Anglia Fire Assessments News
This year there have been two serious fires in care homes in England, we have to congratulate the fire service for their brave and untiring efforts in saving so many residents from the effects of these fires. Unfortunately persons did die in one of the fires despite the best efforts of the emergency services.
It appears from the news broadcasts that the fatal fire started in the roof space and spread throughout the building.
The second fire is believed to have started in a timber smoking shelter that was located adjacent to the outside of the building, it is good practice not to locate easily combustible structures within 6 to 10m of any building for this very reason.
A number of serious questions will be asked during the investigation phase of this tragedy that no doubt will be aired at some subsequent inquest or even a court case.
All Responsible Persons should not forget that they have a duty to ensure that fire cannot spread easily within a property and that there are adequate arrangements in place to be able to evacuate the occupiers without the aid of the Fire and Rescue Service.
The clue is in the name, it is the ‘rescue service and not the evacuation service’ as was once stated at a seminar that I attended on the very issue of evacuation.
Review your risk assessment and take care.
Once again we see that a building under refurbishment has suffered a devastating fire.
Whats so special about that you may ask?
This building in Glasgow famous for its architecture was badly damaged by fire just four years ago and now it and two neighbouring buildings have been severely damaged for a second time.
One has to ask what was learned from the first fire?
What procedures did they have in place to monitor the safety of the building and as they have just spent in the region of 30 million in the refurbishment
who is now going to pay for the rebuild for the second time?
When we train staff in fire safety we always state the ‘Contractors burn down buildings’, statistics show that any building where refurbishment is taking place is at a far greater risk than a normally used building.
Ensure that you have a robust fire safety management fire safety system in place to protect the business and its continuity. this also applies to homes ofcourse.
We have recently audited a number of schools, it was noted both by the audit and through discussion that some schools think it is acceptable to remove self closing devices from fire doors or to wedge them open to improve ventilation.
This of course prevents them from closing properly and in some cases not closing at all!
It is a requirement that escape routes from specific areas are protected by 30 minute fire resistant construction, this includes having effective fire doors to the correct standard.
During one audit we contacted the fire service and discussed the issue, they confirmed that fire doors should be maintained in an effective condition.
A simple thing such as an ineffective door may allow toxic smoke and fire gases to spread quickly and compromise an escape route.
Fires these days develop up to eight times faster than fifty years ago due to the modern materials that we all use, many of these are manufactured from petroleum based products and so burn like petrol when exposed to heat.
The provision of effective fire doors in any property is major player in the effective fire compartmentation of a building.
Remember that fire and smoke will kill you far quicker than any virus!
Recent government data has revealed that fatalities in fire-related incidents in England have reached their highest number in 20 years.
According to the data, published by the Home Office, 303 people died in fires in 2015-16, a 15% increase (39 people) on the previous 12 months. In the same period, fire services across England attended around 162,000 fires, which is an increase of 7,000 on the previous year.
The Home Office attributes the rise in the number of deaths to an increase in the number of accidental fires taking place in homes, as well as an increase in the number of fatal fires involving aircraft.
Fire services in Cambridgeshire and Cumbria had the highest fatality rates, with 25 deaths occurring for every 1,000 primary fires (the average for England as a whole was seven deaths per 1,000 fires).
A trading estate landlord from Keynsham has been ordered to pay almost £15,500 for breaching multiple regulations, including fire safety.
Allan Dykes pleaded guilty to five offences under the Building Regulations Act 2010, for which he was fined £13,000 by North Avon Magistrates’ Court on August 26. He must also pay a victim surcharge of £120 and £2,348 in costs to South Gloucestershire Council in relation to the violations at the Bridge Road trading estate in the Kingswood area of Bristol.
Fire safety in remote locations such as the Antarctic is vital as there is no normal fire service to be called upon.Anglia Fire Assessments is therefore pleased to record that Phillip Leeder MiFireE our senior consultant/trainer was asked to travel to this most remote region to carry out a fire risk assessment of Rothera which is the main Antarctic base for the British Antarctic Survey.
Rothera consists of a number of various risks from aircraft hangers to sleeping accommodation and Phillip also reviewed the general fire procedures and the use of breathing apparatus by the small fire crew that is formed from the workforce.
Phillip spent 10 days on this very interesting assignment and was very impressed by the standards displayed by all the staff that he worked with at the base.
The proposed amendments will be of most interest to those:
- involved in work within confined spaces;
- who employ or train such people;
- that represent them.
The HSE has produced a new definition emphasising that a confined space is both enclosed and has a specified risk. The new wording “Under these Regulations a ‘confined space’ must have both of the following defining features: it must be a space which is substantially (though not always entirely) enclosed; and one or more of the specified risks must be present or reasonably foreseeable” replaces “Under these Regulations a ‘confined space’ has two defining features. Firstly, it is a place which is substantially (though not always entirely) enclosed and, secondly, there will be a reasonably foreseeable risk of serious injury from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby”.
If you require your staff to be trained in the hazards and control measures applicable to confined spaces please give us a call. For course information click here.
A recent inspection of a domestic sized HIMO that is used for student accommodation in Norwich revealed a series of failings on behalf of both the landlord and the letting agency:
- No acceptable fire detection system.
- Three smoke alarms were fitted, two did not work, they were all battery operated and not interlinked.
- Several of the first floor windows did not meet the criteria for escape windows and as a result of that the property should have had fire doors to protect the escape from the first floor.
- There was in fact no door to the kitchen so any fire in the kitchen would have directly compromised the means of escape from the first floor.
- No first aid firefighting equipment and no fire instructions.
- No Portable Appliance Testing
- Most fatalities occur in house fires, HIMOs are a very high risk.
If you are responsible for fire safety in such properties think carefully, its no good having a nice carpet if the occupants are trapped upstairs and are dying!
Contact us for advice on your responsibilities, do not rely on a letting agency that does not understand the principles of fire safety.
The London Fire Brigade have issued a warning about the use of cheap ‘E cigarette’ chargers, many fires have been recorded as having been caused by these devices. Please be aware that if they are introduced into your workplace they may well cause the fire that puts you out of business.
Fridge freezers have also been highlighted as being a very potent fire hazard if a fault occurs, be sure to clean the rear of the freezer on a regular basis and do not position it in a place that may compromise your means of escape should it catch fire.
The continuing risk that LIPO batteries present should not be forgotten, treat them with care, do not let them get damp or overcharge them by using the wrong charger. Consider where you charge any LIPO battery and this means your phone as if it should go wrong then a small fire involving the battery can soon become a developing fire if it is close to an item that will burn easily.
I recently received photographs of a fire that started in a kitchen draw because loose batteries had come into contact with a conductor that caused a short circuit resulting in a fire within the draw.
Whilst in most cases fire detection systems are not required in the common areas,the basis of the fire safety management system is reliant on the standard of entrance door that each flat is provided with.
If you would like assistance to manage the fire safety in your premises please give Anglia Fire Assessments a call on 01603 872984
Your fire safety managment system should be robust and self reliant and your staff should be trained to be able to effectively operate emergency equipment or implement procedures that you have provided or established.
Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans or PEEP’s should be formulated for anyone that frequents your workplace.
Generic Emergency Evacuation Plans or GEEP’s should be formulated for members of the public.