News Archive 2010

This is where you will find archived stories of interest from 2010. All items were originally on the latest news page.

December 2010

Schwarzenegger Says Burn It!

Governor of California, Arnold Shwarzenegger

A southern Californian home packed with explosives, bomb making equipment and ammunition was deliberately burned to the ground recently.

Firefighters, police and safety authorities concluded that the controlled burn was the least risky way of dealing with the stash, which is believed be the largest amount of homemade explosives ever found in one location in the US. Watch the video here

Residents within a half-mile radius of the house in the Escondido district – around 30 miles from San Diego – have been put on 24-hours notice to evacuate their homes. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has declared a state of emergency for San Diego county. Source: Info4Fire

Prison Fire in Chile Kills 81

Chilean president Sebastian Pinera has vowed to reform the country’s prison system following the horrific blaze that left at least 81 people dead.

The fire on Wednesday at the San Miguel jail in Santiago broke out during a fight between rival gangs who set fire to mattresses, according to BBC News. The prison was said to be severely overcrowded, housing up to 1,900 prisoners when it was only designed to hold round 900. Source: Info4Fire

DTV Shredder

Motorised Skateboard - Beat the bad weather!

Anyone struggling to get around during the recent bad weather would be wise to take a look at the DTV Shredder.

The Shredder is a cross between skateboarding/snowboarding and Motocross. The Shredder is powered by an 18hp racing engine and two tank-threads capable of handling any terrain at high speed. Read on...

Blaze at Lakanal House’s neighbouring block

Marie Curie House

A fire at Marie Curie House – which is next to Lakanal House in Camberwell, London where six people died last year – has severely damaged a maisonette on the thirteenth floor. Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters were called to the building at around 6.30 pm on Monday 29 November. The fire, which was confined to a bedroom and interior hallway and did not spread to other properties in the building, was under control by 8.45pm.

Thankfully, no one was killed or injured this time, and on the face of it the fire protection measures put in place seem to have done their job of preventing it spreading to the common areas and to other flats. Source: Info4Fire

Festive Advert Wins Award

A chilling radio commercial aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of cooking after drinking too much has won an international advertising award.

The advert, produced for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service by local station Beacon Radio – features the voice of a little girl lying in bed on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to visit. But Father Christmas turns into a drunken dad who leaves the chip pan on and falls asleep in an armchair. The innocent girl’s voice then transforms mid-sentence into a woman talking about firefighters tackling a serious house blaze. Listen to the advert

November 2010

Cling Film on the Sensor

The importance of properly maintaining fire alarms has been highlighted by a case in Sheffield. Two men were rescued from a flat in Broomhall by fire fighters after their chip pan caught fire while they were asleep. However, authorities were only alerted when a fire alarm in a nearby flat detected the smoke pouring from the neighbouring property.

When inspecting the scene after the fire had been put out, the fire crew found that the flat's own smoke alarm had been disabled by cling film draped across the sensor.

Watch Manager Jim Moll: "This incident demonstrates, once more, the importance of properly maintaining and testing a working smoke alarm. By covering up the smoke alarm, this incident could easily have been much worse, potentially resulting in these two young men's deaths." Source: FIA

Lafarge Fined £130,000


Lafarge Cement has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker was set alight in an explosion. Electrical engineer, Paul Ridings, of Essex had been contracted to work for Lafarge Cement UK, when he was engulfed by the fireball at the firm’s site at Thurrock Marine Terminal in Grays.

Ridings’ clothes caught fire and he sustained burns to his face, neck, chest, arms and hands. He received emergency treatment and spent 19 days in the Specialist Burns Unit at Broomfield Hospital. Since the incident he has undergone numerous skin grafts and operations to remove scar tissue. Source: The Construction Index

DSEAR Assessment

If you use or store dangerous substances in your workplace, you must also consider DSEAR (The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002) and how it will affect general fire precautions. A DSEAR Assessment is separate to a Fire Risk Assessment and is required in certain environments. Call 01524 784356 or enquire online for details.

Huge Fire Safety Fines Set To Continue

Those found guilty of fire breaches could end up paying out unlimited amounts of cash, a fire safety lawyer said at Firex North last week.

In what she described as a 'bunfest for lawyers,' Hilary Ross of Bond Pearce solicitors said fines were likely to be more closely linked with the offending company’s turnover. While death and risk were factors in the judging of a case, Ms Ross said that the size of a fine would probably be in proportion to the size of the business. Source: Info4Fire

October 2010

London Fire Service Strike

London Fire Service are due to strike in the next few days and have issued some guidance for businesses relating to this matter.

They are advising people that they may not be able to respond to fire safety enquiries within normal timescales. They are also reminding people that it remains the responsibility of employers and other premises occupiers to comply with fire safety law. See here for details.

If you are reliant within your assessment on the fire service attending and intervening, you may need to make alternative arrangements to ensure the safety of staff, customers and visitors. Fire Risk Assessment quote.

Firefighters Record Sugababes Track

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has recorded a song to the tune of the Sugababes hit single, Push the Button. Firefighters hope the video will get people to check if their smoke alarms work properly, as part of its Push the Button campaign.

Chief fire officer, Peter Dartford, said: "We’re continually trying new and innovative ways to get the message out there, about the importance of having smoke alarms and checking them on a regular basis." For more information go to

Automist - Automatic Fire Suppression

Recently named one of the top 15 inventions of the last decade in an exhibition at the British library as well as scooping the prize for top invention for last year’s James Dyson award, Automist has been designed to integrate “seamlessly” into residential properties.

The device is intended for use in “fire-prone” locations like kitchens and laundry rooms, as well as to protect exit routes.  Automist’s high-pressure under-sink pump is triggered by a heat alarm, with water mist nozzles mounting under the existing mixer tap. For more information, visit the Plumis website.

A Year for School Repairs

Fire at Wilkinson  Primary School in Bilston

Rebuilding a primary school almost completely destroyed by fire could take up to a year, governors have warned.

About 80% of Wilkinson Primary School in Bilston in the Black Country was ruined by the fire on Monday evening. The cause is being investigated. A derelict school building in Tipton was also hit by fire on Monday. Crews are looking into possibility that both the fires were started deliberately.

Governors, staff and local authority officials will meet later to discuss where pupils can be taught in the meantime. Police said Wilkinson Primary School remained closed to pupils and teachers while the fire service continues damping down and specialist forensic teams complete their work. Source: BBC

National Schools’ Fire Safety Week 2010

National Schools’ Fire Safety Week 2010

Now in its third year, the 2010 National Schools’ Fire Safety Week is taking place from 4th - 8th October and will focus on the topic, ‘Matches & Lighters: Tools not Toys’.
Schools throughout the country are being invited to take part in the campaign, which is aimed at children following the Key Stage 1 curriculum. Teachers can request a resource pack containing everything they need for the week including lesson plans, educational games and daily activities to do with their class. Visit to find out more.

Don't forget your reponsibilities - read our school fire safety update

September 2010

Swansea Factory Blaze

The importance of commercial premises having regular fire risk assessments has been highlighted by a fierce blaze at a car parts factory in Wales, which took firefighters ten hours to put out.

A statement from the fire service revealed that upon their arrival, they found the two-storey building, which was 25 to 30 feet high, engulfed by flames.
"Our first priority was to contain the flames and ensure that they did not spread to a nearby building which contained chemicals and oil," explained assistant county commander for Swansea Gary Williams. "The crews worked extremely hard through the night in difficult circumstances to contain the fire and minimise the risk."

Fire risk assessments, which are a legal requirement for all commercial premises, can help identify potential dangers that could cause such incidents. Source: FIA

Domestic Fires - The Hot Parade

Fire Awareness Training - £19pp

Cleveland Fire Brigade unveils The Hot Parade of strange things people do which cause domestic fires.

Each year across Teesside, firefighters attend fires in the home, many of which could be avoided through a few seconds’ thought. On occasion the incidents can raise a chuckle from those involved, but the risk to householders is very real and could have disastrous consequences. The top five are:

  1. A washing basket left on a cooker hob
  2. A feather duster left close to a boiler which caught fire
  3. An iron on a floor which set fire to a carpet
  4. A candle used for lighting in a loft
  5. Curling tongs left switched on, on top of the bedcovers in a bedroom

Full details

Fitness Gym Evacuated

LA Fitness gym in Brighton

An LA Fitness gym in Brighton had to be evacuated on Sunday morning due a chemical scare. Chlorine was found to be leaking from the spa pool, which had been over-chlorinated.

Around 25 firefighters and a hazardous materials officer from  East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service attended after an emergency call at 9am. Station commander Andy Gausden said: "Onsite staff evacuated everybody and did all the right things and no one was injured." Source: Info4Fire

Spillage Response Training - £43.75 per person

Spillages on site can have far reaching effects on your business, that is why it is critical that all spillages are controlled as quickly and safely as possible. Spillage Response Training...

Swansea Landlord Pays £10,500

A landlord in Swansea has paid £8,500 in fines and £2,287 in costs for breaches of fire safety and environmental health regulations.

John Hague, Swansea's cabinet member for Environment said, "This is an excellent result. The level of fine shows the seriousness of these offences. Landlords who rent out property have a duty to manage them well to protect the health and safety of the tenants.” Source: Info4Fire

Birmingham Landlord Pays £4,500

A Birmingham landlord has had to pay £4,500 after failing to maintain smoke alarms (they had no batteries in them) at a property he had rented out on a multi-occupancy basis to four tenants, one of whom died in a fire.

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: “This case has sadly highlighted the fact that landlords who fail to comply with their legal obligations leave the council with no choice other than to prosecute them. It is hoped that this tragic case will serve as a warning to other landlords in the city that they should ensure that all their properties have adequate fire safety measures in place.” Source: Info4Fire

August 2010

False Fire Alarms

False Alarms

With both Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service and The Scottish Fire Services making recent comments about unwanted false alarms generated from Automatic Fire Alarms, changes are afoot.

Budgetary constraints within public sector services appear to be about to tighten further, and with false alarms quoted by Lancashire Fire & Rescue accounting for almost a third of call-outs (around 6,000), it is easy to see how they can make significant savings by reducing attendance to these incidents.  Read on...

Fantastic Feedback

Lancashire County Council

Following on from the work we have done with Lancashire County Council, we were delighted to receive a letter of recommendation from Tom Armstrong, Principal Building Surveyor.

"In my capacity of Principal Building Surveyor with Lancashire County Property Group I have been associated with Brian and his company for approximately five years. In that time I have recommended Brian and his team to many of Lancashire County Councils and Lancashire Church Diocese schools." Read on...

Liberty’s Latest Escape

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is to get two new means of escape as part of a package of measures to upgrade fire safety on the iconic monument.

The proposed work includes alterations to the staircases in the pedestal (base) of the statue, fire separation between the pedestal and the statue itself, two new means of exiting the monument and upgrades to the fire suppression system.

The 305 ft tall monument, equivalent to a 22-story building, is made of 3/32-inch copper, roughly the thickness of two pennies put together. It was given as a gift from France to the USA in 1886. Source: Info4Fire

£15K Restaurant Fine

A restaurant owner has been fined £15,000 for ten breaches of the Fire Safety Order following a serious fire.

When crews arrived at the China Wok restaurant in Stokesley, north Yorkshire on 24 January, they found a fire on the ground floor of the premises. Two people who were trapped on the upper floors were rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital.

Following the fire, investigations found that the owner, Mr Shun Lin Lam, had failed to address a number of fire safety deficiencies and allowed people to sleep in the premises, despite not having an adequate means of escape, a fire alarm, a fire detection system, any emergency lighting or fire extinguishers. Source: Info4Fire

£8,500 Fine For Landlord

A landlord has paid a total of £6,000 in fines and £2,500 in costs after pleading guilty to eight breaches of the Fire and Safety Order 2005.

In June 2009 fire investigators at Mr Antonio Meloni’s three-storey property in Widnes found blocked escape routes, locked fire escapes and an inadequate fire alarm system. The flats were found to be so dangerous that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said that they had to be vacated.

A spokesman for the Service said: “He [Mr Meloni] was given adequate time to fix the property and was served with a prohibition notice so the time frame for compliance was determined by his business needs.” Source: Info4Fire

July 2010

£5.35 million of fines in Buncefield case

Hertfordshire Oil Storage was fined £1.4m and £1m in costs for its part in the explosion in Hemel Hempstead.
TAV Engineering and Motherwell Control Systems were each ordered to pay £1,000 in fines and £500 each in costs.
The heftiest fine was levied on Total UK, which was ordered to pay a fine of £3.6m and £2.6m in costs.
The British Pipeline Agency was ordered to pay £300,000 for environmental offences and costs of £480,000.

Kevin Myers, HSE's deputy chief executive, said: "Incidents like the explosion at Buncefield are exceptionally rare.  However, society rightly demands the highest of standards from the high hazard industries. Businesses in this sector must manage the risks they create effectively because when things go wrong, the consequences are severe and can destroy lives and shatter local communities.

"Major hazard industries must learn the lessons of events like this. From the board room down companies must ask themselves these questions: do we understand what could go wrong; do we know what our systems are to prevent this happening; and are we getting the right information to assure us they are working effectively." Source: Info4Fire

Life Saving Texts


A new fire alarm service for people who are deaf and hard of hearing has been launched by Fireco.

Deaf Message Service (DMS) uses SMS technology to send text messages to the mobile phones of registered users when a fire alarm activates in public places. The user’s phone is connected to the system by sending a text with the relevant location code.

“Hearing people take everyday audio warnings of danger for granted,” said Clare Chilton, a TV presenter on deaf issues, who spoke at the launch of DMS last week at Portcullis House in Westminster. Source: Info4Fire

Giant Barbecue

Giant Barbecue

A burger factory in Suffolk has been severely damaged by flames. The fire at Wessex Foods, in Lowestoft, broke out on Sunday evening and nearby residents reported hearing explosions.

More than 100 firefighters and two air support units worked through the night. Wessex Food processes mince and burgers at the factory and has 150 staff. Source: BBC

Food Factory Fire Safety Fine

A food factory owner has been ordered to pay more than £20,000 in fines and costs after falling foul of fire safety regulations. Mong Lui of New Kong Nam Food Production Company pleaded guilty to seven offences under the (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Enfield Magistrates Court on 1 July.

There was no evidence of fire safety training for staff, nor any adequate means of fire detection in the two-storey building where the company was based, the court was told. The court also heard that the family-run business did not have an emergency plan in place, nor had it committed to a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment. Source: Info4Fire

With Fire Awareness Training from £19 per person, and basic Fire Risk Assessments starting at £140, the cost of covering yourself is considerably less than the fines that are being imposed.

Pentagon Emergency Response Team Training - Photos

Pentagon Fire Training

This is a short graphical tour showing some of the training with the various shifts at Pentagon. As you will see, there is Hose & Branch Handling, Pumps & Pump Operation, Breathing Apparatus, Spillage Response & Incident Scene Safety. See the photos

June 2010

School Destroyed by Fire

An infants school in south Wales has been completely destroyed after a major fire last week. The fire broke out at Ynysboeth school in Mountain Ash just before midnight last Thursday, according to BBC News. At the height of the blaze, more than 50 firefighters were in attendance using 14 fire engines and support vehicles. School Fire Safety Update

Scare tactics lead to 75% reduction in school fires

In 2003, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service had a job on their hands. Government FDR returns had just told them that the county was the second most badly hit area in the country for school fires. In that year, there were 52 school fires alone. School Fire Safety Update

Bakery Fined £9,000

A Salford bakery has had to pay almost £9,000 after pleading guilty to three fire safety offences.

The directors of Rahat Bakers Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges under the Fire Safety Order: failing to comply with a prohibition notice served on the premises; failing to ensure the safe use of escape routes; and failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £5,625 and costs of £3,282.

Cllr Paul Shannon, vice chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority said: “We welcome the clear message from the courts that action will be taken against those businesses that neglect fire safety and thereby risk the safety of staff and the public. The fire authority is focussed on helping businesses operate safely and taking action when they don’t”. Source: Info4Fire

Oil firms found guilty in Buncefield case

Sentencing of three companies involved in the Buncefield explosion has been set for 16 July, following their conviction for health and safety and environmental offences.

TAV Engineering Ltd and Motherwell Control Systems have both been found guilty of failing to protect their employees, while Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited was found guilty of failing to prevent major accidents and limit their effects under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Motherwell Control Systems was not represented in court as it is in voluntary liquidation.

Hertfordshire Oil pleaded also pleaded guilty to causing pollution to enter controlled waters, which is contrary to the Water Resources Act. Source: Info4Fire

BBQ Fires - Take Care

BBQ Fires - Take Care

Barbeque embers which had been placed near a wheelie bin to die out caused a fire which destroyed a house and a car.

The incident in Nefyn, North Wales, happened after embers stoked up by the wind set the bin alight and then spread to a central heating oil tank, causing a vapour explosion. The resulting liquid fire spread to the house.

Huw Roberts from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "It just goes to show how careful you need to be when discarding of barbeque embers - the incident destroyed property and possessions but it could easily have been worse and led to injury and the loss of life."” Source: Info4Fire

Do you have a fire extinguisher?

We sell a full range of fire extinguishers for both domestic and industrial use. Call us on 01524 784356 to discuss your needs.

Beware the Paperweight

Beware the Paperweight

A fire that devastated a £1 million home in Derbyshire was probably caused by a paperweight. The weight was left on a windowsill on 24 May, on what was one of the hottest days so far this year.

Investigators believe that a concentration of sun rays from the glass onto a nearby stack of books caused the pile to go up in flames. Fire crews were called at around 3.30 pm where they found the house well alight. At its height 25 firefighters tackled the blaze, using an aerial ladder platform and a water foam carrier.

Crews remained on the scene until 4.30 pm the next day. By then, most of the house, which is set in two acres of land, was gutted. The family was unharmed. A spokesman from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “It was a freak accident but there have been fires caused by things like this before, like spectacles.” Source: Info4Fire

Nuclear Fire Safely Contained

A fire at the Dounreay nuclear plant in Scotland, involving sodium residues from decommissioning work, has been contained by on-site firefighters.

The fire broke out at around 12.45 am last Friday in a small, tented area inside the Prototype Fast Reactor complex. It took the site's firefighters, who are specially commissioned for work on the plant, around three hours to put out. Nobody was harmed and a person who was in the building at the time is reported to have left immediately after the fire alarm sounded. Source: Info4Fire

Fire Safety Fines

The Fire Service are continuing to prosecute anybody found in contravention of the Fire Safety Order. The following two examples show what can happen if you fail to comply with a fire risk assessment:

Aberdeen Fire - Evacuation Works

Six wards were evacuated after a fire broke out in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in the early hours of Saturday.

The fire started in ward 34 in the multiple-storey main building of the hospital around 2am. A total of nine appliances with pumps attended the blaze, and around 100 patients had to be moved to other parts of the hospital. Thankfully there were no reports of serious injuries, although two males were treated for smoke inhalation. Source: Info4Fire

Check out our new Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan course

May 2010

Fire Risk Assessor Certification

In anticipation of a nationally recognised register of fire risk assessors, the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) has recommended its members to seek independent certification through a UKAS-accredited scheme.

Speaking at the Institute’s recent technical day in Birmingham, IFSM general secretary, Bob Docherty, outlined the moves towards a national register, and said the best way forward for its risk assessor members was to gain certification through a scheme such as that run by Warrington Certification and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). More details

Sprinklers in New Kent Schools

New schools in Kent are to be fitted with sprinkler systems, following a decision by Kent county council to improve fire safety.

The move will see officials from Kent Fire and Rescue service working with council planners and architects to encourage the installation of systems in all new or large renovation projects. It comes less than five years after a ‘devastating’ fire at Lympne School, near Folkstone, which saw more than 200 children evacuated and the building gutted.

Last year, nearby Medway Council made it mandatory for all new schools in the area to be fitted with sprinklers. Source: Info4Fire

Majestic Hotel, Harrogate

Six Figure Fine for Businessman

The owner of a timber yard has been ordered to pay a total of £130,300 after pleading guilty to several breaches of fire safety legislation.

Paul Ashley, of P and S Ashley Timberworks, in Cheshire, was found guilty of eight offenses against the Fire Safety Order at the Cheshire Crown Court on 11 May. He was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay Cheshire Fire and Rescue service £50,300 in costs after repeatedly refusing to carry out fire safety measures.

Despite being visited on several occasions by fire safety officers, the first time in February 2008, Mr Ashley failed to provide a suitable fire alarm or proper means of escape. He also failed to implement a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment. Source: Info4Fire

Landlord Jailed for 30 Months

A Suffolk landlord has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after a tenant was practically baked alive in a fire at one of his properties in Norwich.

Nineteen-year-old Layla Skalli suffered 80-per-cent deep-tissue burns and was given a less than one-per-cent chance of survival following the blaze, on 14 April 2009. Virtually all the skin below her neck was destroyed by the intense 600-degree radiant heat, and only pioneering skin-grafting techniques saved her life. More details

Majestic Hotel, Harrogate

Majestic Hotel Fire

Yorkshire firefighters have found a body following a serious fire at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

Around 24 staff and 130 guests were evacuated after fire alarms went off at 5am yesterday morning. The identity of the victim, who was found on the fifth floor of the hotel, has not yet been confirmed but is believed to be a member of the hotel's staff.

At an earlier press conference at nearby Cairns Hotel, which has also taken in guests following their evacuation, North Yorkshire police superintendent, Ken McIntosh, said: "At this stage the cause of the fire is not known and a full examination of the scene will be carried out by fire investigators and police. It is too early to say if there are any suspicious circumstances. 
Source: Info4Fire In Pictures: BBC

Beam Me Up, Scotty

A fire in a production area of a factory in west Hull was nipped in the bud, thanks to a beam detection system raising the alarm.

The Fireray 5000 optical beam detector sounded the alarm at 8.45am when the area had been temporarily left unmanned, reports Fireray manufacturer Fire Fighting Enterprises.The alarm signal was picked up by staff in the security lodge, who called the fire brigade.

Ten fire engines from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service attended the blaze within 5 minutes, which was thought to have started when acetone caught alight. Firefighters quickly subdued the blaze, it's reported, and all staff were evacuated without incident. Source: Info4Fire

Channel Tunnel Mist

As part of a series of measures following the Channel Tunnel fire in 2008, Eurotunnel has completed a full scale test of a new fire protection system using water mist.

The new procedures – which are subject to regulatory approval – will see the introduction of two water mist or ‘SAFE’ stations in each of the tunnel’s two bores. Each 870m long station will be equipped with a water mist system, designed to penetrate the lattice work surround of freight wagons and suppress any fire. More details

Co-op Fined £210,000

The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest mutual retailer – has been fined £210,000 after pleading guilty to six breaches of fire safety legislation at Southampton Crown Court yesterday.

It follows an investigation in 2007 at one of the Co-op’s Southampton branches. Officers from Hampshire Fire and Rescue found that the store had failed to keep the rear emergency exit doors unlocked, and had fitted a lock on the exit doors that required a security code – making the exit harder to open in an emergency. In addition, the fire alarm call point was found to be obstructed and the alarm had not been tested regularly, while the store’s manager was not instructed in fire safety. Source: Info4Fire

April 2010

25% of Workers Have Never Had a Full Fire Drill

Insurance firm RSA commissioned research which shows that a quarter of workers have never participated in a full fire evacuation of their workplace. One in 20 UK workers also said their workplace had no marked fire exits at all. According to the survey, over 40% of people said they would spend time retrieving personal belongings or work documents before vacating the building. One in ten workers said they sit at their desks for more than a minute before getting up to leave the building on hearing the alarm go off, regardless of whether they believe there is a real fire or not.

Train your team from just £285 - More details

Huge Fine for Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £95,000 and ordered to pay over £24,000 in costs after pleading guilty to five breaches of the Fire Safety Order.

London Fire Brigade, prosecuting, said firefighters were called to a fire at Tesco’s Colney Hatch store in Barnet on 14 October 2007. When they arrived found the premises locked but managed to gain access after attracting the attention of an employee who was restocking shelves. There had been a fire in the staff kitchen but it had been put out by staff using extinguishers and a fire blanket. There was still a significant amount of smoke in the kitchen, the corridor and staff locker rooms and crews had to ask staff several times to evacuate the premises. More details

Graduation Cap and Gown

University Degree in Fire and Rescue

The University of Wolverhampton is to offer its students a degree in fire and rescue from September this year.

The new BSC (Hons) fire and rescue course, which is in partnership with West Midlands Fire Service, is geared towards preparing students for a career in the fire service through academic study and work placements.

It will include modules focused on crisis management, leadership, fire law, fire investigations and the chemistry of combustion. Students will also become community volunteers working with the fire service during their studies. If successful, students could be offered the opportunity to undertake the basic firefighters programme with West Midlands crews. Source: Info4Fire

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Voice alarm system protects Sydney Harbour Bridge workers

Sydney Harbour Bridge, known as ‘the Coathanger’ in Australia for its arch-based design, has been fitted with Vimpex voice alarm sounders.

The wireless sounders, which can hold four messages each, have been fitted in the maintenance cribs and active re-painting areas, which are relocated occasionally.

A spokesman from Vimpex said: “Each voice message can be individually activated from four switches remotely located in the Harbour Bridge control room. The units require no special wiring and can be retrofitted to existing installations.” Source: Info4Fire


Fiery Wake Up for the Deaf

The Japanese are renowned for developing some of the most innovative gadgets and new technologies in the world.

Now one company has developed a new type of smoke alarm for deaf people. It uses the pungent smell of wasabi, a common ingredient in sushi. Watch the video here (BBC)

Chalk Lane Hotel

Hotel fined £15,000

A Surrey hotel with no working fire alarm and disabled self-closures on fire doors has been fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,800.
Chalk Lane Hotel Ltd pleaded guilty to six breaches of the Fire Safety Order at Redhill Magistrates Court on 30 March.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service investigated the 22-bed Chalk Lane Hotel in Epsom after a tip-off from a guest staying there. Officers found a defective fire alarm system, fire doors with self-closing devices that had been disabled, and a bolted final exit. There was also no fire risk assessment, inadequate information and training for employees, and no record of a fire drill having been carried out. Source: Info4Fire

£26,000 Fire Fine

The landlord, tenant and manager of a Chinese restaurant have together had to pay more than £26,000 at Guildford Crown Court for breaches of the Fire Safety Order.

The Royal Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, in Tadworth, was found to have no safe escape route from the first floor, an “inadequate” fire alarm system and “inadequate” emergency lighting. The building was in a poor state of repair with areas of high fire loading, while one room was found to contain a stack of bamboo chairs, a petrol strimmer and signs of discarded smoking materials. Source: Info4Fire

March 2010

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Set Fire

Hertfordshire firefighters were called last Friday (26th March) to put out a fire on the set of the latest Harry Potter film.

It is thought a battle scene involving a mocked up castle outside Leavesdon Studios got out of control at around 8.30 pm. Around 20 firefighters attended, but by the time they reached the studios on-set crews had managed to get the blaze under control. Source: Info4Fire

Confined Space Training

Trapped for 2 hours

Vickers Construction Limited of Eaglescliffe has been fined £5,000 with costs of £3,178 at Darlington Magistrates’ Court in connection with an accident in which an employee was trapped in a collapsed trench for more than 2 hours.

This case study underlines the genuine risks involved in working in a confined space. It is crucial to examine and anticipate the risks prior to undertaking any work. Failure to do so can prove costly. Confined Space Training allows you to do this with your team.

John Timperley

One of Ours

One of our Fire Risk Assessors, John Timperley, is featured in the news this week following his attendance at a local fire. John is Watch Manager of Lancaster Fire Station, as well as being one of our team. See the article here

London Fire Probe

The London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee is conducting a review of fire safety and building regulations, planning policies, construction codes and other guidance to assess their robustness. More details

Toxic gas escape on River Humber

Four workers were hurt when a toxic gas cloud escaped at a plant on the banks of the River Humber.

Described as "serious", the incident took place at 0030 GMT at the Cristal Global plant, North East Lincolnshire. The men, who suffered burns and toxic inhalation, were taken to hospital after titanium tetrachloride escaped at the plant near Grimsby.

Phil Leake, from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said the escape occurred after an explosion in a chemical vessel at the factory. Source: BBC

Fire Safety Fines

The Fire Service are continuing to prosecute anybody found in contravention of the Fire Safety Order. The following two examples show what can happen if you fail to comply with a fire risk assessment:

February 2010

Heater Caused Blaze

The cause of a fire in Exmouth which spread to neighbouring properties in a parade of shops has been identified as a halogen heater which ignited combustible material.

Around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze on 28 January, which spread to properties on both sides of the shop and to a number of flats. The heater was situated in the stockroom of the Bargains Galore shop in the town centre.

Easily Overlooked - During these cold months, it is to be expected that people will use a variety of heating appliances to keep warm. The most important thing is to ensure they are stored correctly, away from combustible materials. Fire Awareness Training will bring this and other fire safety issues to the attention of your team.

Free Fire Safety Log Book

Fire Safety Log Book

We have just launched our re-designed fire safety log book for 2010.

It is designed to assist you in complying with the Fire Safety Order by acting as a record of the testing of fire safety features and equipment contained within your premises, along with a programme of fire safety training for your staff. The information contained is for your guidance only and should form part of your fire risk assessment, also required by the Fire Safety Order.

Download your free copy here

Landlord prosecuted for fire safety breaches in HMO

Camden Council has fined two companies and their director a total of £32,400 for managing an unlicensed house of multiple occupation (HMO) which posed a fire risk to tenants. The prosecution, which took place on 29 September, is the first of its kind where defendants have been convicted of a ‘failure to take measures as are reasonably required to protect the occupiers of the HMO from injury'.

The three-storey town house in Swiss Cottage, North London, was let to seven tenants and had missing doors, no fire detection or alarm systems, and no fire doors to prevent the rapid spread of fire.

Commenting on the case, councillor Chris Knight from Camden Council said that the safety of tenants in the borough is a priority and that dangerous or illegal practices that are potentially life-threatening for tenants will not be tolerated.

Back-up Alarm Saves 100 Lives

Two men who set fire to Novas Scarman's flagship hostel Arlington House are due to be sentenced for arson.

In June 2008, the pair disabled the hostel's fire alarm and climbed through a window to the staff office, where they started a fire. A back-up alarm sounded, and the London Fire Brigade was able to put out the blaze, potentially saving the lives of 100 men asleep in the hostel at the time. When the police arrived at the scene, they arrested Mr Coster and Mr Chaproniere. Stephen Coster, 29, and John Chaproniere, 39, were found guilty of arson recklessly endangering life at Blackfriars Crown Court last month. They will be sentenced on 16 and 23 February respectively.

Detective Femi Omole of Camden Police said: ‘Arson is a serious offence and since attempts had been made to silence the fire alarms, the potential loss of life could have been horrendous. I am very pleased with the guilty findings.' Source: Inside Housing

Fire Alarms & Emergency Lighting

No FRA before Fire Service College blaze

The Fire Service College had not carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Safety Order at the time of last year’s fire which destroyed 11 fire engines and the appliance bay they were kept in.

In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the college has revealed that the last fire risk assessment on the part of its site which includes the appliance bay was in December 2004 – under the previous Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.

Commenting on the absence of a fire risk assessment, a Fire Service College spokesperson said: “The Fire Service College was in the process of conducting a comprehensive series of risk assessments across the whole site, at the time of the fire.” Source: Info4fire

Firefighting Robots

Firefighting Robots

Engineers at Sheffield Hallam University have been working with firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to design firefighting robots.

The robots, called Guardian and Viewfinders, have been funded by the European Union and are in the final testing stages. They are able to navigate and search urban areas, such as warehouses and factories, during large-scale incidents. The machines have laser-range, radio signal and ultrasound sensors, which connect to a wireless ad-hoc network and forward data to a human operator and a control station. Source: Sheffield Hallam

Illegally Stored Aerosols

A Leicestershire haulage firm has been fined for illegally storing large quantities of aerosols.

Coalville Magistrates' Court, sitting on 8 January, heard that AM Widdowson & Son Ltd had stored large amounts of aerosols, which contain liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), for around seven months. The firm began storing the chemical at its depot in Hilltop Industrial Estate site, Leicestershire after winning a contract to transport the products.

The HSE was notified in July 2008 that the company was storing far in excess of the legal limit of aerosol products. HSE inspectors visited the site and estimated that around 500 tonnes – 10 times the legal limit – were being stored at the site. Source: SHP

January 2010

Chinese Restaurant Fined £7000

A former restaurant manager has been ordered to pay over £7,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety legislation following a prosecution by the London Fire Brigade.

Mr Wei Chen who was managing Kan's Chinese and Thai Cuisine at the time of the breaches admitted guilt on 10 contraventions of the Fire Safety Order. In June 2007, visiting fire inspectors discovered a number of fire safety breaches and an enforcement notice was issued requiring Mr Wei Chen to remedy the faults by 11 April 2008. A further inspection took place on 29 April 2008 and all of the fire safety breaches were still evident. These included no fire warning system, no fire exit signs and inadequate fire safety training to staff. There was also no fire risk assessment done for the premises.

Tower Block Register

Lakanal Tragedy

BBC Radio 4 recently aired a programme on high rise fire safety. If you missed it, it is well worth 25 minutes of your time:

A register of residential tower blocks in England is to be set up after the Lakanal House fire in south London killed six people, including three children. More details

Andigestion Remedy


We have just carried out Spillage Training at Holsworthy Biogas Plant, the UK's first, and most productive, centralised anaerobic digestion power station.

The site, at Chilsworthy in West Devon, provides a renewable and environmentally sustainable source of energy. Organic commercial wastes are processed at the plant, producing renewable energy and a valuable fertiliser. More details

Amatoya - Firefighter of the Future

Amatoya - Firefighter of the Future

Futuristic firefighting buggy with water cannons

If the fire brigade is ever struggling to attract new recruits, perhaps it might want to put a picture of this Amatoya concept on its recruitment poster. It'll easily be the most effective campaign since Uncle Sam's 'I Want YOU' was deployed during the two World Wars.  More details

Large fire at South Yorks school

Campsmount Technology College Fire

More than half of a school in South Yorkshire has been destroyed by a large fire.

Around 60 firefighters tackled the blaze at Campsmount Technology College in Norton near Doncaster. Only the gymnasium, library and a number of classrooms were left intact. 

Richard Chandler, area manager for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, told BBC News that the fire spread rapidly through a large part of the school. "We were looking at flames up to about 100ft into the air, a thick black smoke plume probably rose up to 300ft into the air.

"There's an awful lot of twisted metal, there's an awful lot of ruined classroom equipment and probably across quite a large part of the site, there's very little apart from the steel structure that stands." Source: FSE

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