Hushing Interlinked Smoke Alarms

Interlinked smoke alarms are becoming more and more popular as they quickly alert you to the event of a fire across larger houses, where there is a risk that you might not hear an alarm going off in the kitchen when you are, for example, in a bedroom upstairs.

Whether connected to each other with wire or wirelessly interlinked through radio frequency, interlinked smoke alarms allow you to connect multiple units – including different types of detectors – which will all sound at the same time when a single alarm detects a potential fire. The heat alarm in the kitchen, the ionisation alarm in your home office, and the specialist strobe and vibration alarm in your elderly parents’ bedroom, for example, will all go off at the same time, if just one alarm is triggered by fire.

Most of us are familiar with the test button on smoke alarms which allows residents to test their alarms regularly, to ensure the components are working and the power supply, whether battery or mains power, is working. On top of this, however, many alarms have a “hush” button which allows you to silence an alarm that has gone off, for example, due to burnt toast.

So how do hush buttons work when you have several interlinked alarms?

It’s easy to assume that, as they are all connected, hushing one alarm will silence all of them, but it is equally logical that only the unit on which you pressed the hush button should be silenced – after all, you don’t want people to assume it was a false alarm if there really is a fire raging downstairs.

Interestingly, not all interconnecting smoke alarms hush in the same way. Here is an overview explaining the different approaches employed by the three main smoke alarm manufacturers in the UK.

Kidde Slick Wireless Smoke and Heat AlarmsFor Kidde smoke alarms, the originating alarm (the unit which detected a potential fire and triggered all of your units) will have its warning light flash faster than all other units while the alarm is sounding – enabling you to identify the smoke alarm that caused the alarm. Pressing the hush button on ANY unit will silence the ENTIRE network.

Ei160e Series Smoke and Heat AlarmsIf you have interlinking Ei Electronics smoke alarms, only the originating unit’s hush button will be able to silence the ENTIRE network. The other units in the circuit can be individually silenced. To identify the originating unit you need to look for the alarm whose warning light is flashing every second, compared to every 40 or so seconds on the other units.

FireAngel WST600 Series Radio-Interlinked Smoke and Heat AlarmsFireAngel smoke alarms, however, deploy an improved silencing protocol. If you hush the originating smoke alarm then, as with the other brands, ALL connected units will be silenced. However, if you hush any other unit, the ORIGINATING alarm will continue to sound but ALL OTHER units will be silenced. This allows you to quickly identify the originating alarm which is very helpful both in case of a false alarm or a real emergency.

If you require support selecting the best smoke alarm system for yourself, please contact the friendly Safelincs support team either by emailing support@safelincs.co.uk or by ringing 0800 612 6537

Chimney Fire Safety Week 2015

chimneyOver 7000 emergencies attended by the fire brigade during 2013/14 were classified as chimney fires in the annual fire statistics report. Poor chimney maintenance is a known cause of domestic fires, most chimney fires are preventable.

Chimney Fire Safety Week 2015 takes place from the 7th until the 13th of September this year. The event is intended to highlight the causes of chimney fires and emphasise how to prevent a chimney fire from occurring in the first place. The most common causes of chimney fires are inappropriately sized or poorly installed appliances, blocked chimneys from soot or bird nests and the burning of unseasoned or wet wood.

The best way to protect your home is to have your chimney swept regularly. The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps recommends that people burning wood or coal on a regular basis should have their chimney swept quarterly, whereas those burning smokeless fuel, oil or gas should aim to have their chimneys swept at least once a year.

Infrequent sweeping of your chimney significantly increases the risk of a fire, and the consequences can be devastating and costly. Even a successfully extinguished chimney fire creates a great deal of mess and is a traumatic experience.

Whilst having your chimney swept regularly will greatly reduce the risk of fire, it is still important to have a means of alerting your family in case fire strikes. Chimney fires are often reported as creating a disconcerting low rumbling noise accompanied by cracking and popping from within the chimney. If you are awake, these signs are often enough to alert you to the problem, but if you are asleep, your family are much more vulnerable.

An interconnected system of smoke alarms will quickly detect any smoke released as a result of the chimney fire and raise the alarm across your entire household. Speed of detection is key, as a swift escape and notification of the fire brigade will greatly reduce the danger to your family and damage to your property.

Your regular chimney maintenance and smoke detection system should also be supplemented by a carbon monoxide detector. Poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) is created by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, coal & oil. If working properly, your chimney will draw the carbon monoxide away with the smoke. However, if your chimney is partially blocked, carbon monoxide can seep out into your home rather than being drawn away. Carbon monoxide cannot be tasted or smelled and has dangerous health implications, leading to many deaths every year in the UK.

A house fire as a consequence of a poorly maintained chimney is a terrible thought, and should be enough to motivate anyone to take steps to protect their home from the risk. Having your chimney swept regularly, ensuring your smoke alarm system is in good order, and installing a carbon monoxide detector will ensure that you are giving your family the best possible chance of avoiding the dangers and trauma of a chimney fire.

For further information contact our customer support team via support@safelincs.co.uk

Do your children know what to do in the event of a fire?

Child Accident Prevention TrustSafelincs is engaging with Child Safety Week- an annual initiative promoted by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). This year’s event runs from 1st of June 2015 and is intended to raise awareness of general safety issues relating to children.

The organisers, CAPT, praise the event as a time when “an incredible range of professions and organisations, as well as families, carers and the media all do their bit to keep children safe from the pain of serious accidents.” They also proudly report that three quarters of parents engaging with Child Safety Week believe they have learnt something new, or plan to do something differently as a result of awareness gained from the campaign.

Safelincs’ field of expertise is fire safety. As such we would pose the question- do your children know what to do in the event of a fire? Nobody expects to be caught in a fire, and complacency can easily set in. If you have discussed fire safety with your children in the past, would they still remember that conversation in the event of an emergency?

You should always ensure your children recognise the sound of your smoke alarms, and that you have a family evacuation plan in place. Identify the safest route to escape from your property, and then consider what you would do if this route was blocked. Identifying a secondary escape route is incredibly important as fire is unpredictable.

Practice makes perfect, so once you have a plan run through it until you are sure everyone knows what to do. Also make sure to practice evacuation at night as well as during the day- fire can strike at any time.

Perhaps most importantly, test your smoke alarms. If your smoke alarms fail to sound in the event of a fire, all of your preparation has been in vain. Most fire related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than exposure to flames, with children being especially vulnerable. Raising the alarm quickly is absolutely vital. Make sure yours are working with regular tests.

We hope you will take our advice on board in the spirit of Child Safety Week. It is all too easy to panic when faced with an emergency. Take just a few minutes this week to familiarise your family with an escape plan.

Safelincs support CAPT; we donate £1 for a range of CO alarms sold.

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.

Supporting a great building society initiative

Market Harborough Building SocietySince 2008 Safelincs has been proud to support the Market Harborough Building Society (MHBS) with its initiative to send smoke alarms to every customer who takes out a mortgage.
MHBS is a mutual, owned by its 50,000 members. As a small building society it prides itself on a personal service so often missing from large financial institutions. Sending a smoke alarms to each mortgage holder demonstrates a customer focus that has helped keep it in business since 1870.
And it doesn’t end there. Every year thereafter a replacement battery is sent to ensure the smoke alarm continues to do its job.
Safelincs handles the entire process invisibly. Each smoke alarm is shipped directly to the customer in MHBS branded packaging with a covering letter. It also sends the replacement batteries.
MHBS sends an encoded database to Safelincs where it is held securely in memory storage off Safelincs own database. This keeps the mortgage holders information confidential and away from all other records.
“We are pleased to be partnered with Safelincs in whom we are assured of a professional service for our customers at all times,” commented Julie Mottram, customer support manager, MHBS.
“We are very happy to be associated with such a worthy initiative,” added Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs. “Over recent years casualties from fires have decreased, largely attributable to the increase in the number of homes that now have smoke alarms installed.”

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.)

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.

Landlords use Safelincs’ free reminder service to help maintain smoke alarms in good order

Landlords frequently install main smoke alarm systems to BS5839 part 6 grade D in their premises. These smoke alarms should be regularly tested to ensure that they are in good working condition. Visiting the tenant regularly is not really an option, so how can you ensure the tenant is testing the alarm? The solution is easy – When purchasing smoke alarms from Safelincs, the buyer can ask for emailed or texted reminders to be send to a chosen email address or mobile number. Just choose your preferred frequency of reminder and Safelincs will take care of the rest. This service and how the tenant should act on receipt of a reminder should then be mentioned in the tenancy agreement.

You can even register for this service without buying smoke alarms. Just register for free on our reminder page

Safelincs join forces with Fire Kills campaign

Safelincs are proud to announce that they have been invited to become a stakeholder in the Government’s Fire Kills campaign.

The most recent campaign delivered the message ‘Pull Your Finger Out’ to encourage people to check their smoke alarms more frequently.

To support this message in context with the relatively new online fire safety market, Safelincs will shortly be offering all their customers a free service to remind them when alarm batteries or smoke alarms are due for replacement. An additional weekly/monthly ‘have you checked your alarm’ reminder service will also be offered.

Safelincs offer a wide range of smoke alarms and a smoke alarm advice section is available.