New service-free extinguishers for buses, taxis, boats and other applications

2kglrt-p50Following the great success of the 6 kg/ltr powder and foam P50 service-free extinguishers in working environments as varied as offices, refineries, farms, schools and churches, Britannia has now also launched 2kg powder and 2ltr foam versions of the service-free extinguisher. Like the 6kg/ltr versions, the smaller variant is manufactured with a corrosion-proof inner plastic cylinder cocooned by Aramid fibre to hold the chemicals and pressure. The extinguisher is then finished with an outer UV-proof sleeve and corrosion-free fittings. Like the larger extinguishers, the smaller series is, of course, kitemarked and CE marked and can be factory re-furbished after 10 years. It also features the same industry leading 10 year warranty of the larger P50s.

All service-free extinguishers from Britannia only require a simple, annual visual inspection which is carried out by the owners or their representatives. They do not require any visits by an extinguisher technician and no refill after 5 years.

The extinguishers are aimed at vehicles and locations, where maintenance is difficult or even impossible. The examples below include areas where small extinguishers are common and traditionally serviced:

  • offshore wind farms: Wind turbine housings require small fire extinguishers. The 2 kg/ltr version of the P50 is ideal and is easily visually checked annually by the engineers carrying out the regular mechanical maintenance of the turbines.
  • buses and taxis: the traditional maintenance of small on-board extinguishers is very expensive, as it requires service technicians to be based at bus depots at night time. With the 2kg powder P50, the annual visual inspection is carried out by the depot technicians when engine services are carried out.
  • small boats and narrowboats: The P50 extinguishers are Boat Safety Scheme approved and are ideal in the corrosive environment of rivers and sea water. The 2kg powder extinguisher is ideal for engine compartments, while the 2 ltr foam extinguisher version is perfect in the kitchen and living compartments on boats.
  • farm machinery: diggers, tractors and other machinery require small powder extinguishers. The maintenance of these is challenging, due to the working pattern and remoteness of the machines. The 2kg powder P50 can be installed on the machines and is visually inspected annually by farm staff without the need for any external visits.
  • market stalls: market stall holders are required by their insurance to have small extinguishers with them. Due to the regularly changing location, it is difficult to arrange for service engineers to carry out the maintenance. Again, the small service-free P50 extinguishers are here extremely helpful, as they can be inspected by the stall holder.
  • rented properties: Many landlords provide small fire extinguishers in the kitchen. The problem is then to arrange annual maintenance in daytime when tenants are often working or out of house. The 2ltr P50 foam extinguisher offers here a perfect solution. The landlord or any handyman can visually inspect the extinguisher on repair or inspection visits.
  • hotel rooms: Hotel rooms, especially when containing any cooking facility, often feature a small extinguisher. To avoid disturbance of guests, the 2ltr P50 foam offers a great way forward here. Rather than requiring a service engineer, hotel staff simply carry out the easy annual visual inspection and record the finding in the fire safety logbook of the hotel.

The list of useful and cost-saving applications where you can use these service-free models is endless. Please contact our friendly sales team if you would like to discuss your own requirements and see how much money you could be saving. You can email us on support@safelincs.co.uk or call 0800 612 6537

New CO alarm legislation in Scotland for landlords

scottish-flagLandlords in Scotland are preparing for a new law that comes into power from the 1st of December regarding carbon monoxide (CO) detection in rented properties. The legislation is being introduced as part of the ‘repairing standard’ which governs the responsibilities of landlords in relation to basic standards of upkeep and safety.

The detection of carbon monoxide has now joined smoke detection on this list of duties, placing the responsibility for purchasing and installing CO detectors firmly in the hands of landlords. Those failing to provide CO detection are liable for referral to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) which has the authority to take action against landlords failing to comply.

This development has been welcomed by groups promoting CO safety, as statistics show that those living in privately rented accommodation are up to three times more likely to suffer from CO poisoning that those living in any other housing type.

Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and deadly. The only way to reliably detect CO presence is to install CO detectors. It is therefore predicted that the introduction of this law will help landlords to identify and resolve problems with their fuel burning appliances, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

FACO9X10Two important factors to note are that the legislation specifies all CO detectors supplied by landlords must feature a sealed, long-life battery, and that there should be a detector sited in every room containing a fuel burning appliance. Therefore it may be necessary to install more than one detector within a property and to replace detectors with changeable batteries already in place to comply with the regulations.

It should, however, be recognised that appliances used solely for the cooking of food are exempt from the legislation, but if a cooking appliance was to be in the same room as a fuel burning heating appliance, then that room would need to be covered by a detector.

A detailed guide to the legislation can be found within our Landlords and Fire Safety help section. However, if you need any assistance in relation to the new CO law, or any other aspect of fire safety, please feel free to contact our customer service team on who will be happy to help you purchase the most suitable products.

New fire safety legislation for landlords

landlord-offerIn a move to increase the safety of tenants in rented accommodation, a new law will require landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The legislation, which is due to come into force in October 2015, is estimated to help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year. It will require landlords to ensure that a smoke alarm is installed on each storey of a premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

In addition carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in any room which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel-burning appliance. Prior to any new tenancy beginning the landlord will be required to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order.
Testing regularly will remain the tenant’s responsibility.

Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will face sanctions and could face a civic penalty of up to £5,000.

To ensure that smoke alarms are in a good working order and do not have their batteries removed by tenants it is best to install sealed longlife smoke alarms. Safelincs also offers sealed longlife CO alarms, again assuring landlords the safe longterm protection of their tenants.

UK’s Chief Fire Officers and Safelincs launch new online fire safety shop

Chief Fire Officers AssociationCFOA, the Chief Fire Officers Association, through their subsidiary Blue Watch and in partnership with Safelincs, have launched a fire safety shop offering information and fire safety products for landlords, tenants and home owners. The site is a one-stop shop to allow residential users to select the products most suitable for their application, safe in the knowledge that the products have been carefully selected and are suitable for them. Each category of buyer has its own selection of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers to choose from.

The website will help increase fire safety awareness and raises funds for CFOA to allow it to promote its fire safety messages in an environment of government cutbacks.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs, commented: “I am very pleased Safelincs has been chosen by the CFOA to create and run the Blue Watch Shop website. It is a testament to our reputation and high level of customer satisfaction that such a prestigious organisation has entrusted us to manage its sales operations.”

The site will sell a selection of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms with Safelincs managing and fulfilling all orders on behalf of the CFOA.
Bluewatch Website

Landlords fire safety advice section

Our fire safety advice section on our website is dedicated to giving free advice to our customers. One of the areas where we get asked the most fire safety questions are HMOs and landlord fire safety. To help landlords answer these queries, we have created a specific editorial. The ‘Landlords and fire safety‘ section has an abundance of advice for landlords, ranging from acts and regulations to how to save money by choosing e.g. correct fire alarm systems.

Hot discussions about extinguishers removed in HMOs

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

The latest case was in Richmond:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the legal situation?

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

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

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

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

This guide states on page 28:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New fire safety guide for landlords

Fire safety for landlords is a complicated issue. Through attending various events we have been asked numerous times by landlords for help in creating a condensed overview of fire safety relevant to them. Whilst there are already a number of extremely helpful and well-written guides available (the LACoRS and fire risk assessment guides to name but a few), we wrote a short guide to help landlords get a feeling for the legislation and fire safety guidance affecting their market.

This article can be viewed in our landlord section and contains some useful links relevant to landlords.

£158,000 Fine for Landlord’s Fire Safety Breach

In February 2008 some of the occupants of a four storey house that had been divided into flats were forced to flee over the roof of 9 Hillsborough Terrace, Devon, where they lived, due to a fire.

Joseph Ernest Draper, who owned the building at the time of the fire, was found guilty of four offences under the Fire Safety Order 2005.  As a result of this conviction Mr Draper was ordered to pay £135,000 in fines and a total of £23,000 in costs.

Devon and Somerset fire investigators carried out a safety audit after the fire occurred.  The audit found that the fire had started on the ground floor and was able to spread from this area into the escape route as the door giving access to the ground floor flat was not adequately constructed against fire, allowing the spread of fire into the escape route.

It was also found that three doors were not fitted with self closing devices. Had they been fitted with such a device the spread of fire would have been prevented.

Devon and Somerset area manager, Nick Manning, hoped that this conviction would give a clear message to all landlords of flats and that the heavy fines awarded in this case would encourage others to ensure that they did not breach the Fire Safety regulations.

Read the full story

Development of Landlords Fire Safety Bill

Liberal Democrat MP, Adrian Sanders, has introduced a  private members bill to ensure that landlords are responsible for having a working smoke alarm system for the premises they let.

This bill will now have its second hearing. The bill outlines the responsibility of landlords to ensure that on the onset of a new tenancy there is a functioning mains wired smoke alarm system installed in each property. The continuous responsibility to ensure that the alarm system is in good working order would then be that of the tenant.

Mr Sanders hopes that this bill will help to protect a vulnerable section of our society. It comes as a result of two children dying in a fire in a rented property in Torquay in October 2009. The property was not equipped with smoke alarms.