fire

Vol. 1, Issue 35 (Mar 07) Fire at Home

We normally refer to the workplace in our regular NEWS BRIEF issues, for March 2007, we are to concentrate on the home.

If your smoke alarm went off in the middle of night what would you do? This assumes you have a smoke alarm – if not why not? Put together a plan of action for your home.

Take into account everyone in the house to include the children, other youngsters, elderly, the infirm and disabled, others staying overnight, the friends of the children and other family etc.

The best means of escape from you house, is the normal way in and out. You should know better than anyone which the best route is likely to be. Let everyone know where you keep the window and door locks – just in case.

If you are unable to escape due to a blockage it may be better to wait for the professionals. However, you should always keep blockages to a minimum whether it is at work, home, on the train or other public transport system.

Waiting for the professionals is very stressful, you consider pushing wet towels or wet bedding at the base of the base of the doors and protecting yourself within one area. When the professionals arrive, you should make your presence known.

You should choose the room in advance of a potential problem, knowing where and how to unlock the window and have as far as possible a telephone to contact the outside – in particular the emergency services. Open the window to allow you access to fresh air.

If you live in a block of flats and the stairs are obstructed by smoke or fire – DO NOT USE THE LIFTS. Stay calm and return to the inside of the flat etc. The design should keep the fire out, again use the wet towels or bedding and make yourself known to the professionals, open the windows to allow you access to fresh air.

You must fit smoke alarms on each floor level of your house/property. These must be tested or checked and inspected to ensure they operate on a regular basis – this could be weekly or more frequent, batteries may require replacing, they detectors may need cleaning to remove dust deposits.

If you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, your chances of surviving a fire are remote.

If your fitted smoke alarms keep operating – do not disconnect them – they are doing what they are intended to do. There may be some reason why they have been set off, so check the areas for signs i.e. smoking and the effects of smoking, cooking and cooking residuals etc.

You should switch off as many disused electrical appliances as you can when retiring for the night or when going out, the more items that can be switched of the lesser the load on the electrical services and the safer you will be. It might also assist you in reducing your energy bill!

Do not allow the youngsters to play with matches, lighters and candles.

Remove any cigarettes and ash trays, damp down with some water to ensure they are not still alight.

Put out candles properly, do not just blow them out, make sure they are out. Best thing is to put them out long before you retire for the evening.

As far as possible shut all doors when you go to bed, it can delay the spread and the effects of fire and smoke.

If the alarms sounds at night, do not just get up to see why, or where the fire might be coming from. Wake everyone up to alert them and then get everyone together to follow your fire safety plan.

If doors are warm, do not open them, they can be checked with the back of the hand – the fire could be contained behind the door.

If there is a lot of smoke, get near to the floor, crawl with you head as near to the floor as possible, the air will be clearer.

If you are on the ground floor, you should use the available windows to make your escape.

If glass has to be broken use towels or other thick materials to lessen the impact before you escape.

It may be possible to throw out bedding to break your fall, do not just jump out, lower yourself and then drop to the floor.

If you have family with you, plan who goes first, you may need to assist others with escaping to safety.

Do not return to the property, summons help, wake the neighbours, so they can call for the emergency services.

MAKE YOUR PLAN.

PRACTICE THE PLAN.

CHECK THE DETECTORS.

Fire at home

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Vol. 1, Issue 31 (Mar 06) FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

From 1st April 2006, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 will take effect. This will have impact on fire safety and controls within the workplace. It is intended to simplify regulations and enforcement.

The issue and use of the “Fire Certificate” is to be removed and the principle will be covered by your own management system after risk assessment.

The arrangements are to ensure that fire safety procedures are suitable and sufficient relevant to the risks at the workplace.

The requirement will place a duty on the “responsible person”, to make fire precautions for their employees and others- non-employees, visitors, contractors and the like.

The “responsible person” must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which persons would be exposed on the premises.

Provide adequate and suitable means for giving warning in the event of fire, for escape from a fire and for fire fighting. This must include any maintenance of fixed systems i.e. fire hose reels etc.

As with any risk assessment , control is relevant. Therefore storing of hazardous materials and hazardous works processes should be controlled in such a manner that the risks are reduced and managed.

Where procedures for serious and imminent danger exist (regulation 8 of the “Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations”) from hazardous processes are to be developed, practiced and implemented.

Where five or less are employed the risk assessment will not need to be written down or recorded, this may have any effect in a shared environment with small numbers of employees. Therefore we would recommend that you co-operate and co-ordinate with others (Regulation 11 of the “Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations”).

In completing the risk assessment you will need to have the following information available to you to make an informed decision, “understanding fire risks, materials likely to be affected (what is combustible), the hazards present in the workplace, existing control measures, the work activities (perceived risks higher in factories & warehouses etc, lower risk offices), and persons at risk (numbers of persons present, disabilities, learning difficulties etc).

The assessment must consider the means of escape, fire alarms systems, potential spread of fire (compartments), fire escape routes, fire doors etc, the management and maintenance of fire controls and procedures, evacuation drills, fire wardens and training of persons in when, how and what to do and where to go.

The “Fire Safety Order” will repeal several pieces of legislation, this includes and is not meant to record all repeals, “Fire Precautions Act 1971″, “Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 and 1999″.

A fire risk assessment could include and not be limited to the following: -

  • House-keeping practices and the knowledge of the occupiers of fire risks.
  • Storage of substances, the area, the access, what is stored, i.e. how flammable.
  • Fire alarm and fire detection systems, this may include fixed fire fighting systems such as hose reels, sprinklers and the like. The installation and maintenance and service of the services and systems installed.
  • Structural features of the facility, the design, partitioning, the existing fire prevention and fire spread construction.
  • Process and materials used and stored in connection with the process.
  • Maintenance and adequacy of the means of escape, the escape routes, the external fire stairs, the condition and where they go, i.e. no blockages etc.
  • The persons who use the premises, the vulnerable, the visitor, the contractors – How do they assist in the fire control of fire? Do you control them? Is there a system of permits.
  • The training of employees to include the existing staff, in what to do, the new starters the induction process and the routine.
  • Refresher training of fire wardens.
  • The emergency planning procedures for the location, existing and altered, do not forget, where you change the layout you could alter the procedure.
  • Is there a system to control the amounts of combustible materials and flammable liquids in the work place?
  • Is the electrical wiring inspected periodically by a competent person?
  • Are all items of portable equipment fitted with correctly rated fuses?
  • Is the upholstered furniture in good condition?
  • Is there a procedure for review of the fire risk assessment periodically?
  • Has a formal; report been prepared and shown to the staff or their representatives?
  • Are the fire safety provisions adequate or could they be improved?
  • If escape lighting is installed, is it working properly?
  • Is the escape lighting maintained regularly?
  • Is there an automatic fire alarm system?
  • Is the fire alarm in good working order?
  • Is the fire alarm tested weekly?
  • Are fire action notices prominently displayed throughout the workplace?
  • Is there an emergency plan in case of a major fire? Can the final exits be opened immediately without the use of a key?
  • Are the final exits from the premises always unlocked when the premises are in use?
  • Is there a designated smoking area provided with adequate ashtrays?
  • Are there measures to segregate areas of the building to prevent the spread of fire?

We would recommend that you give serious thought and consideration to have in place an “Business Continuity Plan”.

Send an e-mail and we will send you a draft plan.

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Vol. 1, Issue 19 (Mar 03) Thoughts on Fire!

We can all help prevent the spread of fire in the workplace, by the understanding of what is needed to produce a fire in the first place.

Should a fire break-out we can control the spread of fire by the removal of one of the elements of fire.

For a fire to start, three elements are necessary: -

  • FUEL Combustible materials that can either be a solid, liquid or gas.
  • HEAT Sufficient heat to raise the temperature of the fuel to a point where it vaporises and ignites.
  • AIR To provide oxygen to support the combustion process.

This is described as the ‘triangle of fire’

We can prevent a fire from occurring by keeping these elements apart. Should a fire start we can extinguish it by removing one of them and breaking the ‘triangle of fire’.

FUEL is removed by starving.
Remove the fuel source, close window, remove oxygen tanks or cylinders, paper, wood etc

HEAT is removed by cooling.
Fire extinguisher, hose reel etc.

AIR is removed by smothering.
Fire extinguisher, hose reel etc.

Fire Prevention.

Being aware of common causes of fire in the workplace and introduction of simple and effective routines for checking for dangers at any time can help.

Particular care is to be taken when leaving at the end of the working day this will reduce the risk of fires occurring.

The following inventory list gives common causes of fire, it is not meant. intended to be exhaustive. Things you found in your workplace should be added to your list.

Faulty electrical wiring, plugs, sockets and overload protection devices and circuits that are not suitably protected.

Electrical equipment left on when not in use, unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose.

Cooking and other comparable activities, poorly maintained and cleaned cookers, ventilation grilles, ducts and fans.

Poorly maintained and cleaned work equipment, this includes heating and air conditioning plant.

Smoking and careless disposal of smoking cigarettes materials.

Obstruction of ventilation grilles on various work equipment, leading to overheating.

Carelessness by contractors and other employed maintenance workers, lack of control of employed contractors.

Gathering of rubbish and waste products and other combustible materials.

Portable heaters not being used properly.

Overstocking and careless storage of flammable materials and substances.

Your workplace should have a fire routine, advising you and others what to do in the event of a fire. All should be familiar with the requirements of this fire routine.

To assist in the understanding and what the routines require and to be able to familiarise themselves with the means of escape, the fire drills, evacuation and practise, needs to be completed regularly.

Everyone located in the workplace should practice the fire drills and the fire routines and learn from those lessons and mistakes that can occur during the routine operation. It is very important that all members of staff, at whatever level and where appropriate other visitors or occupants give their full support at any time the practice is initiated.

Regular checks should include and not be limited to: -

Checking fire routine notices and exit signs are in place, are clear and are not damaged or defaced.
Checking fire exits and exit routes are clear and immediately available.
Checking fire doors are closed properly and are un-obstructed.
Checking fire extinguishers are in place and that they are not damaged or have been discharged and that they have been inspected within the required maintenance period.

If a fire breaks out

Make sure that the evacuation is completed orderly and calmly from the area.
Complete a room by room and / or floor by floor check of the workplace on the way out of the building, and closing, but not locking doors and windows where it safe and possible to do so.
Close down or shut off hazardous processes.
Where a fire has been discovered in your area, make sure the alarm has been sounded and the fire services called.
Report to the person in charge at the agreed assembly point, giving details of all persons accounted for and any persons not accounted for, following the safe evacuation.

Only tackle the fire if it is safe to do so.

We are able to provide safety seminars on fire awareness and training at the workplace.

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 news Comments Off

Vol. 1, Issue 6 (Dec 99) Fire Safety

Fire precautions legislation deals with general fire precautions.

  • Means of detection and giving warning in case of fire.
  • The provisions and means of escape.
  • Means of fighting fire.
  • Training staff in fire safety.

The fire regulations also include a requirement to complete an assessment of the risk from fires etc.

Many organisations should now be aware of the term risk assessment and know how to complete them. If help is needed contact us, details are over the page.

The risk assessment will help you to decide the nature and extent of the general and process fire precautions which you need to provide.

There are other legal duties that you need to be aware of:-

  • Where it is necessary to safeguard the safety of your employees, you must nominate persons to undertake any special roles which are required under your emergency plan.
  • You must consult your employees about the nomination of persons to complete roles in connection with fire safety and about proposals for improving fire precautions.
  • You must inform other employers who also have workplaces in your location of any significant risks which might affect the safety of their employees and co-operate with them about measures proposed to reduce/control risks.
  • If you are not an employer, but have control of premises which contain more than one workplace, you are responsible for ensuring compliance with relevant statutory provisions in the parts you have control.
  • You must establish a means of contacting the emergency services and ensuring that they are easily contacted.
  • Law requires your employer to co-operate with you to ensure the workplace is safe from fire and its effects, and not to do anything which will place themselves or others at risk.

For a fire to start, three things are needed.

  • A source of ignition.
  • Fuel, and
  • Oxygen.

If any one of these are missing, a fire cannot start. Taking steps to avoid these three things coming together, will therefore reduce the risk of fires starting.

Further information is given in the “Stationery Offices” publication ‘Fire Safety an Employers Guide’. Grove Services (UK) Ltd can advise and assist in risk assessments and staff training.

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 news Comments Off

Fire and Fire Precautions in the Workplace

We can complete fire risk assessment as required under the "Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005".

This includes the following stages:-

  • Hazard spotting.
  • Eliminate, control or avoid the risks.
  • Checks on existing fire provisions of services.
  • Combustible materials.
  • Persons at risk.
  • Means of escape.

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 services Comments Off