Fire Kills campaign moved between government departments

fire-kills-leafletIn January this year the Government announced that responsibility for fire and rescue policy would move from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office.

Included in this move is the Fire Kills fire safety campaign with which Safelincs has been partnered since 2009. Fire Kills is responsible for the promotion of fire prevention strategies in conjunction with the country’s fire services. Notably, it has continuously run a campaign to encourage people to test their smoke alarms on a regular basis. Safelincs support this with its free smoke alarm reminder service and a range of printed posters and leaflets jointly created with Fire Kills.

The reason for the move is the government’s manifesto commitment to deliver greater joint working between the police and the fire service. It is believed that this will pave the way for improvement in local fire fighting and policing by providing clear leadership, supporting greater collaboration and delivering value for money for taxpayers. It should also allow the government to share good practice more effectively in areas such as procurement and prevention.

For Fire Kills staff it will be a virtual move; they will remain in their offices in Victoria, London but will have new telephone numbers and email addresses now that they have come under the Home Office umbrella.

Safelincs will continue to support Fire Kills by campaigning to increase awareness about the dangers of fire and by publicising prevention initiatives.

 

New focus of Fire Kills campaign

fireangel-pro-smoke-alarmIn a continuing drive to remind people to test their smoke alarms, the government agency, Fire Kills, is introducing a brand new style of advertising.

The previous ‘doom and gloom’ approach which focussed on fire related tragedies is being replaced by a more positive tone. The new adverts will feature ‘talking’ smoke alarms being friendly and helpful. Insight had shown that people tend to dislike their smoke alarms – “they only go off when I cook toast” or “the low battery warning goes off at 3am”.

Under the banner ‘Unsung Heroes’, the campaign is a very different approach for Fire Kills as it moves away from fear to imagery that focuses directly on the smoke alarms. It is hoped that presenting smoke alarms as characters that are capable of expressing emotion and creating personalities for them allows people to relate to them.

Fire Kills’ most recent strategy had been to link to the clock change, encouraging people to test their alarms while they move their clocks forward or back an hour – encouraging this behaviour by demonstrating the dreadful consequences that not having working smoke alarms can bring. However, changing clocks is less of a hook as timepieces increasingly change automatically and it was noted that even the weather forecasters do not always remind us now. Hence people need reminding to test their smoke alarms and Fire Kills now wants to promote more regular (monthly) rather than twice-yearly testing.

Radio advertising will be the lead channel and will broadcast on Capital, Heart and Smooth radio networks from 11 January to 7 February 2016. Three press adverts will appear in the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Guardian and Daily Telegraph from 11 January 2016 to 6 February 2016.

In addition Fire Kills will be trialling ‘Out of Home’ advertising with this new campaign including some large format digital advertising in seven locations across the country (Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Portsmouth). It will also be supporting the large format digital activity with bus stop posters in pilot areas. These locations will be selected following analysis of campaign awareness levels and casualty data.

Safelincs has been supporting Fire Kills initiative to increase smoke alarm testing for a number of years and offers a free reminder service with tweet or email notifications.

It’s that time of year again…

Fire KillsThe clocks go back on Saturday 25th October and the Government’s Fire Kills campaign is once again reminding people to test their smoke alarms at the same time.

As well as running a high profile campaign each time the clocks change, Fire Kills uses social media to promote monthly humorous videos featuring unusual ways for testing smoke alarms. These have included use of a skateboard, a remote controlled helicopter and a human pyramid!

Those people wishing to test their smoke alarms regularly can take advantage of Safelincs free smoke alarm reminder service and set their own pattern for having their memories jogged. We’ll send a reminder email at a frequency set by you.

Smoke alarm ownership increased rapidly from 8% in 1988 to 70% in 1994 in England, and has continued to rise and it’s now over 88%. However, it’s crucial that they are tested regularly and the batteries changed each year (unless the smoke alarm is a ten year alarm with a sealed-in battery).

After ten years a smoke alarm should be replaced. (Anyone with an Ei mains alarm can replace just the sensor unit using the easichange product. No electrician required.)

New Fire Kills campaign

firekillsTo complement the clock change campaign, which is designed to encourage people to test their smoke alarms at least twice a year, and to increase the frequency of testing, Fire Kills, the UK Government’s Fire Safety Campaign, has recently commenced a new initiative.

Running alongside the clock change campaign will be one that encourages householders test their alarms on the first of every month.

A series of comical video clips have been produced to reinforce the message. The first of these features an acrobatic troupe forming a human pyramid with the person on top testing the alarm.

Fire Kills undertook some research following last year’s March clock change advertising and asked what people believed to be a reasonable testing frequency. The main responses were 41% who said monthly, 24% when the clocks change 20% once or twice a year and 16% weekly.

Whilst the clock change campaign will continue the new monthly activities have been introduced to provide consistency in regular testing that is easily memorable and can be applied throughout the year.
Safelincs is also supporting the message of regular smoke alarm testing by offering a reminder service for smoke alarm testing.

Clocks Are Going Forward – Now Test Your Smoke Alarms

Fire Kills, the Government’s safety campaign, will again be encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when the clocks go forward at the end of March.

Safelincs is a partner of Fire Kills and has worked for a number of years supporting the message that encourages householders to regularly check their smoke alarms. In this age of austerity Fire Kills is no longer able to run long and expensive television campaigns so it now concentrates its efforts twice a year when the clocks change.

Twice a year is the bare minimum for testing alarms; manufacturers often recommend once a week. Several years ago Safelincs established a free smoke alarm reminder service whereby you can receive an email or text to remind you to test your alarms.

The frequency of these reminders can be set to suit what is best for you. You will also be reminded when it’s time to change the battery and when the alarm has reached the end of its reliable life and should be replaced.

Fire Kills will be promoting the message through national newspapers and through a local radio campaign around the time of the clock change. There is also a new smoke alarm video which can be viewed here.

Last year there were 30,709 accidental fires in the home across the country, and fifteen children’s lives were lost. With smoke alarm ownership levels at around 86%, it is evident, from the statistics and real-life cases, that not all of these work. In fact there have been tragic circumstances where fatalities have occurred when a smoke alarm was present but the battery had been removed to power something else.

Latest statistics show that you are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have a working smoke alarm.

We therefore would encourage you to test your smoke alarms when you change the clocks!

Fire Kills’ Annual Report 2010-11 highlights Safelincs’ contribution

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Fire Kills campaign aims to raise awareness of key fire safety messages to the general public. Safelincs has been a partner of the Fire Kills campaign for a number of years and its contributions have been highlighted in the latest annual report.

As an online fire safety products retailer, Safelincs provides an opportunity to encourage those who are safety conscious to consider the wellbeing of their friends and family. They have created a ‘reminders’ website that allows people to sign up to receive free reminders about testing and replacing smoke alarms. This website (www.safelincs.co.uk/reminders) features the Fire Kills logo and supporting fire safety messages.

Safelincs were the exclusive retailer of the new Ei Electronics ‘easichange’ replacement alarms for mains-wired smoke alarms in 2010-11. They produced a leaflet in line with the Fire Kills identity guidelines featuring fire safety messages to ensure that customers’ smoke alarms were in good working order.”

The full Fire Kills report can be read on http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/Firekillsreport201011

Safelincs presentation to National Chief Fire Officers Association

Safelincs was very pleased when they were asked to present a section at the National Prevention Committee Meeting which was held by the Chief Fire Officers Association at the end of January. The invitation to the West Midlands Fire Service headquarters came as a result of our partnership in the Government’s Fire Kills campaign.

The Fire Kills representative for the campaign had previously tabled a paper expressing concerns that large numbers of households may now have mains powered smoke alarms that are past their useful working life. In 1992 the Building Regulations were amended, requiring every new build to have mains powered, interconnected smoke alarms installed. Many smoke alarms installed under this regulation are still in use and are potentially approaching their twentieth year of operation. This has raised the question; “when should mains powered smoke alarms be replaced?”

Research carried out in the USA and Canada tends to support the manufacturers recommendation that all smoke alarms, mains or battery powered, should be replaced every ten years. The results of this research supports claims that a smoke alarms effectiveness may be compromised over time due to accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants and corrosion of electrical circuitry.

The two main issues surrounding the replacement of mains powered alarms are:

  1. Making people aware that smoke alarms do not last forever and need to be replaced after a certain amount of time
  2. A concern that, when made aware, householders will be scared off replacing their units due to the expense and inconvenience of having to call out an electrician to carry out the replacement.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director of Safelincs, presented a new product at the committee meeting which has been specifically designed to address the second issue. easichang®, is a replacement detector head containing the sensor and circuitry for a range of Ei Electronics smoke and heat alarms – the UKs most widely used mains powered alarms. Using the removal tool provided, the old head unit can be removed leaving the base plate (which is wired into the mains power) in situ. The new head unit can then be easily installed on the existing base without requiring an electrician.

The presentation sparked a lot of interest with most in attendance seeing the benefits of these products. Plans are now under way to carry out UK based research which will help to provide crucial evidence as to how frequently smoke alarms should be replaced.

The meeting was left on a positive note with delegates returning home to continue discussions with colleagues about the most successful way to promote the active replacement of smoke alarms no longer fit for purpose.

Why should smoke alarms be replaced after ten years?

In 1992, the Building Regulations were amended requiring every new build to allow for mains-wired, interconnected smoke alarms to be installed. With many alarms installed under this Regulation still in use and potentially approaching their twentieth year, it was necessary to research a recommendation as to when mains powered smoke alarms should be replaced.

Current recommendations

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

Why Replace Alarms?

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

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

Testing Smoke Alarms

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

Conclusion

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

Mains-wired interconnected alarms – Replacement kits

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

National Fire Campaign to Promote Fire Safety in North Lincolnshire Schools

October 4 to October 8 2010 is National Schools Fire Safety Week. This campaign is aimed at raising fire safety awareness and to help educate children on fire safety issues.

The annual event is organised by The Fire Fighters Charity and Fire Kills campaign. This year’s topic is called Matches and Lighters – Tools Not Toys. The brigades of North Lincolnshire will be visiting schools to deliver talks on fire safety awareness and the dangers of using matches and lighters. The campaign is also aimed at providing useful tips for parents.

The campaign has a website that can be accessed where children can play interactive games and adults can gain tips and learn activities that can help to educate their children to be safe around matches and lighters.

For more information visit www.nationalschoolsfiresafetyweek.com

FireKills Advertisement Receives Award

Last year’s FireKills campaign has received a Yellow Pencil award by D&AD. The campaign was used to depict the effect of smoke and compared this to drowning.

FireKills is a governmental fire safety promotion campaign in which Safelincs Ltd is stakeholder. The short film created for last year’s campaign is very hard hitting and shows a couple asleep in a bed underwater. The voiceover of the film makes the comparison to toxic smoke by stating that you only need two or three breaths to be rendered unconscious.

Safelincs would like to congratulate all at FireKills on this prestigious award. View the short film