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Fire Safety Education in Croydon Pays off

Number of fires In Croydon falls by a quarter

Figures released recently by London Fire Brigade reveal that the number of fires in Croydon has fallen by over a quarter in the last 5 years.

These welcome statistics for local residents and business owners show, that joint efforts between the local community, emergency services and fire safety specialists to educate on preventing fires is paying off.

The Croydon Advertiser reported that between April 2014-15 there were 825 fires in the borough, which is significantly lower than figures from 2010-11, during which there were 1,145 fires reported.

Education is vital to reduce the risk of fires

David Landridge, LFB’s Croydon borough commander praised the efforts of those involved and commented that over the past few years ‘huge progress’ had been made in ‘educating people about the importance of fire safety.’

The story is very different from just four years ago in 2010-11 when Croydon was shamed for having the highest incidence of serious fires and arson in London, way above the capital’s average.

During this period, Croydon’s fire fighters were called out to 638 serious fires and 204 deliberate fires, which sparked the rethink in how to deal with the root causes of fires in the borough. LFB began holding a series of open days with the local community in an effort to educate on the causes of fires.

False alarms still more than double number of fires

In 2010-11 there were 118 malicious or hoax call outs to London Fire Brigade, recent figures from last year show this to have fallen to just 45.

Although the number of malicious false alarms is at an all-time low, still more has to be done to reduce this total, which more than doubles the number of actual fires. Again, education is the key to reducing false alarms.

Measures to tackle unnecessary fire brigade call outs

The top causes of non-malicious false alarms include human error, system errors, poor fire alarm maintenance and systems that automatically trigger call outs. Measures to reduce wasted calls have been taken by some fire services with some now no longer attending automatic call outs during the day unless a fire has been confirmed.

Persistent offenders have also been hit by hefty fines for unnecessary call outs, so it’s now more important than ever to ensure you have an appropriate fire alarm system installed on your premises, with proper maintenance so that faults do not cause false activations.

We can advise on appropriate fire alarm systems and management

Need to seek advice on fire alarm maintenance? Based in Croydon, Euro Fire Protection, provide complete fire alarm supply, installation and management.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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How to Store Flammable Substances Safely

Storing flammable substances safely is very important to reduce the risk of fires breaking out on your premises. If you are working with or regularly use substances that can be ignited easily, then here are some tips to ensure you are looking after them properly.

What are flammable substances?

To start with, let’s explain what flammable substances are. Take a look around. Chances are you encounter these on a daily basis. Flammable or combustible substances range from basic cleaning fluids and cooking oil to aerosols, fuel and gases such as propane.

The definition of a flammable substance is one that ignites or burns easily. These materials can be either in solid, liquid or gas form and are common in both domestic and commercial environments.

Clear labelling should be used to indicate those materials that are highly flammable. If you are storing a large volume of these substances, then you should make sure that appropriate hazard labelling is used in storage areas.

Why do fires start?

For a fire to start, there are three key ingredients that must be present – fuel, heat and oxygen. All it takes is a spark to start it off. So the key to preventing fires is to keep these components apart and away from ignition sources.

What are flash points?

All flammable liquids and gases have a flash point, which is a temperature that their vapour will ignite at, if exposed to a spark.

If you’re storing flammable liquids and gases, you should be aware of their flash point and make sure they are kept safely below this temperature.

Ventilate storage areas

If vapours from flammable liquids or gases escape and build up this can cause an explosion, therefore if you are storing large quantities of these, you’ll need to make sure there is a constant flow of air to diffuse any vapours.

Heat and ignition sources should not be present

Fires can start from something as simple as a tiny spark. Common ignition sources include electrical appliances, heaters, lights, naked flames and cigarettes. Effort should be made to keep ignition sources as far away from stores of flammables as possible.

If smoking is allowed on your premises, it’s best to enforce strict rules keeping smokers in certain specified areas, so that accidents do not occur.

Containers should be secure

Flammable liquids and gases should be stored in secure containers. Regular checks for damage should be carried out to minimize the risk of leaks. Canisters should be placed on a flat surface, ideally on the ground and kept upright. If a container shows signs of damage, including denting or bulging, it should be replaced immediately. Don’t attempt to repair or remove faulty valves or unless you are properly trained to do so.

Exchange for less flammable materials

The safest way to minimize the risks associated with flammable materials is to remove them all together, or replace with less dangerous substances. If you can’t avoid or replace substances, only store the amount you intend to use. Don’t stock up on flammables unnecessarily.

Separate storage areas

Keep storage locations for flammables away from areas where there are people, doors, exits, stairways and other means of escape. Ideally dangerous substances should be spread out, so that large quantities aren’t stored in one place.

Storing a large quantity of flammable substances?

In some environments it may be necessary to store large volumes of flammable substances. There are special guidelines for this. Containers must be kept securely, with emergency valves for metal tanks or containers. The volume of substance will dictate the most appropriate type of container.

  • 5 litres – glass
  • 25 litres – plastic or metal

Keep fire extinguishers near stores of flammables

Fire extinguishers should be located nearby places where flammables are stored. These should be visible and within easy reach if needed. As your first line of defence against fire, having extinguishers on hand can prevent a small fire getting out of control.

The type of fire extinguisher you require will depend on the type of fire that is most likely to occur. Generally dry powder extinguishers are good to have around flammables as they can tackle Class A, B and C fires.

Risk assessments

Inevitably when storing flammable substances, particularly large quantities in commercial and public environments, this will need to be identified in your fire risk assessment. You should outline, the steps that you will take to reduce the potential danger around the presence of these materials.

It’s highly recommended to have a full risk assessment carried out on your premises, particularly if you are storing substances that present a fire risk.

Storing flammables on your premises? We can provide advice and full fire risk assessments to protect you against the threat of fire.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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New Residential Fire Alarm Regulations

New legislation regarding smoke detectors in residential properties is being introduced by the government later this year.

From October 1st 2015 landlords will be expected to install working fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their properties or be faced with possible fines of up to £5,000.

Statistically, those in rented accommodation are less likely to have working smoke alarms installed, so the government are putting new measures in place to offer tenants greater protection. It’s estimated that the new regulations could prevent an estimated 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year in the United Kingdom.

What do landlords need to know about changes to fire alarm legislation?

If you’re a landlord, to comply with the new rules you’ll need to ensure that smoke detectors are installed on each story of your property. Although the exact placement of these isn’t specified, guidelines suggest that for maximum safety, detectors should be present in hallways, landings and sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide detectors will be required in areas where there is the highest risk for example in the kitchen area, with alarms placed in sleeping quarters so that occupants can be woken if asleep.

As landlord, you will be responsible for checking that fire alarm system is working correctly at the start of each tenancy, although regular testing is down to tenants.

Funding will be available from the government to support landlords in meeting the new requirements, with the Fire and Rescue authorities supplying smoke detectors free of charge.

Current fire regulations for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Houses with multiple occupants include:

  • Shared Flats/Houses
  • Bedsits
  • Hostels
  • Bed and breakfasts with long term occupants

In properties that are considered to be HMOs, landlords also have other additional fire safety responsibilities.

Fire risk assessments

To comply with the Fire Safety Order a full fire risk assessment of a house in multiple occupation must be carried out and documented by a professional. This is to identify fire risks and find measures to mitigate them throughout the property.

Fire escapes

Fire escapes should be able to resist fire for at least 30 minutes to allow occupants to exit a building safely. Escape routes should be kept clear in HMOs and it is the landlord’s responsibility to enforce this.

Fire resistant furnishings

In furnished properties, any furniture provided by the landlord must be fire resistant so that it does not catch fire easily. Modern upholstered furniture such as sofas and beds should be labelled, but it’s important to check that fire resistance standards are met by all furnishings. 

Fire safety equipment

To minimize damage in the event of a fire, basic fire-fighting equipment should be provided for tenants. This may be outlined in your property fire risk assessment, specifying the type of equipment that will be required and its positioning.

As a rough guide each floor should have its own fire extinguisher, which must be of the most appropriate type. Fire blankets should be installed in kitchen areas, away from the stove, so that they can be reached safely if pans catch fire.

Summary of fire safety advice for tenants

If you’re renting an HMO property and are concerned that it does not have adequate fire protection, in the first instance you raise this with your landlord, if possible in writing.

Your landlord should provide you with:

  • Working fire alarm system
  • Fire safety equipment
  • Adequate means of escape – which should be kept clear
  • Fire resistant furnishings (if furnished property)

Does your rental property comply with the new fire alarm regulations?

Are you a landlord and need information on the new fire alarm regulations for rental properties? Euro Fire Protection provides fire risk assessments and can install managed fire alarm systems in your property.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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Why Avoiding False Fire Alarms is so Important

London Fire Brigade has named the buildings in the capital that they received the most call outs for false alarms from last year.

Approximately a third of all 96,599 calls to the fire services over the past 12 months were false alarms, which works out at 1 every 15 minutes. Out of the top 10 locations revealed, 9 of these were hospitals, with St George’s Hospital in South London as the worst offender, having had 168 call outs as a result of false alarms in 2014.

Infographic showing LFB statistics on false alarm call outs

Charge for false fire brigade call outs

Since January 2014, London Fire Brigade has been charging for false alarm call outs with £295 fines handed out for the tenth false alarm at the same site and all subsequent timewasting calls after. It’s estimated that this has cost the NHS nearly £200,000 so far and although the number of false alarms resulting in actual call outs has fallen, more must be done to tackle the causes.

Top causes of false alarms

The fire brigade has been working to establish the main reasons behind false alarm activations. Findings show that 36% of incidents are resulting from fire alarm systems that automatically alert the fire services.

Activations can occur from something as trivial as smoke from burnt toast. Other top causes include steam, aerosol sprays, dust from building work and bugs nesting in detectors. Users are often responsible for causing false alarms too, via either accidental or malicious activation of call points.

Faults in the system, water leaks, poor alarm maintenance and even having the wrong type of fire alarm system in place from the start can also be ultimately responsible for unnecessary setting alarms off.

Why are false alarms so dangerous?

Put simply, false alarms can cost lives. Not only do they waste firefighter’s time and delay their attendance to real fires, they can also cause people to become complacent and not react upon hearing the fire alarm sound. Fatalities have been caused by people believing that it was ‘just another false alarm’ and failing to evacuate in the event of actual danger.

In locations, such as hospitals, schools and shopping centres where there are a large number of people on the premises, the threat becomes even greater. When a fire occurs, every second counts and any delay to evacuation can result in tragedy.

How can false fire alarms be prevented?

Reducing the number of false alarms is an important obligation for all organisations. Once the root causes have been established, then you can set about tackling them. Prevention may be as simple as putting plastic covers over fire call points, to stop accidental activation, or installing CCTV as a deterrent to pranksters.

Regular maintenance of fire alarm systems is also essential in fixing faults and stopping a build-up of dust on detectors from triggering the alarm. Your fire risk assessment should cover how often your alarms must be checked over.

Addressable fire alarm systems reduce false alarms

If false alarms are a regular occurrence, then perhaps installing an addressable fire alarm system on your premises would be advisable. The system allows ‘pre fire warnings’ that don’t ‘result in full activation, therefore if air in the detector is contaminated by dust for example, the staged warnings mean that you can investigate the issue before it causes a false alarm.

Need to reduce false fire alarms?

We can provide advice on fire alarm installation and maintenance to help you choose the most appropriate type of alarm system and maintenance plan.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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What are Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?

An addressable fire alarm system is made up of a series of fire detectors and devices that are connected back to a central control panel.

With addressable systems, each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area.

Advantages of addressable fire alarms

  • Quickly determine the location of a fire.
  • Specific actions can be programmed by the user.
  • Reduced likelihood and better handling of false alarms.
  • More reliability, less likely to lose connection.
  • Lower overall cost of wiring.
  • Ability to monitor integrity of the system, with detector health checks.

Fire alarm systems that can be programmed

One of the biggest advantages of addressable fire alarm systems is that they can be configured so that a specific action triggers a specific response.

For example, cause and effect programming can be used to say that a particular ‘cause’ such as activation of a fire detector, has the effect of alarms sounding in a specified area and the system being put on alert mode in another. This means that phased evacuation can take place, with priority areas evacuated first. Each area of a building can then be evacuated one at a time, which allows safer fire evacuation procedures in large buildings.

Reduce false fire alarms

False alarms cause disruption and can be costly, so it’s in any business’s interests to minimise their impact and reduce the likeliness of them occurring in the first place.

One of the advantages of addressable fire alarms is that they can allow air to be monitored through the detectors, so if air is contaminated for example with dust (which can activate some fire alarm systems) then a ‘pre-fire’ warning is triggered. This allows investigation to take place, so any issues can be rectified before a full scale false activation of the system takes place.

Addressable fire alarms are more reliable than conventional

Due to the way that addressable alarm systems are connected, any breaks in the circuit caused by damage are less likely to result in devices being disconnected. Unlike conventional systems, all devices are wired up on a loop and are connected to the panel unit at both ends. Therefore if connection breaks at one end, devices will still be connected.

Cost of wiring up alarm system is cheaper

Addressable fire alarms are wired on a loop, which is basically a circuit that connects the system to other devices such as sprinkler systems, call points and detectors. With conventional fire systems each zone and sounder circuit has its own wire, so the cost of wiring can potentially be higher, depending on how many devices need connecting up.

Monitoring and checking all individual fire detectors for faults

Fire alarms are arguably one of the most critical aspects of fire safety on your premises. Another benefit of addressable fire alarm systems is that all devices can be individually monitored and checked for faults, which makes maintenance easier. If an issue is found with a particular detector for example, then a notification will be received by the central control panel.

Having an addressable system therefore means that any problems can be discovered immediately so that they can be rectified, ensuring that everything is in good working order should an incident occur.

Do you need an addressable fire alarm?

This will depend on the requirements of your premises. Usually addressable fire alarms are more suited to larger commercial premises, as they provide accurate and detailed information as to the location of a fire, which isn’t necessary in smaller buildings.

These systems provide sophisticated fire protection, so therefore they do tend to be more expensive than conventional alarms overall. However if having a reliable method of alerting you to danger, that cuts down false alarms and allows for smooth evacuation is critical to your business, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Of course, the type of fire alarm system installed is important to get right and we’d strongly advise talking to a fire protection expert before making a decision.

Further advice and information

For advice on whether addressable fire alarms are the most appropriate choice to protect your business, contact Euro Fire Protection. We supply and install fire alarm systems across the UK.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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Top 3 Environments Most at Risk from Fire

When it comes to protecting your home or business from fire, different environments have different fire hazards associated with them, which will present different fire protection challenges.

All businesses should be aware of the level of risk that fire poses to them, so that they can adequately protect themselves against the threat of fire. Risk assessments play a crucial part in determining how at risk a particular environment is from fire.

But what are the environments or places that are most of risk of fire?

According to an IFSEC study, the following environments were found to have the biggest potential risk of a fire breaking out. We take a look at these areas and how to mitigate the fire risk.

Restaurants and Takeaways

Restaurants and takeaways came top on the list, which is not at all surprising when you think about the number of potential fire risks associated with them. Kitchen environments typically have an abundance of ignition materials, combined with naked flames and ovens. The fast paced nature of many restaurant kitchens also makes accidents more likely to occur due to basic human error.

Obviously restaurants in particular need to find ways of reducing the fire threat, as a busy restaurant filled with guests has the potential for a disaster waiting to happen. The fire risk in restaurant kitchens can be reduced by diligently following fire safety procedures and ensuring staff are trained in fire prevention. Basic measures, such as ensuring cooking oil is stored away from sources of heat and ignition also need to be put in place for safety.

If a fire does break out, having the appropriate fire extinguisher on site to put out a Class F fire is vital to tackle the fire early on before it gets out of control. All commercial kitchens should have wet chemical fire extinguishers installed, as these are specially designed to extinguish cooking oil and kitchen related fires.

Houses/Flats with Multiple Occupants and Rental Properties

Houses with multiple occupants such as rental properties, flats and complexes are another environment with a high fire threat. With more people living in a space, the potential fire risk increases. Each person may have their own electrical equipment and shared equipment may be less likely to be checked, as no single occupant is responsible for replacing damaged appliances and faulty wiring etc.

In terms of layout, multiple occupant properties are often more complex, making escape more difficult. For example there may be a single stairwell, which is the main evacuation route for all occupants. In the event of a fire, panic may ensue, so evacuation procedures need to be carefully managed to ensure everyone knows how to get out of the building safely and without worry.

It’s crucial for landlords/owners to provide guidance on fire safety in the property and ensure fire escapes are clearly marked with appropriate signage. Fire alarms should also be installed in each separate dwelling, communal areas and on every level to alert occupants to danger, giving them maximum time possible for escape.

Bars and Nightclubs

Another unsurprising inclusion on the list is bars and nightclubs. These places can often host a large volume of people in a relatively small space, which presents a big danger if a fire were to break out. Bars are particularly at risk from fire because alcohol is a highly flammable substance and having a large quantity of this stored on the premises obviously increases the fire threat.

Smoking is also another common cause of fire and although in the UK it is illegal to smoke inside bars, cigarettes can still potentially start fires if not disposed of properly and if not the no smoking policy is not strictly enforced so people only smoke in designated areas.

Emergency evacuation plans are crucial for bars and nightclubs. Bar staff should be well trained in fire safety procedures and what to do if a fire breaks out. Sadly there have been several high profile cases where fires in bars and nightclubs have resulted in loss of life, such as the 2013 fire in a Brazilian nightclub, in which 240 died as there were insufficient fire safety measures put in the place.

Why fire risk assessments are important

The best way to find out how you can protect your home or business from fire is to seek professional advice. Most fire protection companies will offer to do a risk assessment of your premises to identify fire hazards and recommend measures to reduce the fire threat. Regardless of the fire protection challenges your environment presents, safety must always be your top priority.

More information on reducing fire threat

Get a complete fire risk assessment of your premises today from Euro Fire Protection. We also provide a wide range of fire detection and protection equipment. Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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British Standards: Categories of Fire Detection Systems

What are the British Standards for?

The British Standards are an essential resource for those who design and install fire detection systems in commercial properties, as well as for local authorities, housing associations and the fire brigade. They outline the types of fire detection and alarm systems that should be installed in commercial buildings to give protection against fire.

These standards act as a guide to ensure fire alarm systems fulfil two key objectives – saving lives and protecting property. Due to the huge variety of applications for fire detection systems, the British Standards divides them into several different categories. Here’s a run through of the categories, the levels of system and what they mean.

Category M Fire Detection Systems

Alarms under this category are manual fire alarm systems where the alarm must be activated, for example by a person using a fire call point. These systems tend to be fairly basic and require a human to discover the fire and take action.

Category L Fire Detection Systems

Category L systems are automatic fire detection and alarm systems with the aim of protecting life. There are 5 levels within this category, each offering a different level of fire protection.

L1 – Earliest possible fire detection

Fire alarms should be installed throughout a building to provide the earliest possible warning. This is critical in commercial premises where there are many people present on site.

L2 – Fire detectors for defined areas

This level of protection requires alarms to be installed in defined parts of a building to give occupants as much time as possible to be evacuated, before escape routes become impassable due to smoke and flames.

L3 – Protecting paths to fire escape

Similarly to level 2, this level involves installing detectors in defined areas, the difference being with level 3 that fire detectors should be placed in rooms that open onto an escape route.

L4 – Protection of fire escape routes

Fire detectors should be placed along escape routes and in other circulation areas, such as corridors and stairways. The objective of this is to protect escape routes so that people can exit a building safely during the event of a fire.

L5 – Localised fire protection

In some buildings fire detection systems may be needed to satisfy a specific fire safety requirement. For example there may be an area where a fire would pose a high risk to the lives of occupants. Under these circumstances, detectors would be required in these locations whether this includes just one room or even entire section of a building.

Level 5 may be needed as an additional requirement to those mentioned under levels 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Category P Fire Detection Systems

Category P systems have the primary aim of protecting property from fire. There are 2 levels, which offer a different level of protection depending on the fire threat.

P1 – Complete fire protection for earliest possible warning

These detection systems offer the earliest possible fire warning. Detectors and alarms should be placed in all areas of a building, so that the moment a fire breaks out the fire brigade can be alerted to stop the spread of the fire and minimize damage to property.

P2 – Fire detectors for defined parts of a building

Where the threat to property and therefore business is high in particular areas of a building, more specific coverage may be needed. Areas with high fire risk, particularly where there are several fire hazards present will require special warning. This could refer to a single room but it can also be extended to cover the entire floor of a building.

Choosing the right fire alarm system to protect your premises

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. In order to find the most appropriate category and type of detection system for your premises – you need to look at your specific fire safety objectives.

Ask yourself; what are your primary fire safety objectives – protection of people or property? This will depend on your business, the people present on site and numerous other factors.

With something as critical as fire safety, it’s important to gain professional advice from a fire alarms specialist. A professional will be able to quickly assess your premises and provide recommendations on the type and level of system that you require. 

If you’re looking for expert advice on fire alarm systems, get in touch with Euro Fire Protection now on: 08000 515 199 

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Is a Conventional Fire Alarm System Right for Your Business?

Conventional fire alarms are the most basic type of fire detection system. They usually consist of several linked detectors, which are split into different zones – with each having its own circuit connecting multiple devices.

Conventional fire alarms are most appropriate for small businesses

Conventional fire detection systems are best suited to smaller businesses such as small offices, shops and restaurants. Larger premises or those with several different buildings spread out across one site will require a more complex and sophisticated system.

A good option for smaller budgets

One of the key considerations when deciding which alarm system to choose will obviously be your budget. In general, conventional fire panels, detectors and devices do tend to be the cheapest available, although there will be higher costs associated with installation. This is because all of the alarms in each zone have to be wired up, which will take time and more man hours to set up.

Once this has been completed however, the setup of the actual alarm system itself is fairly straightforward as unlike addressable systems, there is no configuration needed.

Wiring may be unsightly or unsuitable for some buildings

As conventional alarm systems require wiring, there are some situations where this may not be practical. Wiring can be unsightly and spoil the look of a building. This is a particular concern for listed buildings, as installing the cabling may cause disruption and damage to the fabric of the building.

How accurately do you need to pinpoint a fire’s location?

This is crucial in larger buildings as you need a way of quickly identifying where a fire has started, so the fire brigade can be informed. Conventional fire alarms can identify the zone that the alarm has been triggered in, although this is where they are limited. If your premises require a more accurate way of locating a fire, then analogue addressable fire systems would be more appropriate as these can track which detector picked up the fire.

How quickly does the alarm need to be raised?

In some larger buildings or where there are many people present within a confined area, it may be the case that the alarm needs to be raised very quickly so that evacuation can begin. If this is the case then standard smoke detectors which are zoned and incorporated into conventional systems may not be the most appropriate and the precision of addressable systems may be needed together with possibly even more advanced detection equipment.

Instead a special type of detector that can alert you to danger the exact moment a fire starts may be required. These are known as VESDAs (very early smoke detection apparatus) and are commonly found in public places such as cinemas, theatres and conference suites.

Not sure which type of fire alarm is best for your business?

If you’re not sure about which system would be the most appropriate for your premises, it’s important that you get an expert opinion. Fire safety is important and alarms play an essential role in protecting your workplace and your employees.

Get in touch with Euro Fire Protection for specialist advice on choosing fire alarms. We supply, install and maintain commercial fire detection systems, panels and devices across the UK. Call us now on: 08000 515 199.

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How to Prevent Fires Spreading

There are three main ingredients that a fire needs to keep it burning, fuel, oxygen and heat. Removing just one of these elements from the equation can stop a fire in its tracks. To do this safely and effectively you need to invest in fire protection.

There are two types of fire protection, active and passive. The initial aim of both is to slow down the speed at which a fire spreads, to protect property and save lives.

What is active fire protection?

Active fire protection comes into play when a fire has already started and involves systems and equipment to detect fires and fight them. Types of active fire protection include fire extinguishers, fire blankets and alarm systems. All of these methods however, require activation or operation, which is why they are considered active.

What is passive fire protection?

Passive fire protection on the other hand involves steps that can be taken to protect against fire before it breaks out. These include the design and structure of a building and how these can slow the spread of fire. The aim of passive fire protection is to keep a fire contained as much as possible, until help arrives to extinguish it.

Design and structure of a building can slow the spread of fire

Dividing up a building into different sections creates barriers that slow the speed at which flames spread. Each section should be sealed with a self-closing fire door that is activated automatically by the fire alarm being triggered. Special door and window frame seals that are activated by heat can help prevent smoke getting through openings, giving more time to people inside a burning building.

Flammables should be stored properly

If you are storing flammable materials on you site, particularly liquids and gases, then these must be kept in suitable containers in a designated safe area. Flammables can cause explosions, which rapidly accelerate the spread of a fire, so it’s important to follow strict guidelines regarding their storage and proper use.

Have the right firefighting equipment on site

It’s always a good idea to have basic equipment such as fire extinguishers on site so that you can stop fires if they are detected early on. Care must be taken however to ensure that the right types of extinguishers are placed in the right areas and that the people using them have the correct knowledge to enable them to operate them safely.

All fire extinguishers should also be maintained on an annual basis to ensure that they are kept in working order, so that they are ready if needed.

Fire alarm systems need to be installed

Of course it goes without saying that in a fire, every second counts. Having an appropriate system to detect and alert you to a fire is essential. As soon as the alarm has been raised, the fire brigade can be notified and the fire can be tackled quickly. Without some form of fire detection system, a fire can rage on uncontained, causing widespread damage to property and potentially put lives at risk.

How effective is your business’s fire protection? For a complete fire risk assessment from our fully qualified and accredited fire specialists call Euro Fire Protection now on: 08000 515 199.

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5 Common Fire Hazards in the Office

Fires in the workplace can have a devastating impact on businesses. The potential loss of data and even lives can mean that some organisations never recover from a fire. Office environments provide numerous fire risks and if a fire starts, it will spread very quickly if there are no fire protection systems in place.

Minimising the risk of office fires and trying to prevent them is very important. The first stage is to identify the key fire risks associated with this particular environment. Here are five of the most common office fire safety issues and how you can take steps to protect your business.

Damaged power cords can result in fires

Offices typically have a whole host of electrical equipment including computers, monitors, photocopiers, printers, lamps, kettles and other appliances. Over time electrical wire casing can become damaged and worn exposing the wiring inside. This carries the risk of electric shock as well as sparks, which can catch onto flammable materials and start a fire.

To reduce the risk of a fire starting due to damaged cabling, the wiring for all electrical equipment should be inspected on a regular basis and replaced if it is becoming worn.

Combustible materials present in the office

One of the reasons that fires spread so quickly in offices is due to the abundance of combustible materials. Loose paper, discarded packaging, waste bins and furnishings provide plenty of fuel for fires. Add into the mix highly flammable adhesives and aerosols and it’s clear to see why offices fires can quickly become so devastating.

Although the risk created by these materials cannot be completely removed as many of these items are necessary in the workplace, it can be significantly reduced by taking steps to keep the office tidy and free from paper and packaging.

Any waste should be collected regularly and stored securely outside the building so it is not allowed to build up. Where possible, a clean desk policy should be adopted and papers stored away in filing cabinets unless they are needed.

Care should be taken when using flammable liquids and aerosols. Staff should be made aware of the potential danger and safe usage. If possible, usage should be restricted to a separate room and these materials should be kept away from sources of heat at all times.

Soft furnishings such as sofas are becoming more common in offices. These are often made of flammable fabrics, which can burn rapidly. When choosing furniture for your office ensure it is compliant with legislation on fire resistant materials and manufacture. This also applies to desks, as there are now many fireproof desks on the market and opting for these reduces the amount of flammable materials in your office.

If a fire does break out, having an appropriate type of fire extinguisher on site is essential to catch fires early on before they get the chance to spread.

Blocked walkways and fire escapes can delay evacuation in a fire

It’s essential that all office corridors and walkways are kept clear so that access to fire escapes is not restricted, which could delay the evacuation of a building. Furniture, waste and other objects must not be placed close to or in front of fire doors, as these must be easily accessed at all times.

Staff vigilance is a must to ensure that these safety guidelines are followed and proper training should be given to educate employees on their role in preventing and reporting fire hazards.

Extension leads overheating present a threat of fire

Improper use of extension leads carries a risk of electric shock and fire. Overloading electrical sockets can cause them to overheat and burst into flames. For this reason extension leads should only be used if necessary. Attention should be paid to ensure that these are evenly distributed and that not too many appliances are plugged in and in use at once.

As with all electrical equipment, extensions should be bought from reputable suppliers to guarantee that they are safe for use. If you suspect that an extension lead is faulty or is overheating, you should stop using it immediately.

Fire dangers of computer equipment and laptops

Computers play a fundamental role in the majority of modern offices. Generally speaking, they are considered to be very safe and not present much of a fire risk. However there are a few fire safety considerations associated with the use of computers and measures that you can take to protect your office.

The main issue is due to the heat that computers produce and the potential for overheating. Although there are mechanisms built into computers to cool them down, these can fail. Therefore you should make sure that papers and other combustibles are kept at distance from monitors and CPUs so that they are not ignited.

Laptops can also present an issue if they are placed on soft surfaces (such as the office sofa) for a long period of time. This is because the cooling vents are usually based on the bottom of the laptop and blocking these means that the laptop is more likely to overheat. For this reason laptops should only be used on hard surfaces such as desks and breathing space allowed so the cooling systems can work properly.  

All employees should be instructed to turn computers and monitors off when they leave the office at the end of the day. This reduces the risk of a fire starting in the office after hours when there are less likely to be people around to raise the alarm.

Fire Risk Assessments are essential to preventing office fires

All offices and workplaces are unique, so it’s important to have a proper risk assessment on your premises to establish the potential for fire to break out and how to combat this.

Euro Fire Protection are fire protection specialists and can provide a full fire risk assessment  for your business premises. Call now on 08000 515 199.

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