Regular smoke alarm testing
Smoke alarms are essential for any home or business, but following a tragic incident in Derbyshire where 6 children died as a result of a fire in their home questions have been raised about the effectiveness of current smoke alarms, particularly for boys.
Following an investigation of the tragedy, Dave Coss, Watch Manager realised that the children aged between 5 and 13 simply had not heard the smoke alarm and had slept through the alarm with devastating consequences.
A small trial was conducted comprising 6 tests in the homes of 34 children between the ages of 2 and 13. The children were not given any information about the tests. Astonishingly 27 children did not wake when the alarms were activated, but the 7 children that did respond were all girls.
Rodney Mountain, from the University's School of Medicine, said: "Children’s hearing ability, brain function, sleep patterns and stage of brain development is very different to adults.
"We are programmed to respond to human voices warning of danger, such as a mother’s voice shouting to warn a child"
"Children are not born pre-programmed for our modern world of danger warning sounds from digital beeps and sirens – they have to learn, recognise and interpret these sounds."
Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, a forensic scientist at Dundee University said "Boys are especially hard to wake, and we think they will respond to a human voice."
Following this small trial a larger study is to be undertaken involving 500 families across the UK who have children between the ages of 2 and 16 to test a new prototype smoke alarm which operates at a lower pitch 520Hz as opposed to the standard current used of around 3,000Hz. The alarm also has a female voice warning everyone of the danger.
The Chief Fire Officers Association said it was "crucial" that people tested their smoke alarms regularly, adding: "As this research does indicate that some children may not wake to the sound of a smoke alarm, parents, guardians and responsible adults should ensure that they prepare an escape plan which must account for this. Children must be woken and evacuated as part of this plan."
If you would like more information on how to carry out your own fire risk assessment in Dorset, speak to an engaging local specialist who can advise you on the best products and action needed to protect your workforce and family.
The Care Quality Commission has closed a care home in Emsworth for failing to care for the safety of its residents and the owner fined almost £5000 by Worthing Magistrates.
The home had been advised by West Sussex Fire and Rescue service that its facilities were inadequate, particularly in regard to its fire doors and strategies for the safe removal of residents, especially those with mobility problems living on the first floor.
The fire service had worked with the home to encourage it to take the steps needed to comply with its recommendations. Despite their best efforts when the fire service were called in again by a safeguarding group they found no changes had been made and in fact the situation had deteriorated further.
The home was brought before Worthing Magistrates in June for failing to comply with enforcement and prohibition notices. The Owner Helen Green was ordered to pay £1,500 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice and £1,500 for failing to comply with a prohibition notice, preventing non-mobile residents living on the first floor. She was also ordered to pay £1,824 towards prosecution costs, along with a £120 surcharge. The magistrates said ‘this case is very serious and in the event of a fire the owner could have been facing manslaughter charges’.
Mark Hayter, Business fire safety station manager said: “We work with businesses across West Sussex to support compliance and provide safe places for people, especially the more vulnerable members of our community, however, when business owners fail to work with us, and place people in their care at risk, we will respond with the full legal force, as we have in this case.” To book your Fire risk assessment in Bournemouth call ASL today. Fire deaths, injuries and impacts
A recent press release by the team at Fire Door Safety Week revealed that it is a sad fact that every day in the UK an average of 25 people lose their lives as a result of fire, with more than 80% of these fires occurring in dwellings. In 2013-2014 there were over 39,139 fires in homes, and 260 people, lost their life.
Students and young people are more likely to be affected as they tend to ignore the risks. Statistics show that every year about 350 18-24 year olds are injured as a result of fire, normally started by cigarettes, smoking materials and candles. Shockingly over half of all deaths caused by fire happen during cooking or inappropriate use of electrical equipment. In 2012 there were 514 fires recorded in student accommodation in the UK.
Fire doors have huge part to play in the reduction of risk but are often badly fitted, poorly maintained and propped open. Landlords, Businesses, Hospitals, Schools and everyone who is providing accommodation or a workplace have a duty of care to their tenants and staff to provide a safe working or living environment. The old adage – it’ll never happen to us – simply isn’t true and everyone needs to take fire safety seriously. A fire risk assessment could not only save lives but could avoid a costly fine or even imprisonment. For more information on Fire Barriers in Dorset call 01202 565228.
Revision of policy for Fire Doors
The British Standard BS7273-4:2015 has recently been revised in collaboration with The Fire Industry Association (FIA), Fire Protection Association and National Landlords association. Bsi advise that ‘This is a full revision of the standard which applies to electrical control arrangements for actuation of mechanisms that unlock, release or open doors in the event of fire. It is essential to ensure that a building can be safely evacuated, where there are fire doors held open or exit doors that need to be released by the fire alarm system.’
Fire doors are normally designed to be kept closed at all times to contain fire and heat and restrict their spread. This is achieved through use of well-engineered fire doors. In certain circumstances it may be held open to facilitate convenience and/or accessibility around a building and in this situation the mechanisms to hold them open, should follow BS 7273-4.
Book your Fire Risk Assessment in Dorset to ensure your building complies with the latest changes.
Care Home Owners Prosecuted for Breach of Fire Regulations
Magistrates in Derby have found the owners of a care home for mentally ill and vulnerable people guilty for four breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, fining them £4,000 per offence, plus costs of £11,477 and a victim surcharge of £120 following a blaze at the Home in May 2013.
A fire had started in the bedroom of one of the residents on the first floor. It was discovered later that fire doors were wedged open and doors with self closing mechanisms had been disabled. Some of the fire doors didn’t fit properly, escape routes were blocked with furniture and by combustible furnishings, the escape lighting and fire alarm were not maintained. A recent Fire Risk Assessment had not been carried out.
Fortunately all the residents were evacuated safely and no one was hurt but Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service area manager Steve McLernon said: “If the fire had occurred a few hours later when the residents were asleep, the outcome could have been much worse.”
Fire Safety in Blocks of Flats
For the best safety, front doors to individual flats must be fire resistant and self-closing as this will help to keep fire and smoke from spreading into the corridors and communal areas. Easy access in times of fire is of the utmost importance, so fire resistance within the common areas must be constructed to allow residents safe passage to a safe. It is essential that corridors leading to stairways are built so as to enclose fire-resisting construction plenty of ventilation and need to be separated from common areas by fire resisting and self-closing doors. External stairways are required to be separate from the main building, and access to the stairways must be kept clear of smoke and this can be achieved through automatic opening vents, openable windows or in the case of enclosed staircases mechanical smoke ventilation.
Most blocks of flats are constructed for general public use, which means a cross section of the population including some with disabilities and the elderly, so for fire safety, provision must be made to allow all ages and abilities and a whole range of residents. Some flats are constructed purely for the elderly or infirm, so they need to service the needs of the particular section of society it services. It is much too difficult or impractical to attempt to retrospectively add effective fire safety provision for those with special evacuation needs.
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