News Archive 2011

Online fire training launched FREE fire risk assessment quote

This is where you will find archived stories of interest from 2011. All items were originally on the latest news page.

November 2011

Prohibition Notices on Death Trap Housing

Officers from London Fire Brigade have swooped to close a number of commercial buildings being used as living accommodation, after uncovering some of the worst fire safety risks they have ever seen. Full story...

Smoke alarm causes fire in Hull

An investigation is underway after a smoke alarm appeared to spontaneously combust in a home in Hull recently.

16-year-old Victoria Gray reported hearing a "large bang" which she thought was the family dog, Cookie. Upon further investigation she discovered a small fire in the utility room, which she extinguished herself with a bucket of water. The Fire Angel ST620 was in a newspaper rack in the room at the time of the explosion.

The smoke alarms are supplied by fire and rescue services nationally as part of a programme to encourage fire safety. Humberside Fire and Rescue Service have decided to suspend providing the detectors while an independent laboratory investigates further. A spokesman for Sprue Aegis, who produce the Fire Angel alarms, said that they are cooperating while the independent analysis is ongoing, and in the mean time it is 'very much business as usual.'

"Highly technical people cannot explain how it happened. We're not taking these reports lightly, however we provide one million alarms every year and we're talking about one small fire. This didn't happen in situ. The forensic side of it is looking into what happened to [the alarm] when it was taken off the ceiling." Source: Info4Fire

Safety Signs - Clearance

We have been having a clear out of our store cupboard and found some signage, unused. This way for some absolute bargains...

Plane makes fiery crash landing

A Polish airliner was forced into making an emergency crash landing this week after the landing gear failed to open.

Fire services doused the runway with flame retardant foam to mitigate the danger of the plane bursting into flames upon landing, and the pilot circled Warsaw airport for over an hour to burn up fuel that could otherwise have ignited upon landing.

Though flames and smoke could be seen pouring from the undercarriage (see video), these weren’t to develop into a larger fire and the landing was a textbook example of fire and disaster management. A spokesperson for LOT airlines said the fuel tanks were almost empty by the time the plane came into land, and the plane was completely evacuated in just 90 seconds.

Pilot Tadeusz Wrona subsequently dismissed suggestions he was a "national hero" by saying "any of our pilots could have landed the plane and the result would have been the same, because we train for situations like this on simulators." Source: Info4Fire

Balotelli backs firework code

controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli

With bonfire night approaching, it’s very much the time of year of young people playing with fireworks while their idols line up to tell them not to.

This year, however, controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has managed to fill both briefs. Following the widespread reports of a firework being let off in Balotelli’s bathroom on the eve of the Manchester derby, the star has been recruited to front a Manchester-based campaign to encourage youngsters to follow the firework safety code.

Responding to the reports, Balotelli said “I didn't set any fireworks off, it was a friend of mine. Luckily, nobody was injured, and my friend apologised to me for the damage to my house. It was a really stupid thing for him to do, someone could have been really hurt, and I was really, really angry with him about it.”

The regional campaign, Safe4Autumn, was set up as a partnership between Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and several other organisations including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The message from Balotelli was straightforward: “Children should not mess with fireworks. They can be very dangerous if they are not used in the right way. People should follow the firework code.” Source: Info4Fire

October 2011

Fools Gold

The man who tried to turn his own faeces into gold

A Northern Ireland man who tried to turn his own faeces into gold by putting it on an electric heater has been jailed for three months.

The bizarre experiment, carried out by Paul Moran, 30, caused around £3,000 worth of damage to his Housing Executive home in a block of flats at Derrin Park in Enniskillen in July.

His Honour Judge McFarland told him: “Rather bizarrely you were attempting to make gold from human faeces and waste products. It was an interesting experiment to fulfil the alchemist’s dream, but wasn’t going to succeed.”

While outlining the circumstances of the case at Enniskillen Magistrates Court, prosecuting counsel Robin Steer, told those present that at 7.12pm on July 24 last year the Fire Brigade was called to Moran’s flat at Derrin Park in Cornagrade, Enniskillen. A police officer who was at the scene overheard Moran tell someone he had put “fertiliser” on a heater.

Moran’s barrister, Des Fahy, agreed that the general circumstances of the case were bizarre. He said Moran was a man of considerable intellectual ability but there was a clear problem over the years relating to drug abuse. Source: Belfast Telegraph

Film Set Used for Fire Safety Education

Lifewise centre in Rotherham

Safety tips will be given to schoolchildren at a new fire and police learning centre. The Lifewise centre in Rotherham will offer South Yorkshire schoolchildren life skills, including fire, road and personal safety tips.

Lifewise is a life-size film set of a small town, which is used to deliver safety messages to the public. It has been built in partnership between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR), South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership. Older people will also visit the centre as part of the new ‘Get Lifewise’ course, which aims to help older citizens with safety information they need to stay safe.

SYFR head of community safety, Phil Shilito said: “Lifewise is our flagship learning centre for delivering our fire and road safety educational programmes. We’ve worked very closely with the community, police and other partners to create a learning space which will more than pay for itself in terms of keeping young people safe and reducing future crime and emergency incidents.”

Lifewise’s flagship education programme ‘Crucial Crew’ began last week, with 400 Barnsley schoolchildren learning about anti-social behaviour, fire safety, arson, road safety, first aid and safe travel on buses. Source: Info4Fire

Selnet Enterprise in Society Awards 2011

Our Managing Director, Brian Gregory, recently attended the Selnet Enterprise in Society Awards, supporting Unique Kidz & Co, our favourite charity.

Unique Kidz & Co were nominated for the New Social Enterprise award. Whilst they didn't win, they had a great night and Jane Halpin, their representative, vowed to 'win next year!'

Selnet stands for Social Enterprise Lancashire Network.

Positive Feedback from the Chamber of Commerce

We recently supported the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce in delivering some First Aid Training. Jo Fawcett, Events and Training Assistant, kindly provided the following feedback:

"I wish to express our gratitude on behalf of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce for the training you delivered at our first aid course on 6th October. We have received great positive reviews from the attendees. I am truly grateful for your contribution in making the course a huge success. In the meantime, please pass on my thanks to your colleague who delivered the course. Thank you once again."

Tumble Dryer May Have Caused School Blaze

A secondary school has reopened after a fire forced the building to close last week.

Pupils were evacuated from Dowdales secondary school in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria on Friday (16 September) after the fire was reported in the food technology unit of the building, shortly after 2pm. More details

September 2011

Tower Block Sprinkler Retrofit Challenge

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind, a project to retrofit a sprinkler system to an existing residential tower block got underway last week in Sheffield.

Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Homes have joined with the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) to install the system at Callow Mount in Gleadless, a 38-year old social housing block occupied mainly by elderly residents.

The project will test the viability and cost of retrofitting a sprinkler system to an existing residential tower block and is thought to be the first in the UK where residents will remain in occupancy during the work.

The likely cost of the project is around £80,000 which is being fully funded by BAFSA and its members. Source: Info4Fire

A Breath Of Unfresh Air

Twenty firefighters tackled a fire in a bungalow in Middlesex that is believed to have been caused by a plug-in air freshener.

London Fire Brigade believes the fire was caused by a plug-in air freshener that overheated because it was covered by clothing. The fire was under control shortly after 10pm.

Stanmore watch manager, Simon Horn, said: “When we arrived we were faced with an intense fire and crews did extremely well to stop it from spreading to the roof and adjacent properties. Thankfully nobody was in the bungalow at the time of the fire. If people use plug-in air fresheners, they need to be careful to follow the instructions and never place materials next to or on top of them, as they can overheat and cause a fire.” Source: Info4Fire

Congratulations to Barrie

Congratulations to our assessor Barrie Griffith, who recently won a motorbike in a competition. In Barrie's words:

"I won the bike through a Premier Foods competition. My wife saw it so I entered it online and just sent in my name e-mail phone contact etc. and Bingo! They rang me a few months later on my mobile to say my name had been picked from 32,000 entrants. I wasn't convinced at first, what with all the other sales calls you get on your mobile! It was a Monster Energy drink promotion.

"For those who don't know much about bikes, it's a Yamaha R1 YZF 1000cc which is a sports bike i.e. Ferrari in the motorcycle world! I have two other bikes which aren't sports bikes at home, and at 52 it wouldn't have been a bike I could have bought or afforded at £13,000! But winning it is a different matter :)

"To run it in, I booked a ferry to the Isle of Man to go and watch the Manx Grand Prix motorcycle races there!"

Charity Fun Day - Primrose House Trust

Safety Management (UK) was proud to sponsor the recent Heysham Charity Fun Day in aid of Primrose House Trust.

The event took place at Heysham Cricket Club on Sunday 18th September. There was a darts competition with large cash prizes, along with a bbq, hog roast, auction and other assorted games.

Primrose House Trust is based in Middleton, Morecambe. It is a non-profit making charity providing services for people who have profound physical and learning disabilities.

August 2011

Kate Winslet offered firefighter training

Actress Kate Winslet has been invited to train with firefighters after her rescue of Richard Branson’s 90-year old mother from a fire last week which destroyed his luxury home on his private island. London Fire Brigade, which has more than 300 women firefighters, is inviting the actress to learn how crews deal with fires and also about fire prevention. Ms Winslet would visit the brigade’s training centre, meet trainees and experience the role of a modern day firefighter. This would include operational duties such as trying out firefighter breathing apparatus and climbing a ladder pitched against a tower block. More details

Social Housing Fire Risk Assessment

Only a quarter of social housing providers are confident that their blocks have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment in place. The figures were unveiled last month by Andy Cloke of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) at a Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conference. He told delegates that some fire risk assessments were not “worth the paper they are written on”, according to Inside Housing magazine. More details

Fire Service Rub Massage Parlour Up The Wrong Way

The manager of a massage parlour has been found guilty of five breaches of the Fire Safety Order 2005. Dawn Donoghue, 46, was ordered to do 60 hours unpaid community service as well as pay £240 in court costs for safety breaches at Scarlett’s, in Prestwich, Manchester.

Appearing at Bolton Crown Court on 8 July, Ms Donoghue pleaded guilty to five fire safety breaches, including a failure to provide an adequate fire alarm at the two-storey terraced building.

Fire safety officers, who audited the property in May last year, also found that there was no fire risk assessment made and a failure to provide a system of maintenance for firefighting equipment. There was no system of training in place for a responsible person, as well as no maintenance for the checking of fire exit doors.

Donoghue, who rented the premises, said she had thought fire regulations were the responsibility of the landlord. Despite this, the breaches were still her 'full responsibility,' Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said.

Care Home Concerns

Two recent reports have highlighted growing concerns about fire safety in care homes - one from The Guardian and the other from the BBC. Read the reports here

Talking Fire Extinguishers

Talking Fire Extinguishers

Talking fire extinguishers will be heading up a fire safety campaign to be shown in schools.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service has commissioned a video to teach primary school children about the importance of not playing with matches, as well as what to do in the event of a fire.

Freddy and Filbert’s Escape Plan II: The Refill replaces the original Freddy and Filbert’s Fire Escape Plan, which was released in the mid-1990s. The plot follows fire extinguishers Freddy, Filbert and Penelope as they learn how carelessness can lead to dangerous fires. It covers topics such as electrical safety, cooking safety, how to form an escape plan and what to do to escape from a fire. Source: Info4Fire

Local firm pays more than £100,000

Innovia Films Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after two workers suffered life-threatening injuries when they were engulfed by a ‘fireball’ at a factory in Wigton, Cumbria on 13 September 2006.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that on the previous day there was a small fire in a circuit compartment of an electrical distribution box at the factory. Workers put out the flames with a CO2 extinguisher and then re-routed the power supply to an undamaged switch so that cooling equipment, which is used to maintain production quality, could continue to operate. The following day, an engineer and an apprentice were asked to plate over the damaged circuit compartment to prevent it from being accessed until it had been properly inspected. They were removing debris from the compartment when an explosive arc of electrical energy engulfed them, setting their clothes on fire.

The engineer, who suffered burns to 47% of his body, was in a coma for four weeks, remained in hospital for five months and will never be able to return to work. The apprentice suffered 42% burns to his hands, arms and torso, and spent nine weeks in hospital. The court was told that a suitable risk assessment had not been carried out for the work, and that management at the company had allowed it to go ahead without the electricity supply being isolated.

In mitigation, the firm said it had taken immediate action, in the wake of the incident, to review its risk assessment and operating procedures. It now ensures that all engineering work is properly planned before a permit-to-work is issued. It had no previous convictions and told the court that it had a good safety record. Source: Info4Fire

July 2011

Lucky escape after explosion

Crews who were called out to reports of a small kitchen fire in Castleford got more than they bargained when they arrived on the scene.

Confronted with a string of small fires last week (8 July) in a row of six terraced houses, firefighters evacuated the occupants just seconds before an explosion tore through the row of homes. The drama was captured on a CCTV camera mounted on a fire engine.

Investigators found that the blast was caused after a piece of cable was cut from an overhead line. This affected the earthing of the electrical network in the area and resulted in ‘unusual electrical activity’, which affected some of the gas pipes in the properties. This resulted in the fires and explosion.

Ian Bitcon, senior operations response officer at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "If the house had exploded only seconds earlier, there is no doubt in my mind that it would have killed or seriously injured the occupants and the firefighters who were risking their lives to rescue them. We have already had one fatality as a result of cable theft. If people continue to tamper with equipment on the electricity network, it is only a matter of time before more people die.” Source: Info4Fire

Owl Leaves Its Mark

A woman returned to her Cumbrian home to find a near perfect imprint of an owl on her window. The bird had apparently crashed into the window of Sally Arnold's Kendal home, leaving the bizarre image - complete with eyes, beak and feathers.

Owl Leaves Its Mark

Experts said the silhouette was left by the bird's "powder down" - a substance protecting growing feathers. Mrs Arnold said she could find no sign of the owl, so assumed it had flown off without serious injury. She said: "Our first concern was for the welfare of what we suspected was an owl and we opened up the window to check if it was still around. Fortunately, there was no sign of the bird and we can only assume that it had flown away probably suffering from a headache."

Experts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) confirmed the bird was most likely a tawny owl because of its size and shape and the fact that they appear in gardens more regularly than others.

Val Osborne, head of the RSPB's wildlife inquiries team, said: "We don't very often see an imprint of a bird that's flown into a window that's this clear and where it's pretty obvious exactly what kind of bird it is. Source: BBC

Beko logo

Fridge-freezer Fire Risk

London Fire Brigade has issued an urgent warning about the fire risk of certain fridge-freezers, following confirmation that a blaze last week in a London tower block was caused by a faulty appliance.

Beko fridge-freezers manufactured between January 2000 and October 2006 are at the centre of the safety warning, and it is thought as many as 500,000 could be in use. London Fire Brigade say there have been 20 fires in the capital alone involving the fridge freezers since 2008, which have seen one person die and 15 people injured.

Owners of the appliances are asked to contact Beko on 0800 009 4837. A list of faulty model numbers can be found here. The same recall applies to a model badged LEC fridge freezer.

In a statement, Beko plc said that since becoming aware of the issue, the company has been working to identify the fault and the best method of reaching all affected consumers to arrange a modification. Beko recall notice
Source: Info4Fire

June 2011

Fire helicopter on trial

Fire helicopter on trial

Firefighters have taken to the skies this month as part of a trial to find out whether a helicopter can be used to respond to certain emergencies.

A crew of four firefighters from Avon Fire and Rescue Service were flown to the scene of a range of simulated emergencies, including building collapses, water rescues and road traffic collisions. While the other emergency services use helicopters, it is believed this is the first such trial by a fire service in the UK.

“This year the fire and rescue service has suffered some of the most hard-hitting Government cuts,” said Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, Kevin Pearson. “This has forced us to look at alternative ways to provide an emergency response to the public." Mr Pearson said he would never expect helicopters to replace fire engines, but there was a financial and operational case that an aircraft could be used to support existing equipment and vehicles. Source: Info4Fire

Shell fined £1m after gas terminal blast

Shell fined £1m after gas terminal blast

Shell UK Limited has pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety and environmental legislation following an explosion and fire at Bacton gas terminal in 2008. The company was fined a total of £1 million and ordered to pay £242,000 costs.

The court heard how, at the time of the explosion – which was shortly before 6 pm in the water treatment plant - daytime personnel were returning to offices to prepare for shift handovers. The blast blew the concrete roof off a buffering tank within the plant, hurling concrete and metal debris over a large area and sucking a nearby drain out of the ground, the HSE said.

Investigators traced the cause of the explosion to a leak of highly flammable hydrocarbon liquid into a part of the plant responsible for treating waste water before discharging it into the sea.

The leak was caused by the failure of a corroded metal separator vessel, which allowed water contaminated with the highly flammable condensate to enter a concrete storage tank where it was heated by an electric heater. The heater’s elements were exposed within the tank, raising the surface temperature significantly causing the explosion and fire.
Bacton is operated by several energy companies and houses gas processing plants along with the Interconnector system feeding gas between Britain and Europe.

The court heard that during the incident there was an unauthorised release into the North Sea of 850 tonnes of firefighting water and foam which ought to have been prevented. Source: Info4Fire

Narrow escape captured on CCTV

In September last year, an unnamed firefighter from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service was just seconds away from being caught by falling debris from a derelict building. His near-miss was captured by a camera fixed to a fire appliance that was travelling towards the building.

£3.5m animal rescue bill

Fire and rescue services have spent at least £3.5 million on rescuing animals in the past three years, according to a BBC investigation. The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.

The programme found out that figures from the 25 fire services that responded show that over 17,000 animals have been rescued by crews over the last three years. Calls included a snail “stuck” on an 8ft wall and trapped seagulls.

Apart from the more predictable cats, dogs and horses, firefighters also rescued 1,244 seagulls, 159 pigeons, 57 swans and 12 parrots in the past three years. In addition there were 26 foxes, 19 squirrels, seven ferrets and seven badgers, ten hamsters, 15 snakes, 11 fish and seven dolphins. Source: Info4Fire

Bright sparks burn GCSE books

Bright sparks burn GCSE books

GCSE students who set alight to their textbooks while celebrating the end of their exams inadvertently started a grass fire that threatened a nearby primary school.

An appliance from Torquay was called to attend the fire, on the grounds of Torquay Girls' Grammar School on 25 May. It was believed to be threatening a nearby primary school, a fire service spokesman said. A crew arrived on site at 12.34 pm. The fire was out by 1pm after firefighters beat the flames.

It is thought to have been down to the burning of GCSE books. Source: Info4Fire

Cheese fire causes meltdown

Cheese fire causes meltdown

A lorry containing 24 tonnes of cheese caught fire on a rural road in Somerset yesterday morning. Four fire crews fought the putrid blaze, which forced the closure of the A359 at Galhampton Hill, near Castle Cary.

"The fire was spreading rapidly through the articulated lorry, subsequently setting the cheese alight," said a spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue. "The fire is believed to have been caused by a fault on the lorry, which was on its way to the garage to get the fault fixed at the time it caught fire."

Police and firefighters spent three hours afterwards clearing the mess to allow the road to re-open. Source: Info4Fire

B&B couple pay thousands for blocking fire safety inspectors

Mr Richard Williams-Allen, 70 and Mrs Lesley Williams-Allen, 64, of The Laurels bed and breakfast, Inchbrook, Nailsworth, both pleaded guilty to obstructing fire safety inspectors trying to inspect their property to ensure it was safe. as well as failing to provide information about the property.

Mr Williams-Allen was fined £350 and ordered to pay costs of £1,650. Mrs Williams-Allen was fined £250 and ordered to pay further costs of £1,650. They were also ordered to each pay a £15 victim surcharge.

In April 2010, the couple refused a fire safety inspector access to The Laurels to carry out an inspection. Over a six-month period, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service "made reasonable and repeated attempts" to arrange a visit but on each occasion, the owners refused to co-operate, the court heard.

Tally Giampa, head of fire safety enforcement and risk at the fire service said: "It is very unusual for us to be forced into this course of action as the vast majority of owners of commercial premises understand how important it is that their properties are inspected to ensure they comply with fire safety laws." Source: Info4Fire

A Fire Risk Assessment is a simple, cost-effective way of ensuring your property is compliant with the Fire Safety Order.

May 2011

New Case Study - Beaminster School

Flexible online fire safety training from Safety Management (UK) (SMUK) recently proved very useful for a school staff training day. Beaminster School (Dorset) were the first school to run a staff training event using our new online training package. More details

Call for European hotel fire safety law

A European MP has called for Europe-wide legislation to bring all hotels up to a designated standard, in the wake of last week’s £80,000 fine on O & C Holdsworth plc, the owners of the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay. Graham Watson, MEP for South West England, said each year, millions of people travelled and stayed in hotels throughout Europe, yet there was no legislation on a European level to protect them.

He said previous attempts to get an agreed code of practice failed, as did an initiative by the European Parliament to mandate the installation of sprinklers in hotels. But in the light of the Penhallow case and the fact that the Lisbon Treaty now recognises tourism as a “core part of European Union business”, it was perhaps time to revisit the idea.

Watch the video online - Info4Fire

Landlord given suspended prison sentence

A residential landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay more than £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Fire Safety Order. Inderjit Singh was given a six month sentence to be served concurrently on each of the four offences, suspended for 18 months.

Following a fire in March 2009 at a house in multiple occupation in Hayes, west London, investigators found there were no fire alarms or detection in the common areas of the property, inadequate fire doors and that no fire risk assessment had been carried out. In the nine month period leading up to the fire, Hillingdon Council had contacted Mr Singh about fire safety and general improvements to the property, according to London Fire Brigade.

“This verdict sends out a clear message that if landlords ignore fire safety then they will face serious penalties,” said Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation. “Mr. Singh was given plenty of time to improve fire safety inside the property but failed to comply. Source: Info4Fire

Church burned by arson next door

A church that was badly damaged by a fire that started in a neighbouring property has launched a legal battle over the alleged negligence of the management of fire alarms.

In 2008 a fire that started at a hostel in Shepherd’s Bush, London, spread to the nearby century-old Shepherd's Bush Tabernacle church and almost completely destroyed its roof. Fire alarms at the hostel were allegedly repeatedly silenced by one of the residents. The owners of the church, the Great Commission Ministry, have now launched a legal battle with The Carr Gomm Society, the charity that runs the hostel.

It claims the charity sublet bedrooms in the hostel to people who had a history of substance abuse, mental health issues and self-harming. It says the charity was “negligent” as it failed to make sure that the alarm system was secure. Following the fire, resident Jennifer Morrow was found guilty of deliberately setting fire to the building. Source: Info4Fire

Pub struck by lightning

Wheatsheaf pub in Coton

An unused pub may have to be demolished after it was struck by lightning causing a severe fire. Crews were called to the empty Wheatsheaf pub in Coton, near Stone, on 9 May just before 1915 BST.

A spokesman for Staffordshire fire service said crews had been faced with a severe fire involving the roof and both floors of the property. He added a family living next door had had to leave their property until the fire was brought under control. The building has now been deemed unsafe to enter. Source: BBC

Oxfam centre destroyed in blaze

Around 70 firefighters have tackled a huge fire which has destroyed an Oxfam clothing recycling centre in Huddersfield. Crews found the building well alight with thick and acrid smoke pouring out when they arrived.

Fire crews used two ground monitors, two large jets and two aerial ladder platforms to tackle the blaze. A structural engineer was called in to assess the damaged building amid fears it was about to collapse. The fire was brought under control after eight hours.

The centre employs around 70 people, according to the Huddersfield Examiner, some of whom were in tears as they turned out to see the fire. Source: Info4Fire

April 2011

Suspended prison sentences for developers

Two property developers have each received suspended prison sentences for breaching fire regulations at a Dublin apartment block.

Thomas McFeely was last week given a six-month suspended sentence and fined 3000 Euros, and Laurence O’Mahony was sentenced to one month suspended and fined 1,000 Euros for fire safety breaches at the Priory Hall apartment complex.

Dublin District Court was told that the breaches included a lack of automated opening vents in common areas, exposed gas pipes and a lack of vents in the basement car parks. Source: Info4Fire

First official guidance on selecting fire risk assessors

Detailed guidance on selecting suitably competent fire risk assessors has for the first time been made available on a Government website (details here)

The article talks eloquently about the benefits of third part certification, something Safety Management has been advocating for several years now in the Fire Risk Assessment industry. Whilst the article covers Scotland, there is no reason that other UK based companies should not take this sound advice when selecting their fire risk assessors.

Whilst you as the building owner/occupier will always retain responsibility, this is one way you can reduce your own exposure and gain some peace of mind that your assessors are what they say they are.

We have recently become an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers. This means we will be able to provide accreditation for our assessors and peace of mind to you. More details

New personal air con New personal air con

A team of scientists are working to bring an innovative personal air conditioning unit to market.

Designed to be worn about the person, the product has been made for firefighters and other people likely to be working in extreme heat. It has been developed by Brazilian company, Embraco, which is owned by American refrigerator and washing machine manufacturer, Whirlpool.

The product is around four inches long and can be sewn into the fabric of clothing, such as the uniforms of firefighters or soldiers.Hot air will be sucked into a thin steel case to be cooled by a microcompressor. It will then propelled out through a network of thin tubes in the clothing - cooling down the wearer. Source: Info4Fire

IFSM Affiliate Member IFSM Affiliate Member

Safety Management UK is now an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers. More details

March 2011

Tower block enforcement notice following fatal fire

A south London tower block is the subject of an enforcement notice following a fire last month on the sixteenth floor in which two people died.

London Fire Brigade have released details of the enforcement notice, which was served on 15 February on Lewisham Homes, owners of the Marine Tower block in Deptford.

The enforcement notice sets out breaches of five articles of the Fire Safety Order. These include a failure to review the fire risk assessment, inadequate protection of emergency escape routes, inadequate maintenance of fire doors, and failure to establish an appropriate emergency plan.

Lewisham Homes has been given until 15 August to complete the work to ensure compliance. Following the fire, resident Sandra Clarke was charged with manslaughter and two counts of arson. Source: Info4Fire

Safe evacuation during prison blaze

Erlestoke Prison

Dozens of prisoners at a Wiltshire prison were rescued from a blaze that came a month after wardens received fire safety training.

Prison staff safely moved 40 inmates after a fire broke out in a first floor room of a two-storey building at Erlestoke Prison on 9 March. They were moved to another part of the facility.

A call was made to Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service just after 9 am. Around 15 firefighters attended the blaze, using a mechanical fan to clear smoke from the building and a thermal imaging camera to check for fire spread.

The fire service had undertaken a training exercise with the staff at Erlestoke Prison in January this year. Source: Info4Fire

Squirrels to Blame

Squirrels to Blame

Electric cables chewed through by squirrels are a common cause of house fires and causing thousands of pounds in damage.

This is according to a Surrey pest control company that says it is gearing up for its annual “surge” in calls to deal with squirrel problems as March sees the furry creatures starting nests in lofts across the country.

Cleankill Pest Control said that rather than being “cute and cuddly,” squirrels nesting in lofts cause more problems than rats. It cited a case last year in which a £400,000 bungalow in Hertfordshire was destroyed after squirrels chewed through wires.

Paul Bates, managing director of Cleankill, said: “People think that squirrels are cute and cuddly but they actually cause more problems than rats. Squirrels are very determined creatures and once they enter your loft it is very difficult to get them out and keep them out.” Source: Info4Fire

February 2011

False Alarm Parrot

False Alarm Parrot

An escaped pet parrot drove a woman mad by imitating a smoke alarm sounding off outside her house.

African grey Congo parrot Sammi, decided to perch in Shanna Sexton’s garden, in Devon, after fleeing its cage.The bird then repeatedly whistled in the same pitch as Ms Sexton’s smoke alarm.

“I’d been hearing this noise for ages. It was really annoying me. I looked around the house, checking everything. I even pulled out the washing machine. In the end, a workman said it sounded like it may be my smoke alarm.”

However, the mystery was solved when they found Sammi chirping on a water butt on Ms Sexton’s lawn. The parrot was then reunited with her owner, who had posted several flyers around Torquay. Source: Info4Fire

Fire volcano in residential street

Residents were forced to flee their homes on Monday morning after a mini volcano erupted on their street.

A gas leak which had been ignited by nearby electric cables had caused a jet of fire to spurt up from the road. A firefighter from Mitcham Fire and Rescue told Your Local that the fire resembled a “mini volcano”.

“Gas leaks, to be honest, are quite common but you very seldom see it create a fire of this sort. Luckily no one was injured but it was obviously frightening for many of people who had to stand out on the street in their dressing gowns.”

Around six homes in Homefield Gardens, Mitcham, had to be evacuated following the incident. Source: Info4Fire

Expensive New Year firework show

A massive fire has destroyed a five-star hotel, in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

The hotel was evacuated by around 50 people, according to local news source, Xinhuanet news. The fire broke out in the early hours of 3 February, after fireworks set off to celebrate the Chinese New Year sparked against the exterior of the building. Flames quickly spread through two towers in the high-rise complex, reports said.

Pump jets could not shoot water higher than 50 metres, though the building was 219 metres tall. It is one of the tallest structures in the city. Source: Info4Fire

Teenager scoops innovation award

Teenager scoops innovation award

An 18-year-old has been presented with an innovation award by BRE ventures, part of the BRE Group, for his flame detector – a fire detection system designed for use in kitchens.

The CookerSmart IR Kitchen Flame Detector identifies risk by reading specific infra-red frequency bands of flame flicker. While made specifically for use in kitchens to try and reduce false alarms caused by smoke, it can also be used in other areas, like garages. James Popper, a student, first thought up the idea after a fire ruined the kitchen of a family friend.

“Even though more fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home, there are currently no effective detectors that can be situated there. Existing devices, such as smoke alarms, cannot function successfully in the kitchen due to the prevalence of false alarms,” Popper said.

“CookerSmart overcomes this fundamental problem with an innovative detection method. Instead of sensing for the presence of smoke, it detects fires in their infancy by identifying the infra-red flicker of their flame and analysing and responding to specific frequency bands of flame flicker.”

CookerSmart has attracted attention from a fire and rescue service and the Fire Protection Association. Source: Info4Fire

January 2011

Hotel fire alarm praised

Hotel fire alarm praised

A fire alarm system has been praised for providing early detection of a blaze in a plant room at a Hampshire hotel.

Station commander Ryan Thomas, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that without the fire alarm, he had “no doubt” the fire would have spread to the roof of the Beach Arms Hotel in Basingstoke.

“If the hotel not had a well-maintained smoke alarm system, I have no doubt that this fire could potentially have spread beyond the room of origin and seriously damaged the roof of the hotel, if not the whole building,” he said. "The effective evacuation of staff and hotel residents at today’s incident should be commended, as should the successful actions of the fire crews that tackled the blaze.”

More than 30 firefighters attended the fire, which started in the building’s boiler room on the first floor.The alarm was raised just after midday and police cordoned off the area to allow firefighters in with an aerial ladder platform, a special equipment unit and an incident command unit. Source: Info4Fire

Lancashire schools fall short

A total of 13 Lancashire schools have been rapped for failing to meet fire safety standards over the past two years.

Two schools were handed alterations notices to ensure they complied with the Fire Safety Order 2005, while 13 others were found with inadequate fire safety protection. Sacred Heart school, Jamea Masjid (Madrasah), St Patrick’s RC primary, Trumacar Community primary and Al Islah private school were all found to be performing "inadequate fire risk assessments.”

Fire investigators found that staff at the school were not trained adequately to cope in the event of a fire, and that the building’s fire alarms and emergency lighting had not been maintained in accordance with legislation.

However, Richard Stott, general manager at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, told This is Lancashire that the findings were “minor” and that the schools did not receive prohibition or restriction notices. He said: “Schools in Lancashire generally have an excellent fire safety record and meet the requirements of the law. Inevitably however with such a large number of schools and varying standards and ages of building stock some have been issued with formal or informal notices in order to address any shortfalls. Source: Info4Fire

Emmerdale blaze spearheads arson awareness plea

Emmerdale blaze spearheads arson awareness plea

As TV soap fans were gripped by the dramatic fire in Emmerdale recently, firefighters from West Yorkshire – where the fictional village is located – are urging people to take some simple steps to reduce the chances of becoming an arson victim.

Craig McIntosh, director of fire safety at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Wheelie bins and piles of rubbish left outside are fuel for arsonists. When they are left close to buildings there is potential for the fire to spread, which can lead to devastating damage to property and even the tragic loss of life. Although in Emmerdale the fire setter deliberately targets a particular home, it goes to show how quickly fire can spread from a pile of rubbish outside to the actual property.” Source: Info4Fire

Alcohol wipes catch fire

A factory that makes antiseptic wipes caught fire on Wednesday 12 January.

The NicePak warehouse, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was burning for around five hours before firefighters managed to extinguish the flames. Around 150 crew members fought the fire, which was discovered at 11 am following the sounding of an automatic alarm.

A sprinkler system is believed to have helped reduce fire spread, but cold conditions made the fire difficult to tackle. Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation. Large rolls of wet wipes had to be removed from the warehouse using forklifts to locate which ones were on fire. Source: Info4Fire

National Hotel Safety Conference

National Hotel Safety Conference

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is hosting a national conference to highlight the impact a fire can have on the hotel industry when faced with evacuating disabled and vulnerable people.

The event is a must attend for anyone who is involved with Fire Protection or the management of health & safety within the hotel industry, and takes place at Crewe Hall in Crewe, Cheshire, on Tuesday February 1. More details


Every time Matthew Newman went on holiday he had visions of his house burning down while he was away. And being new to the area, he worried that nobody would be able to reach him because his whereabouts would be unknown. So he decided to fit a smoke alarm. He says: "As I fitted it I thought, it's useless because even if I'm at the back of the garden with the door shut I'm not going to hear it."

Fitting a mains-powered alarm that sent a text message when the smoke detector went off wasn't an option—he needed a standalone unit. But there wasn't anything on the market in November 2008, so he spoke to an electrical design company about making a prototype.

At the start of 2009 Newman applied for the East of England Development Agency's proof of concept scheme. He received £6,000 funding to build 30 units, which have undergone trials at the Alzheimer's Society and the Hertfordshire Fire Authority. His system is now in production and he plans to start selling alarms this month. "My ambition is to sell 2,000 units this year and within five years to be selling 1,000 units a month. I have a distributor in Australia, and then I'll be looking to emigrate to the US and sell the product there," he says. Source: Director Magazine

Toasted Naan

Toasted Naan

Around 20 firefighters were called to a fire at Honeytop Foods factory in Dunstable on 1 January.

It started in an industrial bread oven at Woodside Industrial Estate, but quickly spread from the oven flue into the building’s roof void. Firefighters, who were called just before 5pm, used an aerial ladder platform to help them douse the flames.

Dunstable station commander Mark Barter said: "The oven was not being used for production but was undergoing some sort of maintenance apparently when the fire started. Staff attempted to put the fire out but dialled 999 as they realised they needed the fire service. Our crews did an excellent job in containing the fire - it could have been much worse."

Honeytop produces naans and flatbreads that are sold in large UK supermarkets and across Europe. Source: Info4Fire

Sprinklers Save The Day!

A house in Trowbridge escaped being badly damaged by fire last week, thanks to the activation of a domestic sprinkler system.

Fire crews were called to the property shortly after 6.30pm, but found the blaze had been extinguished by sprinklers. The Studley Green estate is said to have been the first housing development in Europe to be fitted with domestic sprinklers following its rebuild in 1999.

“This is the third time that the sprinklers at Studley Green have done their job, and it is heartening to know that so little fire damage was caused,” said chief fire officer, Andy Goves. “It is quite clear that this would have developed into a significant fire had the sprinklers not activated, affecting the bedroom and potentially the whole top floor of the house." Source: Info4Fire

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Good job, very nice people and happy with the work SMUK do for us (Bank of China)

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