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“Protect your business by being proactive” – Q&A with Darren Young

“Protect your business by being proactive” – Q&A with Darren Young

For Fire Door Safety Week 2020, we contacted Darren Young Managing Director at 1st Aid Fire to discuss all things fire doors!

Darren has worked in the fire industry for over 30 years. He followed in the footsteps of his father, brothers and cousins which led him to begin his career in the Royal Air Force Fire Service at 20 years of age. He is now Managing Director for 1st Aid Fire who specialise in first aid training, fire training and fire risk assessments.

From the opinion of someone who works in fire safety, why are fire doors so important?

Fire doors complete compartmentation and when fitted and maintained correctly they will help save lives and property. Too many people see fire doors as being normal doors which leads to them thinking it’s ok to wedge/prop them open. A fire door is only a fire door if it is shut. If a fire door is wedged open, it is just a hole in the wall allowing a fire to spread. Fire doors save lives – FACT!

What importance do you think Fire Door Safety Week has for not only the fire industry but also the users of fire doors?

We all know that fire safety can be a complex subject and Fire Door Safety Week gives people the chance to access information they may not have necessarily considered before. People can take part in events, some of which are CPD, and then they can apply the information they’ve gained to carry out checks with the correct knowledge. The fire industry is a fast-paced industry with new products coming out all the time. FDSW gives service providers the opportunity to showcase new products for all users to see so they can decide which option is best for them.

What are the most common fire door compliance issues you come across on the job?

Once a door is fitted correctly, general maintenance should keep a fire door compliant for quite some time. The common compliance issues I come across are mostly due to fire doors not being maintained. The main things to check for is:

  • The self-closing device closes the door fully and by itself.
  • The seal is in place and is not damaged in any way.
  • The recommended gap between the fire door and the frame does not exceed the current standards (Side and top of a fire door 3mm recommended; max 4mm. The bottom of a fire door 10mm gap to allow for undulating floors, devices can be bought to keep this gap down too)

Do you feel that people face any barriers when it comes to maintaining fire door compliance?

The main barrier that people see is the cost! People don’t want to get a fire door survey done as they believe it will cost thousands to put things right. However, maintaining a fire door or even replacing a fire door is a great deal cheaper than they think. Another thing to note is with fire safety, it’s better safe than sorry.

What do you think would help people to overcome these barriers?

I would always recommend getting a survey and then get a quote for what needs to be actioned. There are lots of options out there and the surveyor will be able to help you achieve compliance within your budget. Alternatively, you can pay for a member of staff in your company to be trained in fire door inspections. Once complete they will be able to survey and maintain fire doors regularly, which in the long run can reduce costs.

Do you have any advice for the readers of this blog on how they can increase the lifespan of their fire doors or keep them compliant for longer?

  • Check fire doors regularly and fix things as soon as you see them. It’s best to be proactive and stop problems from getting worse.
  • Fit the best products you can for your budget range. However, sometimes it’s better to invest in something that is of higher spec, it can avoid replacements and engineer call-outs.
  • Never be afraid to ask companies for advice. It’s what companies like us are here for! We, at 1st Aid Fire, will always welcome questions and try to help in any way we can. By having conversations with us, solutions can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

Having the right testing and certification for each door set component is important for your fire door to be compliant. What is your opinion on global assessment vs primary test evidence – is it practical to test every door with every combination of ironmongery?

There are many companies out there that will say that their products are the best. If fire doorsets are manufactured well and to a specific standard, then it still must be installed correctly. Only use a company which is third-party accredited, this will give you peace of mind that not only the fire door is compliant but the workmanship can be checked at any time. If the standard is not right, the company can be struck-off the accredited recommendation books. We use Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) accredited carpenters and we have never been let down in the past. There are many accredited companies out there, so you can choose the one that suits you and gives you the reassurance you need to feel safe.

How can a business like 1st Aid Fire help people stay safe and compliant?

We offer several different courses from Fire Awareness to Fire Warden training. We want to work with clients so they can ensure their staff are not only trained to deal with fire but also how to be proactive within the workplace. We also work closely with other companies in the industry that offer training in fire door inspection courses or that manufacture the best equipment on the market. 1st Aid Fire can do the hard work for you and ensure that your workplace is safe and compliant.

If you have any more questions about fire doors or you’d like to discuss further how 1st Aid Fire can help your business, check out their website www.1staidfire.com or give them a call on 0808 123 2401

“Protect your business by being proactive”

Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

The Government has made the decision that all schools will be reopening for the new term in September. Preparations and precautions will have already been put in place when the children of key workers were still attending school. However, with all students, staff and visitors returning in September a new risk assessment will need to be carried out to ensure everyone is in a safe environment

Places of education have a duty of care to students and will already use the Governments advice on Health and Safety. However, it is important that a specific Coronavirus Risk Assessment is completed. By doing this, Coronavirus hazards can be identified, measured and controlled.

There are different resources available for Coronavirus Risk Assessments, however, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has created this template which can be used by all industries.

Fireco’s products have already been helping many businesses, hospitals and schools with their germ-control. Here are some of the hazards identified by HSE that Fireco can help with.

Ventilation

Buildings should have good ventilation and fresh air circulating throughout. Our hold-open devices allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open which will improve airflow. When the fire alarm is activated, the doors will automatically close. With colder weather approaching, it’s important to have other methods in place to ensure good ventilation throughout your school, as keeping the windows open won’t always be a suitable option.

Pinch points

High traffic areas in the school such as Reception, hallways, doorways, toilets, lifts, changing rooms, canteens, break rooms etc are going to need to be monitored. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

Anxiety around Coronavirus

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about returning to normal activities such as attending school. Many students and staff members will need assurances and physical evidence that there are practices in place to maintain hygiene. Germgard is a clear and visual way to encourage good hygiene. A sensor will detect someone approaching and a screen with digital signage will prompt them to use hand sanitiser before entering. This system could be ideal for a reception area, break room, or delivery bay as staff and visitors passing through will use hand sanitiser before being allowed entry. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and reduce the need to touch door handles, this could also be encouraging for people who are concerned about contaminated surfaces.

Inadequate hygiene

If people on the school premises are not keeping up good personal hygiene, they could easily cross-contaminate items they touch. Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco can help keep schools fire-safe and COVID-secure. If you would like to know how we can help your school, contact us today on 01273 320650.

What has the Bolton student accommodation fire taught us?

What has the Bolton student accommodation fire taught us?

In November 2019 third-party student accommodation in Bolton known as ‘The Cube’ went up in flames. It took 40 fire engines and 9 hours for the fire service to get it under control and left 220 students with no belongings or place to live.

The University of Bolton, although not liable, re-homed all of the students affected, placing them in hotels, providing them with food and toiletries and giving each of them £500 cash to buy essential items. This cost the University around £1M.

The blaze has since raised issues about the safety of residents in third-party student accommodation.

Dangerous Cladding

The fire is thought to have been caused by a discarded cigarette, however, this is still under investigation. In the meantime, the biggest question being asked is why did the fire spread in a way that resembled the Grenfell tragedy.

Much research has been carried out on cladding used on high-rise buildings. Although the one used on The Cube (high-pressure laminate) was not the same type as the one used on Grenfell (aluminium composite material), it is still classed as a flammable material.

Fire alarms ignored by students

The Manchester Evening News interviewed some of the students who had fled the building and found that many of them didn’t respond when the fire alarms went off.

“I was just sitting there, hanging about and not really doing anything. Then someone knocked on my door.”

“The fire alarm was going off but nobody was paying any attention. It goes off all the time, maybe every hour during the day because someone has done something in the kitchen and it’s set off the alarm.

“if it had gone up in the middle of the night everyone would have slept through the alarm. We have slept through them before when there were non-emergencies.”

Bolton University Students

Universities urged to review fire safety

Whilst the causes and spread of the fire were being uncovered and investigated, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, wrote to all universities urging them to review their own and their third-party providers fire safety procedures. This came after Union Leaders wrote to him raising concerns for students’ health and safety.

What can Universities and their providers do in order to be compliant and increase the safety of students?

Union Leaders proposed to Gavin Williamson that the following actions should be taken:

  • Remove dangerous and flammable cladding on educational buildings.
  • Carefully consider the use of building materials on all new builds and avoid the use of cladding known to be dangerous.
  • Fit sprinklers in new accommodation and educational buildings.
  • Review of all educational buildings to establish if standards are being met.

Other actions that can be taken include:

  • Arrange for a fire risk assessment to be carried out by a professional body so that all risks can be identified and eliminated.
  • Put in place systems that can ensure the safety of all students like Fireco’s Deafgard or Digital Messaging System.
  • Carry out regular fire drills and evacuations with students so they are prepared if a fire does occur.
  • Teach students basic fire safety awareness, for example, common causes of fires and preventative measures and how to use provided fire equipment.

Fireco is here to make compliance easy. If you need help with fire safety in your university or accommodation facility, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Upgrade your fire safety and reduce your maintenance

*Photo credit @Manchesterfire on Twitter

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Closed doors can save lives

Closed doors can save lives

Did you know that closing your fire door at night could be the difference between life and death?

The Fire Door Safety Week 2019 campaign focuses on the critical role of fire doors for keeping people safe in sleeping accommodation. This could be anything from HMO’s (House in Multiple Occupancy), care homes and hotels. Whilst you are asleep you are vulnerable to potential dangers, such as a fire. 

By closing your bedroom door in these types of residence you are increasing your chances of survival. Here are a few of the benefits behind the closed door:

  • Lower temperature
  • Less smoke
  • Prevented damage
  • More oxygen

Can a closed-door really make that much difference?

Fire doors are specifically designed to trap a fire for up to 60 minutes. This gives enough time for people to evacuate the building and for the fire service to extinguish the flames before it takes over the whole building. 

If you are asleep, you are going to be less reactive to a fire breaking out. If your bedroom door is left open, you are giving fire the opportunity to enter the room before you even realise it’s there. If your bedroom door is closed, fire will be kept out of the room, meaning the fire service can be called and they can help you evacuate the building safely and unharmed.

 

 

 

 

This image is an example of how much difference a closed bedroom door can make. On one side you can see the hallway which has been turned into ashes from the fire. The other side shows the bedroom which looks untouched. By keeping that door closed, the fire was not able to affect that room.

There are many reasons why people choose to keep their door open at night. However, it is much safer for yourself, your family and your property to close them.

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Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

Schools will be welcoming back all staff and students for the new term in September. Is your school COVID-secure? Fireco can help with your Coronavirus risk assessment.

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

How to stay fire safe this summer

How to stay fire safe this summer

Do you know how to keep fire safe this summer? Many of us will be basking in the English sun, spending more time outside and without knowing it, potentially increasing the risk of fires.

Most summer fire safety hazards can actually be removed or reduced just by awareness and simple changes in behaviour.

BBQ’s

The risk: An exposed flame.

Tips:

  • Choose a good location- a flat surface and away from anything that can catch on fire, like tree branches, decorations or umbrellas.
  • It is not recommended to have BBQ’s on balconies, especially if they are particularly small or made out of wood.
  • Supervise the BBQ at all times and keep pets and children away.
  • Stay prepared for an emergency by having a bucket of sand or water nearby.
  • Once you have finished cooking, let the leftover coal cool down before you throw it away.
  • Don’t pour flammable liquids onto the BBQ for any reason.
  • If you are using a disposable BBQ, be sure to place it onto a solid, flat surface such as concrete. Grass, benches and plastic are not suitable.

Mirrors

The risk: Keeping a mirror somewhere the sun beams directly on to it (e.g. by a window) can ignite a fire if the mirror reflects the light onto something else. In 2015 a couples’ flat ended up with substantial fire damage after a mirror reflected light onto papers and furniture, sparking flames.

Tips:

  • Keep mirrors away from windows.
  • Ensure there are no sun rays shining directly onto any mirrors in your household.

Fire pits

The risk: The fire spitting out sparks or the flames catching fire to something else.

Tips:

  • Place on a flat surface and away from anything that can catch on fire, like tree branches, decorations or umbrellas.
  • It is recommended to place a fire pit 10 feet away from buildings and other people’s gardens.
  • Try to avoid cedar and pine as this type of wood is more likely to spit. Alternatively, you can buy a fire pit that is fueled by gas.
  • Try not to wear loose or flammable clothing when using the fire pit.

Littering

The risk: Glass, cigarettes and plastic can catch fire if left outside in the sun for a long period of time. During the heatwave in 2018, there were 56 roadside fires over just 10 days, many of which were thought to be caused by litter. 

Tips:

  • Don’t litter.
  • If there are no bins around, why not ask a nearby shop or restaurant to discard it for you or keep hold of the rubbish until you get home.

Propping open fire doors

The risk: During the hot summer months, it’s common for people to prop open doors to allow fresh air to flow through the building. If a fire were to break out and the fire doors were wedged open, smoke and fire would rapidly spread through the whole building.

Tips:

  • Keep doors closed and invest in air conditioning or fans.
  • Purchase a device that is suitable for holding your door open legally and safely.

We can only hope for a long hot summer here in England, but we can guarantee that we will have a fire-safe one! 

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Are fully wired systems still the best option?

Are fully wired systems still the best option?

There are a lot of fire safety products out there and knowing what is best for your building can sometimes be unclear. One topic that has been coming up recently is whether to go with a wireless system or a fully wired system. 

Wireless products are normally activated by sound or radio signal. There may be an element with a direct wired connection to the fire panel, though the units themselves avoid the need for cables as they are typically battery powered.

Fully wired systems involve running cables between the units and the fire panel. They are ideal for new build environments, where the cost of cabling is less prohibitive.

Wiring products through a building may not always be the best solution as it can bring with it a range of different problems.

Hidden costs

As well as buying the products to fit, you will also need to pay for a professional installer to run cables through the building. After cables are fitted, there will need to be restorative work carried out on floors, walls and ceilings affected.

Asbestos survey and control

Installing wires through buildings that are particularly old may not be possible due to safety reasons, for example, drilling through areas that contain asbestos. This involves major health risks and will need to be done by a specialist.

Dangers to staff and visitors when work is being carried out

Risk assessments should be filled out to ensure that occupants won’t be harmed during building work.

Business disruption

Running cables through a building can be a big job. Parts of the building may need to be blocked off for work to be carried out or the whole building may even need to be closed for business. This could even mean that no one is allowed to enter the building until work is complete.

Maintaining compartmentation

A fire can spread through a hole the size of a pen nib so it’s vital that compartmentation is maintained. If holes have been made and not filled correctly it will compromise the fire safety of the building. Once the work has been done, all holes will need to be filled so that the area remains fireproof.

Some people believe that fully wired systems are the only option when it comes to having the highest standard of protection. However, there are wire-free alternatives that are also suitable for high-risk areas and are often more cost-effective and easier to install.

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Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

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