Fire Alarms Throughout History

Before Fire Alarms

Thousands of years ago, before quick and efficient communication methods were invented, fires were reported as and when they were found, often when they were out of control. The Corps of Vigiles were created in 6 AD by Caesar Augustus in an attempt to address the fires that blazed on an almost constant basis throughout Rome. This newly founded brigade consisted of regular men, who patrolled the streets on lookout for fires, armed only with buckets of water.

Unfortunately, this method, although the first step in the right direction, was largely ineffective. Because there were no other ways to prevent fires or detect them as they broke out the brigade often arrived too late to be of any substantial use.

Eventually, the method of raising the alarm evolved. During the 19th century bell towers came into effect as a city wide alert system. They were placed in central locations in an effort to maximise their effectiveness at mobilising units in charge of fighting fires. However, this evolution in fire alarms was limited in its effectiveness by underdeveloped communication methods as the alarm, even with specific ringing patterns to denote a general location, could not reduce response times enough to save properties and lives.

The Invention

With the invention of the telegraph, the first iteration of long distance communication systems, the opportunity to create a more accurate fire alarm and reporting system. In 1852, in Boston, Massachusetts the system of the centralised bell tower transformed into a central station (which is essentially what would evolve into the emergency dispatchers we know today!) The basic function of this station would be to receive word of a fire sent from a box in a neighbourhood, ring the bell, and notify the responders as to which area they need to travel to. Due to this new method, response times drastically lowered due to the more accurate ability to locate the fire before it got out of control.

While this contributed to enhancing fire safety in homes and businesses, firefighting was still dependent on someone spotting a fire, reporting it, and then mobilising the fire department all while the fire continued to burn.

The key is detection which didn’t truly begin to be effective until electricity came into play. Other detection tools, such as the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, were created at the start of the 20th century and eventually became crucial parts of contemporary fire alarm systems. Despite the fact that the technology had been developed more than a century earlier, homes and businesses could not always afford to purchase or operate these enormous or expensive machines. Before taking on the design we are accustomed to today, the contemporary fire alarm system required advancements in manufacturing and fire alarm technology.

Today

Only ten years after being created in 1965, battery-powered, cost-effective smoke detectors were being mass-produced for household use. Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors were produced on a large scale in the early 1990s and the first devices that detected both smoke and carbon monoxide were introduced to the market in 1996.

For the first time in recorded history, both workplaces and private residences could simultaneously notify residents to a fire on the premises and transmit the notification to a control panel. During this time, the creation of central stations that could accurately identify specific locations and alarm signals and convey them to the proper dispatchers and fire departments was heavily emphasised. In order to put out flames before they could turn into the block-burning inferno of the past, firefighting strategies radically changed from putting out declining fires to putting out fires while they were developing. Over the course of the last fifty years, fire fatalities have decreased consistently as a result of this remarkable change.

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So now you see the importance of the modern fire alarm system in the early detection and eventual dousing of a fire. It is imperative to have fire alarms installed and well maintained in your home and business. If you are interested in, or require, fire alarm installation, servicing, maintenance, or any of the other products and services we offer please do not hesitate to get in touch. Call us today on 01733 602955 or fill out our online contact form.

8 Common Fire Hazard Mistakes

1) Leaving the Stove Unattended

Leaving food on a stovetop or open flame unattended can lead to fires. Holidays have a higher incidence of cooking fires than any other day of the year because hosts are frequently distracted by the increased noise in their home.

2) Poor Use of Extension Leads

Overusing an extension cord, which is especially dangerous around holidays when outside decorations are in use.

-Connecting many extension cords together to lengthen them.
-Running extension wires through doorways or under carpets.
-Use extension wires to plug in huge equipment like refrigerators and washing machines

Solution:
-Extension cords are not intended to be a long-term solution. For maximum safety, have a professional install supplementary circuits or sockets so you can completely do away with extension cords.
-Major appliances should be plugged into a wall socket that can support their voltage and wattage.
-Purchase the rope that is the right length for your project after measuring it.

Dirty Chimneys

In the months when they are not in use, animals can create nests in chimneys and twigs and other flammable material can accumulate. If a fireplace is used frequently, a material called creosote can accumulate and become extremely flammable.

Leaving Lights On

It raises your electricity bill and poses a fire risk to leave lights on while you are away. If not utilised properly, lightbulbs can get quite hot and start a fire.

Solution:
-When leaving the house, unplug any superfluous lighting.
-Install sensor-controlled outdoor lighting so that it turns on only when necessary. This will help you save electricity.
-Follow all safety instructions for holiday décor.

Candles

Candles provide fantastic lighting and pleasant scents for your home. They are, however, very dangerous as well, particularly if they are left unattended.

Solution:
-Use flameless or battery-operated candles instead than having an open flame. There are many various items that melt wax.
-Keep flammable things away from candles.
-Place the candle(s) in a secure location so they won’t be unintentionally knocked over or tipped over.
-Use fire-resistant and secure candle holders when using candles.

DIY Electrical Works

DIY projects, as home television networks, home repair programmes, and online research become more accessible, are becoming more prevalent. However, other tasks, like your electrical work, should be left to experts. Do not attempt to perform your own electrical work if you are not a qualified or licenced electrician. Numerous actions and safety measures must be implemented. Hiring a certified or licensed professional electrician to finish the work is the only way to solve this issue.

Smoking Indoors

Smoking is still prevalent, despite the fact that laws, regulations, and health studies have contributed to a drop in smoking generally (and specifically smoking inside). A cigarette can readily set off combustible things, making smoking indoors extremely dangerous in addition to the health problems it brings.

Solutions:
-Smoke outside.
-Put out a cigarette with sand or water.
-Avoid smoking if you’re feeling drowsy, drunk, or on any other drugs because these conditions might impair your judgement and make it possible for you to “forget” that you’re holding a cigarette in your hand.

Appliances

The safety requirements and features have probably changed and been improved recently, just as with any outdated equipment. Utilising obsolete or old appliances might be risky since they could not adhere to current safety standards.

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So, if you are looking for fire alarm installation, maintenance, or any of our other products or services please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Call us today on 01733 602955 or alternatively fill in our simple online contact form.

Fire Safety Regulations for UK Businesses + How to Comply

We here at Swift Fire and Safety understand the importance of complying with UK fire safety regulations, but we also know that there are lots of things to consider in order to make sure that happens. In the blog below we will discuss what the fire safety regulations are and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that you and your business are completely up to date with all necessary fire prevention and detection methods.

Fire Legislation

Understanding that it is their responsibility to adhere to UK fire safety standards is imperative for business owners as repercussions for failing to do so can be severe.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005 incorporates all laws pertaining to fire safety in business properties in England and Wales. It gives people in charge of putting safety safeguards and processes in place, such as fire risk assessments and fire safety gear, explicit instructions.

Here, we examine who is ultimately in charge of ensuring fire safety on commercial property and outline the steps that a “responsible person” is required by law to do.

Fire Risk Assessment

Documented fire risk assessments are required for any organisations with more than four employees. All fire safety protocols and preventative measures are built on a fire risk assessment.

There are five main areas you must consider when undertaking a fire risk assessment, the first of which being identifying potential fire hazards. This can include the location of heaters and the type of materials the building is made up of. Secondly, it is important to make a note of who is most at risk should a fire break out. There may be people with mobility issues or perhaps there are some people who work in more remote parts of the premises. Once any risks have been identified it is important to evaluate the risk and take any steps necessary to mitigate it whether that be fire prevention or detection. Once these things have been decided on and recorded a plan can be set up. Evacuation routes should be finalised and roles should be assigned to various members of staff who have received sufficient training. Finally, when all of this has been completed the assessment must be regularly reviewed to accommodate changing circumstances.

Fire Safety Equipment and Signs

You will require any or all of the following, though specific needs vary depending on each company’s fire risk:

1) A properly maintained fire extinguisher
2) A fire detection system
3) A sprinkler system
4) Emergency lighting

Fire Safety Log Book

It is imperative to have one of these log books as it is required to have one on a business’ premises at all times. The fire authority will inspect this book to ensure that you have been following the proper fire safety regulations. Additionally, you must document any fire-related occurrences’ specifics, including how they were handled and whether any injuries were reported.

Enforcement Notices

Depending on how seriously you disobeyed a fire safety inspection, the fire authorities may issue you with several notices. These consist of:

Alterations Notice

These are issued to premises representing a high safety risk

Enforcement Notice

This will refer to a major problem found by the fire authority during an inspection and provide a deadline for resolving it.

Prohibition Notice

A restriction notice will restrict or forbid access to your premises if there is an urgent threat to life from fire.

Ramifications

Some less significant fire code violations are still subject to fines of up to £5,000, with potential financial consequences for serious offences being unlimited and can also lead to up to two years in prison.

In the event of a fire, even if there has been no injuries, your business can suffer many detrimental effects. The inability to keep up with clients and orders often means that there is a substantial hit to a company’s reputation and can lead to insolvency over time.

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Making sure that you and your business are in line with all current UK fire safety regulations is imperative. So, if you are in need of a professional fire risk assessment, fire extinguishers, fire detection systems or any of the other services we offer please do not hesitate to contact us. Call us today on 01733 602 955 or fill out our simple online contact form.