Cuts Put Lives at Risk Warn Fire Chiefs

Fire brigade leaders from cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are warning that more people will die in house fires if government ministers push ahead with cuts to fire services.

An article in the Independent (22/9/12) reported that the warning was contained in a submission to a review of spending by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and seen by Exaro, the investigative website.

In the past financial year fire authorities cut 2,172 jobs, including 1457 firefighters, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Unions and managers both believe if cuts continue response to incidents will be slower and attendance levels will shrink as capacity is stretched – increasing risk to the community and firefighters.

However, a DCLG spokeswoman said it did not accept cuts could not be made without affecting the front line. “Savings can include more flexible staffing arrangements, better sickness management, sharing back-office services, improved procurement and sharing chief fire officers and other senior staff.”

Taking precautions

Whichever side of the argument one takes, the debate should encourage people to ensure all the necessary precautions have been taken to safeguard their homes. At a time of year when fires are ignited, electric blankets switched on and candles lit, it is especially important to ensure that all the necessary safety measures have been taken.

One of the most obvious steps to take is to ensure that smoke alarms are fitted on every level of a property.  There are many different types available to suit all budgets and requirements.

A battery operated device with a five year guarantee can be purchased for under £8. Radio interlinked devices, whereby a device being activated in one room triggers the alarms in other areas, are more expensive. Heat alarms are recommended for kitchens as they won’t be set of by cooking fumes. Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing feature high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads.

Whilst the majority of homes now have smoke alarms fitted it is important that they are maintained properly. The batteries should be tested regularly and replaced according to manufacturer’s recommendations. And the unit should be replaced after ten years as the sensors cannot be relied upon beyond this time. A free reminder service on the Safelincs website reminds people by text or email when each of these activities need to take place.

Mains alarms

There is a misconception that mains smoke alarms last forever. This is not the case. Just like battery systems the sensor cannot be guaranteed to be effective beyond ten years. However, many older models can be replaced with a genuine replacement alarm from the same manufacturer. This allows the main part of the alarm, containing the sensor, to be replaced leaving the base unit in place. The procedure can be simply carried out by the householder without the expense of calling in an electrician.

Fire extinguishers

Many people like the peace of mind of having a fire extinguisher in the home and there are many domestic versions now available. One of the most interesting new products on the market is the UltraFire Water Mist extinguisher. This can be used on just about every type of domestic fire, including deep fat fires, and can be safely operated around electrical appliances.

The extinguisher works by dispersing microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials very rapidly. There are no chemicals involved, so it is 100% environmentally friendly. Should the extinguisher need to be discharged in a cooking area there is no danger of contaminated food. And there is no risk to children.

When purchasing any type of extinguisher you should familiarise yourself with the operating instructions. Fire extinguishers will work well on small fires but if they spread there is no alternative but to get out and call the fire service.

Nearly £3000 cost savings achieved for guest house

When Kim and Terry of the Ramblers Guesthouse in Trusthorpe on the Lincolnshire East Coast contacted us, they had just received a request by a County Council Fire Protection Officer to upgrade their existing alarm system to standard BS5839 pt 1 2002. This would have meant that they would have had to install a central fire control panel and interlinked fire and heat detectors. The installation of this system would have made it necessary to lay cables throughout the two storey building with its 6 guest rooms during the main holiday season! The thought of all the upheaval and possible loss of revenue coupled with the cost of this system led the owners to seek our help.

Safelincs looked at the option of using a wireless system to BS5839 part 1 but the cost for this was still similar to a wired system with central alarm panel. The MD of Safelincs then rung the fire safety officer in question who, after initial hesitation and after some internal discussions, agreed that the guest house, having only two floors and a relatively small number of bedrooms could be downgraded to a domestic fire alarm system falling in category BS5839 part 6 grade D. It was agreed that the Ei radio-interlinked system with guaranteed 10 year lithium batteries was equivalent to a Grade D system. This system contains radio-interlinked manual break points as well as smoke and heat detectors. The installation was soon after carried out by Safelincs in the space of two hours without any electrical tools being required, as the alarms and break points were all installed with adhesive tape. Apart from the obvious substantial cost savings, the system has numerous other advantages. The maintenance of the system can be carried out by the guest house owners by simply pressing one of the test buttons (of course a different one each time the system is tested) and each smoke detector has an integrated sounder, which improves general sound levels significantly.

This case shows that fire risk assessments allow room for discussions and as long as the safety of the people within a building is not compromised, the fire services and the councils’ fire protection officers are happy to discuss the best and most appropriate solution.

New Help Page For Replacing Discontinued Smoke Alarms

When smoke alarms reach about 10 years of age they need replacing to ensure full protection of the building. As smoke alarm manufacturers improve the technology of smoke alarms, they bring out new models every few years. This can be a problem, especially if a customer has networked smoke alarms and would like to replace just some of them.

It can sometimes be very difficult to know which alarm is compatible with your existing alarms, especially if the base is different or the new smoke alarm has a different interconnection. To help reduce the frustration for our customers we recently developed a chart for Kidde mains powered smoke alarms to show which new alarms were replacing discontinued or upgraded smoke alarms. The  feedback we got from our visitors was so strong, that we rolled this list out to Ei Electronics and Aico smoke alarms. Customers can now pin-point the best replacements for our main ranges of Ei and Kidde smoke alarms. There is no complicated table to navigate, just a very neat chart that clearly indicates which replacement alarm you need to buy.

Where possible we have tried to keep the replacement smoke alarms of the same shape and size but there are some that will need to have new bases fitted and may be of a different shape, which could mean that you will need to decorate around it.

If you have any further queries or cannot find your old smoke alarm model in our list, please contact us and we are happy to help and add the model to the list.

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

Update 03-02-2021: The Easichange range of alarms has been discontinued in light of ongoing changes to the replacement models. Safelincs’ support for customers continues with a simplified series of replacement smoke and heat alarms that will still be familiar to previous Easichange customers.

How to stay safe from fire in your home

A domestic fire is perhaps the most terrifying event that you could imagine happening to you in your home. Sadly, such occurrences do happen; therefore, you need to make sure that your home and family are suitably prepared to deal with any fire that may develop.

Here are some basic, yet essential safety suggestions that can help to ensure your household is as prepared as possible for any fire-based incident.

Install smoke detectors
Without doubt, smoke detectors are the very best form of defence when it comes to fire safety. Indeed, suitably placed smoke detectors will alert you to a fire in your home before you are able to see, hear or smell it. Ideally, smoke detectors should be placed on every floor of your home and in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms or even in bedrooms. Ideally smoke alarms want to be interlinked with wire or radio-frequency to ensure an alarm is heard in the entire house. To ensure they remain in good working order, smoke detectors need to be tested when the clocks are changed (every half year) and have the batteries replaced at once a year.

Develop an escape strategy
Regardless of how big or small your home may be, it is vital that you and your family draw up an escape strategy that you all understand. This means planning at least two escape routes from each occupied bedroom and buying fire ladders for upstairs bedrooms. It also means that every member of your household knows basic safety procedures like checking doors for heat before opening them and crawling on the floor to stay out of the smoke. Obviously, it is important to practice your strategy every now and then so that everybody remembers exactly what they need to do.

Buy fire extinguishers
Having a fire extinguisher or two at hand can be essential as they can help to ensure small fires don’t turn into big blazes. Always keep one suitable extinguisher in the kitchen as this is the room where most domestic fires start. Get into the habit of checking your extinguishers on a regular basis – this will give you peace of mind that they are in good working order.

Use your common sense
Far too many domestic fires happen as a direct result of residents doing things which they simply shouldn’t do. For example, aspects like smoking in bed and positioning portable heaters next to flammable objects really is asking for trouble. Do not plug too many plugs and extensions in sockets.

Explore our pages further to find out more about the importance of being suitably prepared for domestic fires and view our great range of safety products in greater detail.

Which type of smoke alarm should I use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wireless smoke alarms in private households

Smoke alarms are some of the most important fire safety products in your home. Fires often break out after you left a room or have gone to bed. For example if you left the cooker on, left a pan on the cooker, forgot to extinguish some candles or to extinguish an open fire. Smoke alarms will notify you immediately if a fire starts and will give you valuable time to either fight the fire or flee the building. This early warning is crucial, as seconds count when fleeing from a fire, especially if you have to look after the safe escape of children as well. If your house or flat is too big to hear, for example, a heat alarm going off in the kitchen from your bedroom, you need to interlink your smoke alarms. This can be done with cable (battery or main smoke alarms are available with cable interlink) or with a wireless radio-interlink. Radio-interlinked smoke alarms communicate with each other through radio-frequency. If one smoke alarm detects fire, it passes the warning to all other smoke alarms in their system, so that all smoke alarms sound the alarm.

Radio-interlinked smoke alarms are available as ordinary battery smoke alarms, longlife battery smoke alarms with a guaranteed ten year battery life or as mains powered alarms.

Wireless smoke alarms can also be used in any outbuildings your home may have, like sheds, garages or workshops. You can expand the alarms’ coverage quickly and easily as and when you need to add new alarms.

Like any other smoke alarms, wireless smoke alarms need to be regularly tested to ensure that they are fully operational.

You can buy your wireless smoke alarms indiviually or in home fire safety kits, which reduce the cost of fire safety provision.

How to protect a kitchen with heat detectors

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

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

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

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

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

Primary Times promote our smoke alarm reminder service

Primary times, a magazine written for teachers, parents and children in the UK has written an article promoting our smoke alarm reminder service.

In conjunction with Fire Kills we are encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when the clocks change on March 25th 2012. Primary times is helping us spread this message. The article not only encourages readers to test their alarms on the 25th but to also set up a free reminder using our reminder service to alert them to test their smoke alarms on a regular basis.

If you are interested in setting up a reminder to test your alarms on a regular basis please visit our reminders page www.safelincs.co.uk/reminders/.

Go on, push that button, it might save your life.

5 Year extended warranty on ALL essential fire safety goods

Many fire safety products purchased by our customers are long term purchases and so a long lasting quality is expected. Despite this expectation we were always surprised at the short warranties offered by manufacturers. How could a large fire safe costing hundreds of pounds be only warranted for two years? We saw this as a challenge and Safelincs has been researching alternative suppliers and forms of underwriting for its fire safety product range ever since. As a first step we introduced a 10 year warranty on our top range of fire extinguishers, an extended warranties for the Dorgard fire door retainers and as the final achievement we have now rolled out a free extended warranty on all essential fire safety goods. All these products will now have a warranty of at least 5 years. The extended warranties consist of the warranty offered by the manufacturer plus the additional free extended warranty underwritten by Safelincs.

Products that will be covered by the 5 year extended warranty are

  • all fire safes
  • anti-arson letterboxes
  • emergency lights
  • Dorgard fire door retainers
  • fire door closers (10 year warranty)
  • exit hardware (10 year warranty)

And of course all our smoke and CO alarms, as well as all our extinguishers, already have a minimum five year warranty.

These free extended warranties will ensure our customers get value for money and that they can be confident that when dealing with us they will always get a professional service and the best fire safety products available in the market.

Our extended 5 year warranty on all essential fire safety goods and our free after fire replacement policy are just two reasons why Safelincs continues to be the supplier of choice for fire safety goods for many businesses. Buy from Safelincs, the UK’s largest online fire safety supplier, to ensure that your products will still be working when you expect them to.