Keeping businesses safe from fire

Now is the time when businesses start recruiting temporary staff to cover the winter seasonal peak. It is important that fire safety knowledge is a key part of their initial training, so they are able keep themselves and colleagues safe. It’s also a good time to remind permanent members of staff of the steps needed to protect themselves, their customers and colleagues. Similarly, the hospitality industry will already be taking bookings for Christmas parties and events. In short there is a potential for more staff, more stock and more customers.

Recently the CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association) promoted its Business Strategy Week. The aim of the week was to help businesses reduce their risk of fire – protecting their staff, buildings and resources in preparation for the coming months.
The focus of the week was centred on promoting a high level of fire risk awareness and fire safety advice to staff across a broad range of business types. The key message of the campaign was ‘Keeping it Simple‘ – with a safety message for each initial letter:
Store stock safely: keep corridors, stairs and exits clear
Identify alarm points so you can warn others
Make sure doors are closed to stop fires from spreading
Place things that catch fire away from things that cause fire
Let someone know if you spot fire safety problems
Ensure everyone knows what to do if a fire alarm sounds

Over the ten years from 2003/04 to 2013/14, there were:
• 11,156 fires in retail and vehicle trade premises resulting in 378 casualties, including 12 fatalities
• 8,837 fires in recreational and other cultural services resulting in 115 casualties, including 3 fatalities
• 5,041 fires in restaurants, cafes, pubs, etc. resulting in 270 casualties, including 5 fatalities
• 4,208 fires in schools resulting in 129 casualties
• 3,648 fires in hospitals and healthcare resulting in 412 casualties, including 4 fatalities
• 2,823 fires in industrial premises resulting in 102 casualties, including 1 fatality
• 1,846 fires in hotels, boarding houses, hostels, etc. resulting in 172 casualties, including 4 fatalities
• 924 fires in FE (Further Education), HE (Higher Education) and pre-schools resulting in 19 casualties
In 2013/14 alone, there were:
• 2,139 fires in industrial premises
• 5,561 fires in commercial/retail
• 1,898 fires in schools, higher/further education and health/hospital premises

CFOA Home Safety Week 2015

Chief Fire Officers AssociationThe CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association) Home Safety Campaign this year runs from 28th September until 4th October and focuses on older people and winter fire safety, whilst helping to support the broader health agenda by reducing the estimated 30,000 preventable deaths that occur during the winter period. It coincides with Older People’s Day which takes place on 1st October.

The CFOA produces a toolkit for fire services around the country to support them in helping reduce preventable fire deaths in England. Annually, around 670,000 Home Safety Assessments, or Safe and Well visits as they are now becoming known as, are delivered by fire and rescue services, the majority of which are targeted at people aged 65 or over.

Statistics between April 2013 and March 2014 show that of the 380 fire deaths in Great Britain 178 (47%) were among people aged 60 and above and that those over the age of 80 are ten times more likely to die in a fire than someone aged 30 or under.

Earlier this year Representatives from NHS England, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and CFOA met to agree to develop a new working relationship, with a common aim to improve the quality of life for those who could most benefit from Safe and Well visits. Fire services now have access to the NHS Exeter system and relevant data on nine million people over the age of 65, to help identify and target prevention to individuals most at risk.

Fire services will use activities taking place during the Home Safety Week to also help reduce the overall number of excess winter deaths. For the winter of 2015/16, the NHS estimate the number of winter deaths will be around 30,000, with a bias towards females over 65 years of age. The main causes for the over 65s are due to: influenza and chest conditions; cold housing; and loneliness and isolation.
Therefore the CFOA and fire services have been asked by their partners in health to support work to address excess winter deaths through expanded Safe and Well visits.

Stub it out

Stub it OutMore people die in fires in the home caused by cigarettes and smoking products than from any other cause of fire. In England in 2013-14, accidental fires resulting from smokers’ materials made up 38% of all fatalities in the home (68 out of 181). In addition, a further 3% (6) were from accidental fires started by cigarette lighters and matches.

These simple steps can help prevent a cigarette fire in the home:

• Put it right out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished
• Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight
• Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.
• Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down
• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn – never use a waste paper basket
• Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999

You may also want to encourage people to smoke outside in the first instance to reduce the risk of smoking when tired or leaving cigarettes unattended. However, this should be followed by the ‘Put it right out’ message.

Of course the best way to prevent a smoker suffering a smoking related fire is to persuade them to stop smoking!

The dangers of carbon monoxide

Fire Angel Carbon Monoxide DetectorIn January this year a husband and wife were found dead at a caravan park in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is believed that the couple, in their seventies, died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tragedies like this are a reminder of the importance of installing carbon monoxide alarms, not only in homes but in caravans, mobile homes and boats. In January 2014, two young fishermen perished, in similar circumstances, on a trawler moored in Whitby Harbour, North Yorkshire.

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms should be an essential purchase for every householder; prices start from well under £20. (special portable, battery powered CO alarms are available for camping, caravanning and travelling.)

Domestic dangers include fumes that can arise from central heating boilers that have not been regularly serviced and chimneys that have not been swept. There have even been instances where fumes have leaked from adjoining properties, so there is a strong case for every home to install a detection device.

Out of doors, barbeques give out carbon monoxide fumes. Tests have discovered that they actually emit more fumes when are cooling than they do when cooking. This is why they should NEVER be taken inside a tent to warm it up.

Carbon Monoxide detectors measure CO levels in the atmosphere. The device will sound an alarm to warn you if fumes are detected. Should this happen, turn off any appliances or other sources of combustion at once and evacuate the building. Get fresh air into the premises by opening doors and windows and call a qualified technician to have the problem fixed before restarting appliances. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, vomiting, they should seek medical advice immediately. (Note: these symptoms can easily be confused with those of influenza.)

For more information about carbon monoxide go to www.carbonmonoxideinfo.co.uk

Last fire safety promotion before the General Election

Once again the Government’s fire safety campaign, Fire Kills, will be promoting its message for home owners and tenants alike to test their smoke alarms when the clocks changes at the end of March. The message TICK TOCK TEST encourages people to use the adjusting of their clocks and watches to act as an aide memoire for testing their smoke alarms.

In 2013-14 there were 322 fire-related deaths in Great Britain. Dwellings with no smoke alarm accounted for 38% of these deaths, and nearly one fifth of deaths occurred where no smoke alarm worked. So it is important that Fire Kills’ messages are heeded.

It will be the last campaign until after the General Election in May. This is because six weeks before an election all government departments go into a period of purdah; no external activities can take place as they could be seen as prejudicial to the political parties’ election campaigns.

On this occasion, purdah commences on Monday 30th March – the day after the clocks go forward. After this, the Fire Kills team restricts itself to planning activities, awaiting the outcome of the election and pondering what the next administration’s approach to fire safety will be.

We are hopeful hat the next government will be determined to push the fire safety message to save lives.
Firekills

P50 – the way ahead for fire extinguishers

The most expensive element of equipping a building with fire extinguishers is not their initial cost, but the ongoing expense of ensuring that they are regularly maintained; if they are called into action they must function correctly.

Traditional fire extinguishers need to be serviced annually and refilled usually every five years. In places of work and public buildings not maintaining extinguishers would contravene the law. In addition, most fire extinguishers are guaranteed for no more than five years and should usually be replaced after ten.

For companies and organisations this can be a very expensive undertaking.

Now there is an extinguisher that overcomes these issues. The unique characteristics of the P50 can save organisations thousands of pounds. Unlike other extinguishers, the main casing is constructed using a super-strength composite material that will not rust or corrode. This protects the contents and has the following benefits:

• Just an annual check by a member of staff is all is that required – no expensive servicing from an external engineer
• No need for refilling after five years
• A ten year guarantee
• After ten years the unit can be refurbished to give another ten years (service- free) life.
• When the unit finally comes to the end of its life it is 100% recyclable
• Accepted by insurance companies

Businesses as diverse as insurances, schools, district councils, churches and colleges and many individuals have installed P50s and are reaping the financial benefits.

The P50 was awarded the APEA (Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration) 2014 Health and Safety Performance Award. Its non-corrosive characteristic has enabled it to obtain official acceptance from the Boat Safety Scheme. The British Institute of Facilities Management described it as a ‘game-changing product’.

The 6 litre P50 is available in foam and powder versions from Blue Watch for £110 (ex VAT), including delivery.

To have the P50 installed the all-in cost in £149 (ex VAT). The engineer will also advise on where best to site each unit to give maximum cover.
Britannia P50 Fire Extinguishers

Looking out for older friends and relatives

Elderly CoupleIt’s a sad fact that, on average, two people over the age of 65 perish in house fires every week; the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages.

One of the main ways that the senior members of society can be safeguarded is by relatives and friends ensuring that they have working smoke alarms and that they are regularly tested. Mains alarms or those with a ten year battery are strongly recommended.

As people get older they can suffer from poor mobility, poor sense of smell and a reduced tolerance to smoke and burns. Sensible precautions, which apply to everybody, are particularly pertinent to the elderly. These include:

• taking care with smoking materials and avoiding smoking in bed
• fitting a fireguard around an open fire
• using electric blankets correctly and having them checked regularly
• not drying clothes on fireguards, cookers or heaters
• not leaving candles unattended
• remaining alert when cooking

Public Service Websites

Safelincs, who operate the Blue Watch Shop on behalf of the CFOA, has built a strong reputation for its responsible approach to fire safety. As well as a wealth of information on its own website, it operates a number of non-commercial sites offering independent safety advice. These include:

www.firescout.co.uk This site was created for members of the public to publish photographs of any bad safety practice they have encountered. It could be: a blocked fire exit, a fire extinguisher being used to prop open a fire door, an overloaded electric socket, a smoke alarm with its battery removed.
Seeing a bad example is a very powerful way of getting a message across. Professional comments are added to each picture along with the estimated cost to put things right (often nothing) and whether or not the transgression would result in a fine. There is no attempt to name and shame; all locations remain anonymous.

• www.carbonmonoxideinfo.co.uk Everything you need to know about this deadly gas can be found here. Between 40 and 50 people die in the UK each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. (The exact number is difficult to ascertain as fatalities amongst elder people can be attributed to natural causes.) This site provides a range of information including prevention – the importance of having appliances serviced, detection, symptoms of poisoning and real life stories.

Firescout

Blue Watch comes to Safelincs

Safelincs is honoured to be chosen by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to host its newly-launched online store. ‘Blue Watch Shop’ has been established to help house owners, tenants and landlords to find the right fire safety products to improve the safety of their accommodations. The profits generated will support CFOA’s fire safety promotions.

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

Is Fire Safety your New Year’s Resolution?

January 1st sees thousands of people throughout the UK setting the challenge to lose weight, save money, train for a marathon and several other acts to help benefit themselves and their family throughout the year. Unfortunately, increasing one’s fire safety in the home is not on the top 10 list for New Year’s Resolutions, despite how simple changes can mean the difference between life and death.

Heard of the saying “prevention is better than cure”? The following tips can help prevent a fire from occurring in your home:

  1. If you light candles, never leave them unattended
  2. Take care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended – over 50% of accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen!
  3. Keep matches, lit candles and lighters away from children
  4. Received some great gadgets for Christmas? Remember not to overload electrical sockets, and keep a look out for over-heating equipment and cables
  5. If quitting smoking isn’t on your resolution list, make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly and disposed of carefully. Never smoke in bed.
  6. Heard of the fire triangle – oxygen+fuel+heat = fire. Keep clothing away from heating appliances
  7. Take extra care when you have been drinking or when you’re tired – drinking alcohol increases the risk of fire and reduces your ability to respond

Preventing a fire is the best way to ensure your family’s safety; however, it is also important to plan ahead and know what to do in the event of a fire. Be prepared with these easy to follow fire safety plans:

  1. Fit smoke alarms – these lifesaving devices detect a fire as well as warn you of danger
  2. Get into a routine to test your smoke alarms. They will only work if you maintain them! Safelincs offers a FREE smoke alarm reminder service for regular testing and yearly battery changing
  3. Have fun with the family and create a fire action plan for your home. Practicing the fire action plan ensures everyone in the house knows what to do and how to escape in the event of a fire
  4. Need a fire extinguisher as part of your action plan? Bluewatch provides maintenance free fire extinguishers that can be used on most fires.
  5. Emphasise the importance to get out and stay out. Do not re-enter a burning building and call 999 from a safe area outside the home

Almost 80% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolution. Don’t let fire safety be part of this statistic.

Fire safety is not just for January – it’s for life!