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(October 2012)

Fire Blankets

Fire blankets are in common use in kitchen areas and areas where people are in close proximity to naked flames. They still have the unique ability to be the most effective device for putting out a fire on a person whose clothes are alight. Fire blankets also are one of the most rapid and easily accessible suppression devices requiring just a low level of training. Simply pulling the tabs and spreading the blanket over the fire is normally good enough in most situations. This makes them ideally suitable for kitchen areas. With fire extinguishers there will always be a particular set of problems with which particular fuel the fire burns on and areas that you may be working in. For example co2 extinguishers and powder extinguishers are not recommended for use in confined areas because of associated breathing problems for the user. A co2 extinguisher will effectively replace oxygen with carbon dioxide and the powder from a powder extinguisher is not something you really want to be breathing in. What else is a consideration when matching fire extinguishers versus fire blankets? Clean up problems after a fire are also to be considered. Powder extinguishers, foam extinguishers and water extinguishers will of course discharge their contents and therefore will present associated problems. Much is to be considered when strategically placing your fire extinguishers around your working area but the simple but effective fire blanket is a very useful addition to your armoury when tackling fire. And here in essence is the crux of this blog. I am not suggesting replacing extinguishers with fire blankets but rather to ADD them to the protective arsenal that you would have already assembled. In my honest and humble opinion, I see all the highly developed advanced suppression systems and there will always be room for the humble fire blanket as far as I’m concerned.

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Fire Risk Assessments

(October 2012)

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A Fire Risk Assessment is an organized and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried out and the likelihood that a fire could break out and cause harm to those in and around the premises.
Fire Risk Assessments are part of the Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 which came into effect in October 2006. Since then all companies must have a Fire Risk Assessment carried out. The responsibility lies with the company or persons who have control of the premises. The assessment document should assess the fire risks to the property and the people who work and visit the premises. Fire Officers do carry out thousands of spot checks every year and prosecutions are not unusual. For more information you can go to info4fire.com.
How is a Fire Risk Assessment carried out.
There are 5 key steps to a Fire Risk Assessment:
1. Identify fire hazards: sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
2. Identify people at risk: people in and around the premises and vulnerable persons.
3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk : detection and warning, fire fighting, escape, lighting ,signs and maintenance.
4. Record, plan, instruct and train: record findings and action taken, prepare an emergency plan, and train relevant people.
5. Review: keep an assessment under review and revise where necessary.
To carry out a Fire Risk assessment yourself why not use our simple easy to use CD or Download from our online store under Fire Risk Assessments. Don't risk it and leave it to chance, you can be up to date and legal sooner than you think.

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(October 2012)

The Importance of Fire Extinguishers

I probably visit around 30 companies a day in the Greater London area and I am constantly amazed at the inappropriate lack of suppression equipment they have available to them. More shocking probably is the lack of knowledge regarding Fire Extinguishers. Many companies do not know that they need them in the first place, what type of extinguisher they would need to cover their risks and where they would be located. I guess somewhere in all of this is still that “It won’t happen to us” mentality. If fires were occurring constantly in the neighbourhood then this would put the consideration of fire protection to the front of their thinking. Unfortunately, hindsight in disasters is 20/20 and like so many future-and -with-hindsight decisions, should an opportunity arise to start another business (unlikely in many cases) then fire extinguishers would be their first consideration.

Firstly, all companies have a responsibility to provide the right amount of suppression equipment to cover the risks that they bring to any building. This is not something that a landlord or managing agents have to provide. Even if extinguishers are present in communal areas the tenant is not covered. Fire extinguishers have to be strategically located in highly visible areas and within easy reach. Most offices will cover their wood, paper and textile risks with a water extinguisher or a water plus additive extinguisher. For their live electrical risks a co2 extinguisher will be required. Certain equations are available for how many you would require but the basics are that as long as you have these units in close and available proximity you are covered. Larger premises of course will require more. Extinguishers with signs are commonly placed at Main entrances and Fire exits or in corridors where long distances exist between fire points. In certain applications foam extinguishers and wet chemical extinguishers are required and these are more commonly found in kitchens.
So what about the training of staff? The truth remains that although training in the use of extinguishers is fairly simple, the amount of staff that have actually undergone any training is alarmingly and dangerously small. So here is this vital piece of equipment that you have purchased, it could save lives, save your business and your neighbours and nobody knows how to use it!!! Far too common a situation I’m afraid to say. Depending on the attitude of a person I’m chatting with, my argument for having fire extinguishers will resonate in one or more of three ways. Legally of course, fire officers can issue enforcement notices in the case of not having enough suppression equipment. Secondly, companies claiming on their policies for fire damage can find themselves in a whole heap of trouble as loss-adjusters come calling to investigate that a company did everything they could to prevent the spread of the blaze. And thirdly, why do we bother with all this regulation in the first place? To prevent human tragedy of course. Can you imagine a worker getting hurt (or worse) in a fire? The boss of the company has a lawsuit against him from an injured employee. Neighbours to the business look to sue for damages for taking no precautions. The Fire service look to prosecute and possibly push for a prison sentence and finally the insurance company inform the boss that his claim has been cancelled because he did not comply with the terms of his policy. Believe me, this has happened. Jail sentences and lost businesses are the cost of gambling in this high stakes game. And for what? Pricing for extinguishers on this website is as low as anything you’ll see anywhere and pails to insignificance when stacked up against the protection of a business and human life. Whats the message when all is said and done? Research your law and your fire safety requirements, get help if necessary, install the equipment you need and make your premises and staff and visitors that much safer. WHY TAKE A CHANCE?

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(September 2012)

Fire Doors

Building design and fire retardant materials have come a long way in the last 50 years. The fire service of the 1960s would mainly focus on a building fire not spreading to other buildings but often, the building they were called to in order to extinguish the fire, was as good as destroyed already. Now architects, aided by state of the art retardant materials give todays firefighters every chance just to tackle a blaze in a compartment of a building. This can mean that just not only is the rest of building at less of a risk for its occupants but the disruption to operations can be minimal and often a company can continue its functionality to a high degree.

The key to it starts with design and modern buildings now are compartmentalised with containment areas sealed off by thicker firewalls and firedoor sets. Sealing devices at service cables and damper devices in service rooms are now greatly evolved. If used effectively a compartment could burn up to 2 hours without affecting the neighbouring compartment…..what an advantage. How crucial this is in places like hospitals where not only transporting a lot of patients to muster points would be a logistical nightmare, but could indeed threaten the infirm to a higher degree. Commonly hospitals employ a linear evacuation, moving patients from compartment to compartment until the fire service are able to extinguish the fire.
So with such innovative designs and products it continues to infuriate all of us concerned with fire safety about the casual manner in which these vital services are ignored. Fire doors wedged open or held open with fire extinguishers. Mods that have compromised the effectiveness of the fire seals or doors. Repairs and maintenance neglected. These common sights are as infuriating as they are common and are so easily avoided with a little presence of mind and care. Everyone would agree that smoke billowing into a fire escape and a mushrooming cloud of toxic gas descending from the top of the staircase is a dangerous thing. Crowds trying to escape from the top floor that are confronted with a smoke filled egress route will create pure panic and make breathing difficult if not impossible. So lets not have too much of the “Its difficult keeping a fire door closed”.