak at 55 bar!

The P50 service free extinguisher is suitable for the harshest of environments, including outdoors.

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.

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.

Warning about pre-commissioned fire extinguishers

We occasionally get asked by our customers, if we could pre-service, or pre-commission our fire extinguishers for them prior to shipping. This practice, explicitly forbidden for all registered fire safety companies, involves a visual inspection and then labeling of an extinguisher with a signed off service label at the RETAILER’S warehouse. While this sounds like a clever practice, it is a service we would never offer to our customers. Apart from the fact that the British Standard BS5306-3:2009 specifically requests on-site commissioning to be completed AFTER all transport involved, the practice of pre-commissioning puts the customer both at the risk of injury and exposes them to substantial legal liabilities.

The main risk to the functioning of a fire extinguisher, and the reason for the requirement for extinguishers to be commissioned on site is damage during transport.

pre-delivery-inspection

Handles can get bent with the biggest risk being the safety pin being bent to a degree where it cannot be removed in an emergency. The latter event happens when cheap fire extinguishers rest on their heads in transit. Be careful when purchasing extinguishers online from less professional suppliers, as they often use mild steel pins that bend easily. Safelincs’ fire extinguishers, on the other hand, are 100% protected in transit by special head protectors or the use of stainless steel pins with extended diameters so that the pins can never bend in transit.

Another transport risk is leakage of CO2 fire extinguishers in transit. CO2 fire extinguishers do not have pressure valves and only a careful weight test during commissioning (removing the horn and measuring with precision scales) will reveal any loss in pressure and weight.

The other strong rationale for proper on-site commissioning is that customers require a certificate by an engineer to state that their premises are covered in accordance to the British Standard. A sticker on the extinguisher does not certify that the extinguisher is installed in the correct position or that it is in fact the right extinguisher for the risks present at the location.

All of this means that by taking a shortcut buying pre-commissioned extinguishers you are putting yourself at risk of liability if a faulty extinguisher is the cause of a failed attempt to put out a fire, resulting in loss of property and possibly injury or death. An insurance company might not pay out for damages, if the extinguishers on site were not correctly commissioned.

Safelincs has long been addressing this issue and offers all its extinguishers with an optional ON-SITE commissioning or installation/commissioning service. Our BAFE certified engineers will visit you and commission or install and commission the extinguishers at your premises. If the commissioning and installation option is chosen, our engineer will survey your site to make sure you have the correct extinguisher provision, fit the extinguishers brackets in the correct location, certify the extinguishers and label and sign each extinguisher. You are then fully covered for all eventualities.

Long-term effects of CO poisoning

One of the speakers at the launch of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week at the House of Lords in November 2012 was Dr Steven White. He gave a very interesting presentation on the long-term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, some of which are only recently being fully realised.

Dr White has co-written a factsheet that is published on the website of Headway, the charity that works to improve life after brain injury. With Headway’s permission we reproduce a short extract here.

Like other types of anoxic brain injury, acute CO poisoning may lead to quite severe long-term neurological problems, with disturbances in memory, language, cognition, mood and behaviour. The damage to the basal ganglia, which is a particular feature of CO poisoning, may lead to a movement disorder resembling Parkinson’s disease.

An unusual feature of acute CO poisoning is the delayed deterioration in neurological condition which may be seen in some cases, occurring anything from a few days to as long as five to six weeks after the initial exposure. The reason for this is not entirely clear, but changes in the white matter of the brain seem to be involved. It has been suggested that these may result from demyelination, in which there is loss of the fatty, insulating myelin sheath of the nerve axons, therefore impairing their ability to conduct electrical nerve impulses.

Chronic CO exposure

Chronic (persistent and long-term) exposure to lower levels of CO, as can occur with faulty domestic boilers, may go unrecognised. The symptoms include milder versions of those seen in acute CO poisoning, with headache, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue and sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and memory problems, as well as changes in mood.

People may be aware that something is wrong, but be unable to identify exactly what is the matter, or may attribute the problems to overwork, stress or depression. If symptoms disappear while away at work, reappearing on returning home, or if other people in the same premises develop similar symptoms, it may become more obvious that there is an environmental cause.

Although most people seem to recover following chronic low level CO exposure when the source is removed, it can also lead to anoxic brain injury. There have been some documented cases of subtle Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) abnormalities and long-term neuropsychological effects.

Treatment of CO poisoning

Treatment of acute exposure to CO involves immediate removal from the source of the poisoning and administration of 100% oxygen, together with general supportive medical care.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is sometimes advocated for severe cases of CO poisoning and involves giving pure oxygen at increased pressures in a hyperbaric chamber. It has been suggested that this may improve the long-term neurological outcome, although it remains controversial. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a specialised technique, which is only available in a few centres. It may also be associated with complications of its own and it is not used routinely.

To read the full factsheet go here

More information about carbon monoxide poisoning and detection can be found on our websites.

Extending Ei140 + Ei160 series smoke alarm groups

Many homes and small businesses are equipped with mains powered smoke alarms to BS5839 part 6 Grade D. These alarms are usually linked with cable and have to be installed by electricians. When increasing the number of smoke and heat alarms at a later date, it is costly and disruptive to run extra cable to the additional alarms, decorations are damaged and dust is created.

With the Aico Ei140 series (Ei141, Ei144, Ei146) and the Aico Ei160 series (Ei161, Ei164, Ei166), adding more smoke alarms to the group of alarms can be very simple using radio-interlinking.

Just one existing smoke alarm is taken off the ceiling and its existing base plate replaced with the RF base plate Ei168. This exchange, while very swift and simple, should be carried out by an electrician. The old alarm then simply slots onto the newly fitted base plate. Now you can install any of the radio-interlinked smoke alarm ranges from AICO/Ei in the additional rooms you wish to protect. The new radio-linked alarms will then communicate fully with the old system. This means that if any of the smoke alarms goes off (old or new alarms), the rest of the alarms will sound an alarm as well.

You have three choices to achieve this extension with radio-interlinked smoke alarms:

1) Install more mains powered alarms together with RF base plates. Their electrical power supply can be drawn from the nearest light fitting. This solution will require an electrician for all the work. However, this is a solution that will guarantee the Grade D rating of your installation. There is obviously no cabling required between the units, as the radio signal will communicate between the new alarms and, through the single converted old smoke alarm, with the old system. There are additional add-ons you can include in this system, such as RF manual break points and handheld controls for testing and, in the case of the Ei160 series, even for silencing and to locate the source of an alarm.

List of Alarms and add-ons available:

Series installed already Mains powered RF Smoke alarms available Manual break points available (optional). Wireless and 10 year battery Handheld controls available (optional)
Ei140 Ei407 Ei410TRF handheld test fob (tests interconnection, only)
Ei160 Ei407
  • Ei410 handheld test, hush and locator
  • Ei411H wall mounted test, hush and locator

2) If you want to save the cost for the electrician and want to speed up the installation process, you can install battery operated radio-interlinked alarms. One of the radio-interlinked families is the Ei600 series, which comes with a sealed-in ten year power supply. This system is usually accepted as a Grade D system, even though formally, as it does not contain mains power, it is not classified as a grade D system. If you have to satisfy a Building Inspector or the fire service, it makes therefore good sense to get their agreement before installing the system.

List of battery operated alarms and add-ons available:

Series installed already Battery operated RF smoke alarms Manual break points available (optional). Wireless and 10 year battery Handheld control (optional)
Ei140 Ei407 Ei410TRF handheld test fob (tests interconnection, only)
Ei160 Ei407
  • Ei410 handheld test, hush and locator
  • Ei411H wall mounted test, hush and locator

3) If you are not required to install in accordance to BS5839 Part 6 Grade D (eg older houses built prior to introduction of Building Regulations), you can also use radio-interlinked smoke alarms with alkaline backup batteries which must be replaced every year or two. This is of course the cheapest way of expanding your existing smoke alarm system. Again, all alarms will go off together, both the new as well as the old alarms.

List of radio-interlinked, battery operated alarms and add-ons available:

Series installed already Battery operated RF smoke alarms Manual break points available (optional). Wireless and 10 year battery Handheld control (optional)
Ei140 Ei407 Ei410TRF handheld test fob (tests interconnection, only)
Ei160 Ei407 Ei410TRF handheld test fob (tests interconnection, only)

Difference Between Fire Doors and Fire Exits

The issue of fire doors and fire exits can be confusing for non-professionals in fire safety. If you have to replace some of the doors in your premises with fire doors or you have to improve egress from a building with panic bars on fire exits, it will be helpful to have a clear understanding of the differences between fire doors and fire exits.

A fire door is an internal door, whose purpose is to i) create/protect an escape route through a building in a fire situation; and ii) compartmentalise a fire, to stop flames and smoke spreading from one section of the building to another. Examples of locations of fire doors include stairwells, where they protect the stairs from corridors opening on to them; kitchens/catering facilities, storage areas that house combustible materials such as paper and card, and boiler rooms.

Fire doors have to be kept close at all times unless certified fire door retainers are installed (not just a door wedge!) which hold the fire door open until a fire alarm is set off.

Certified fire doors of solid timber construction are designed to resist the smoke and flames of a fire for a minimum specified length of time, typically 30 minutes (FD30), when closed. Because a fire door is not simply a block of wood in a frame but an assembly of fire resistant parts – door leaf/leaves, door frame, hardware (e.g. locks, latches, hinges, etc), any glazing, smoke/intumescent seals and an automatic closing device – it is also known as a fire doorset.

A fire exit door on the other hand, is an external door; it can be left open and does not have to be fire resistant. The purpose of the fire exit door is to allow a quick and un-hindered escape through a well lit door into a place of safety while stopping un-authorised access from the outside. Fire exits doors should open easily and, wherever possible, in the direction of traffic flow. If it is a security door that is usually kept locked but will be used by members of the public in an emergency situation, it will have to be fitted with a panic or push bar. By enabling the swift passage of people to a place of safety, the final exit door will have performed its function; it does not have to be a fire door to accomplish this. Fire exit doors can also be opened from the outside, if for example a panic bar with a key lock override is fitted. Fire exits must never be obstructed and have to be clearly marked and well lit. Best practice dictates that fire exit signs are fitted above fire exits.

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.

Replacement of old Kidde smoke alarms

As well as testing your smoke and heat alarms on a regular basis, it is important to make a note of when the units actually need to be replaced. Studies have shown that the functionality of smoke and heat alarms can start to deteriorate when they reach a lifespan of 10 years. Each smoke and heat alarm should have a “replace by date” visible on the outside of the unit and we recommend that you adhere to this guideline.

When replacing a smoke alarm it can be quite difficult to recognise a suitable replacement product. In some cases, you may find that the current alarm model has been discontinued. With battery operated alarms, as there is no wiring in place, it is much easier to replace the unit for another smoke alarm with like-for-like features. Mains powered alarms are hard wired and are most likely interconnected during installation. It is because of this that finding replacement detectors can be difficult.

Working with Kidde Safety Europe, Safelincs are able to provide a list of mains powered discontinued Kidde smoke and heat alarms, along with their suitable product equivalents.

Discontinued Alarm Replacement Alarm
123/9HI KEKF10
123i KEKF10
123/9HILL KEKF10R
223/9HI KEKF20
223/9HILL KEKF20R
1275H KEKF10
323/9HI KEKF30
323/9HILL KEKF30R

The new alarms will interlink with other, still working units of the previously installed smoke alarms. This means that there is no need to replace all of the units within a system if only some of the installed detectors have reached the end of their recommended lifespan. All new mains powered smoke and heat alarms are provided with a mounting bracket and a wiring connector. It is important to note that you need to replace the existing mounting base and re-connect the wiring to fit the new units. With any mains powered alarms, all electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.

Safelincs offer a smoke alarm reminder service which allows customers to be notified when their smoke and heat alarms are due to be replaced, when the batteries need to be changed and reminds customers to test their alarms on a regular basis. The service is completely free and customers can choose if they wish to be reminded by email, SMS text message or by Twitter.

New Evacuator Site Alarms

Recently Safelincs added several new site alarms to their range. These included the Evacuator Site Guard call point and push button alarms, the Evacuator Tough Guard and the newly released Evacuator Tough Guard Wireless.

All four of these alarms are designed for use in building and construction sites, temporary marquees, camp sites, markets etc. where installing a permanent fire alarm system would be impractical and unnecessarily costly.

The Evacuator Site Guard is ideal for less harsh environments, such as camp sites and markets, while the Evacuator Tough Guard is perfect for busy building and construction sites where it may encounter water, dirt, dust and debris. The Tough Guard features an IP56 rated weatherproof enclosure that copes with harsh weather conditions and the occasional knocks and bumps it may have to endure.

These battery powered alarms can be used as standalone units or linked using 2 core wire. Running interlink cables all over a busy construction site may not be safe or practical, and this is where the new Tough Guard Wireless comes in. The Tough Guard Wireless has all the strength, durability and weatherproof protection of the standard Tough Guard with the added benefit of completely wireless interconnection to other Tough Guard Wireless units. The amazing 18,000m wireless range, long life battery and extremely loud 118dB sounder make these alarms an essential piece of safety equipment for any situation.

Take a look at the new models in our site alarm product range.