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.

Who is responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation?

In recent years, fire safety legislation has been optimised so that all responsibilities are assigned to the right people. Building owners and landlords must comply with all regulations and ensure their buildings are maintained and the occupants remain safe. The main piece of legislation for fire safety in the UK is the Fire Regulatory Safety Order. And the responsibility of enforcing this legislation usually lies with local fire and rescue authorities (FRAs), though the Health and Safety Executive holds responsibility for construction sites and for ships that are undergoing construction or repair.

Being responsible for fire safety requires business owners to provide an in-depth and transparent overview of the condition of their building, and a risk assessment detailing that all necessary steps have been taken to reduce the risk of fire. In this article, we’ll outline exactly who is responsible for fire safety in a building. We’ll also define the rights of the relevant authorities when enforcing fire safety legislation.

If you have concerns about fire safety regulation compliance, you should contact your local FRA in the first instance. Your local fire service will be able to point you in their direction.

The FRA employs inspectors, who can carry out the following to enforce the Regulatory Fire and Safety Order:

  • Enter the premises to carry out an inspection
  • Identify those that are responsible for maintaining fire safety protocol
  • Expect the compliance and assistance of the responsible person/s with the inspection
  • Evaluate compliance with all the necessary provisions specific to the Regulatory Fire and Safety order
  • Request access to any mandatory records and plans, such as documentation relating to the building’s most recent Fire Risk Assessment
  • Take material samples from premises to ascertain their safety/flammability
  • If anything is found to be unsafe, inspectors can order them to be dismantled, destroyed, or tested further.

Who is responsible for fire safety in commercial buildings?

Whoever is in control of commercial premises is responsible for fire safety. For most commercial spaces that means the responsibility lies with the employer. This means they must carry out a thorough, written Fire Risk Assessment and regularly review it.

The fire risk assessment will:

  • Identify the fire hazards
  • Identify people at risk
  • Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk

You’ll need to record your findings if you have 5 employees or more. You’ll also need to prepare an emergency plan and provide training.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Emergency routes and exits
  • Fire detection and warning systems
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • The removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
  • An emergency fire evacuation plan
  • The needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
  • Providing information to employees and other people on the premises
  • Staff fire safety training

You can complete the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of standard fire safety risk assessment guides. If you don’t have the expertise or time to complete this yourself, then you’ll need to appoint a ‘competent person’ to help, for example a professional risk assessor.

Your local fire and rescue authority may be able to give you advice, but they cannot carry out risk assessments for you.

Some commercial property leases specify that it is the duty of the landlord to be responsible for common spaces such as stairways, reception areas and fire safety systems such as alarms and fire doors. We advise landlords to speak to a specialist landlord solicitor to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as commercial property owners.

Swift Fire & Safety is passionate about fire protection, safety, and compliance. Want to find out more about our specialist fire protection services? Contact our team of specialists today.

How to Prevent Fire in Factories and Warehouses

Fire safety cannot be neglected anywhere, but when it comes to factories and warehouses, your business’ main assets are at risk as well as the lives of your staff. Whether it’s your stock or machinery, even a small fire could have catastrophic effects on your revenue and productivity.

Fires start for many reasons, but some of the most common causes of fire in these spaces include electrical faults, spillages, use of hazardous stock or materials, improper use of heating equipment and arson. Kitchens and staff rooms present an increased risk.

To help you prevent fires in your warehouse or factory, in line with your duty as set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, we’ve put together our best fire prevention tips for you, specifically tailored to these spaces. If you’d like to learn more about fire safety for your premises, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Swift Fire & Safety.

1. Fire Risk Assessments

Fire risk assessments should be carried out frequently for maintenance and also when any major changes occur to your premises. These will provide you with an overview of the hazards, the people at risk, the training required and the steps to take to reduce risks.

2. PAT Testing

All portable electrical equipment needs to be in good condition and suitable for use. Regular PAT testing will help you identify the potential dangers so that you can resolve them before they cause any damages.

3. Frequent Equipment Maintenance

All machinery, large or small, requires regular maintenance checks in order to spot faults and prevent fires.

4. Fire Extinguishers

Imperative to any fire safety plan, you need to have the correct extinguisher class in place, and they must be in good working order, to combat the unique hazards posed in your warehouse or factory. Staff must also have regular training, so that they feel confident in choosing the right extinguisher and know how to use them when tackling small fires.

5. Fire Alarms

Fire alarms are an extremely effective way of alerting people to a fire. Early detection protects lives. A good fire alarm system will locate the source of a fire in larger buildings and can be tailored to your building’s layout.

6. Fire Doors

Fire doors help to slow the spread of fire and smoke and protect key evacuation routes. Different resistance times are available based on your requirements.

7. Fire Signage

Photoluminescent signs highlight dangers and provide instructions concerning fire safety. This provides greater awareness for your warehouse or factory staff.

8. Fire Warden Training

You must always have a nominated, competent person in your workplace to implement fire safety. Fire warden training is the best way to give them the knowledge and skills they’ll need to carry out this role out effectively as per the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

9. Sprinkler Systems

There are a number of different sprinkler systems available depending on what best meets your needs, but all types will help to manage a blaze should the worst happen.

10. Emergency Lighting

When a fire compromises your building, emergency lighting kicks in to illuminate safe exit routes, helping to save lives.

At Swift Fire & Safety, we provide a wide range of services for factory and warehouse fire prevention. For everything from fire risk assessments to PAT testing, protect your staff and your business by contacting our professional team today.

What to do in the event of a hospital fire

Fire awareness training and risk assessments are an essential part of any business. Having these in place ensures that your employees know what the hazards and fire risks are within your workplace. Training teaches staff ways to reduce these risks, what to do in the event of a fire, and how to identify those that are high risk in a fire situation.

In a hospital, there are always many people who are extremely vulnerable if a fire breaks out. There are often many people there who are unable to move by themselves or people for whom smoke inhalation poses more of a health risk.

A hospital is also potentially a relatively hazardous environment. They are filled with large amounts of electrical equipment, mobile equipment and most significantly many sources of oxygen, other compressed gases and chemicals. This creates a higher fire risk than usual as well as a dangerous environment for evacuation and fire suppression.

So how do hospitals handle fire situations?

One of the most important elements of dealing with a hospital fire is communication. Staff must be fully and regularly trained on how to handle a fire situation so that they are well prepared should one break out. They attend multiple training days annually and prepare for numerous scenarios. Staff are always also aware of exactly where patients are and what their condition is. The nature of the fire alarm is also clearly communicated to all staff either before or during the alarm – whether it be a test, drill or genuine fire. This allows hospital staff to react at the appropriate level. For example, they wouldn’t evacuate an unstable patient for a simple drill. However, it’s important that drills are carried out regularly so that staff have practised their evacuation procedure thoroughly.

Alarms are ‘coded’ to indicate the area of the fire. Areas close to the fire have a different alarm sound than areas that are further away. As an example, the zone that contains the fire will usually have a continuously sounding alarm, letting staff know that they should act immediately and efficiently. Nearby zones will sound an intermittent alarm, indicating that staff should be alert and prepare for an impending evacuation.

This is where compartmentation comes in. Hospitals and most other large buildings are divided into compartments that can withstand a fire for a particular amount of time. This fire barrier gives occupants a chance to be evacuated and provides time for the emergency services to arrive and extinguish the fire.

Due to compartmentation or ‘zoning’, a hospital can have a horizontal phased evacuation. This means that those who can be evacuated, from the zone that contains the fire, or those closest, without assistance will be evacuated immediately. In a zone that contains a fire, patients who are difficult to move can be relocated to an adjacent compartment. This means patients only need to be moved a short distance if necessary, and this drastically reduces the dangers of being away from life support machinery during an emergency.

When the emergency services arrive, they will assess the situation and establish the scale of the evacuation that is needed, if indeed an evacuation is needed at all. Should fragile patients need to be evacuated due to the scale of the fire, this can be facilitated by emergency fire services.

If you are in hospital as a patient or visitor and a fire breaks out, the best thing that you can do is to stay calm and listen intently to the instructions of the hospital staff and the fire services when they arrive. Trust that these people are well prepared for this event, that they know exactly what to do and that there is a multitude of measures already in place to keep you safe.

Hospitals are well prepared in the event of a fire, how prepared is your business?

Call us at Swift Fire today to discuss your fire safety needs.

Do you know your fire safety signs?

Fire safety signs provide vital health and safety information in order to warn anyone that enters a building of potential hazards. They also provide instructions to ensure all staff and visitors to your premises are aware of how to avoid those hazards.

Safe Condition Signs

What are they used for?

These should be used to signpost emergency exits, escape routes and essential first aid equipment.

When should they be used?

They should be used to show where the emergency exits are and how to operate the doors on the escape routes, for example, ‘Push bar to open’.

What do they look like?

These signs can be green squares or rectangles with text as well as pictograms.

It’s really common to see the wrong signs used in buildings. It’s easy to accidentally use a green ‘Fire exit’ sign on the exterior of a fire exit door when it should be a blue ‘Fire exit keep clear’ sign. It’s worth seeking the advice of a professional when you first place your signs. That way you know it’s right and can keep it that way.

Prohibition Signs

What are they used for?

These signs are used to reinforce instructions that prohibit dangerous activities.

Where should they be used?

Inside your building to reinforce the prohibition of dangerous activities. The Health and Safety Regulations 1996 list these signs as a requirement.

What do they look like?

The signs are a red circle with a red diagonal line crossing through it. There will be a pictogram in black behind the diagonal line that indicates the nature of the prohibition. A good example is the ‘No smoking’ sign used as an example above.

Fire Equipment Signs

What are they used for?

To show the location of fire safety equipment and fire alarm activation points.

When should they be used?

Wherever the location of this equipment is not obvious or can become unclear in low light conditions. For peace of mind, we’d recommend signposting all areas where fire safety equipment is stored and all fire alarm activation points. This is worth getting right. It’s relatively low cost and you’ll be glad you spent the small amount of extra money when you’re able to identify your key areas easily in the event of a fire.

What do they look like?

The signs are a red rectangle or square with white pictures or text.

According to British Standard and ISO requirements, there are prescribed graphic design specifications for safety signs. Additionally, they are required to be visible under all material conditions, so you must always choose photoluminescent (glow in the dark) signs where it’s practical.

If you are unsure, you have the correct signage in your building, speak to us today at Swift Fire & Safety.

Why do Fire Extinguishers Require Regular Maintenance? 

Fire extinguishers play an essential role in the suppression of small fires in the workplace. They are one of the first lines of defence against fire and it’s the responsibility of the company owner to make sure that all their extinguishers are serviced. Of course, it’s also just common sense to check on potentially life-saving devices regularly. 

But what are some reasons that a fire extinguisher might fail? And how can we protect against them? Here’s what to look out for. 

Corrosion 

The main cylinder of the extinguisher is made from aluminium or steel. It is designed to withstand the internal forces of the pressurising gas.  Over time, the metal may start to corrode or deteriorate from stress and this will compromise the structural integrity of the cylinder and cause the extinguisher to fail. 

Your fire extinguisher service package will include regular evaluations of both the internal and external conditions of your fire extinguisher cylinder. 

Tampering  

People, especially children, are understandably curious about fire extinguishers. If your fire extinguishers are in plain sight, there’s a chance that somebody could have tampered with them. Tampering can be anything from loosening the hose, removing the headcap seal or the locking pin, moving the extinguisher away from its designated point or discharging some of its contents. Sometimes the tampering is not intentional, like when an extinguisher is moved for cleaning or used as a door stop. But these things can still render the extinguisher unfit for purpose and non-compliant with the British Standard. 

Your fire extinguishers will be checked for tampering during servicing. However, if you suspect that an extinguisher has been tampered with, you should call out your service provider to check and rectify any problems immediately, even if your service is not due. You might want to look into tamper resistant extinguisher cabinets or extinguisher covers if the problem persists. 

Hose Blockage 

The discharge hose on your fire extinguishers can become blocked by debris or insects over time. This can result in impaired function if you need to use it. The hose and connector O-rings can also deteriorate with time. 

A service from a qualified engineer will include inspection of the fire extinguisher hose and any compression O-rings will be regularly replaced.  

Leakage 

A fire extinguisher’s weight is clearly marked on each maintenance label. This is because the extinguisher’s weight is the easiest way to tell if the contents are as they should be. During a regular inspection, an engineer will weigh the extinguisher and compare it to its weight from the last inspection. If the extinguisher’s weight has dropped more than 10%, this is a clear indication of a leak, and the engineer will investigate what has caused it. 

Many extinguishers also have a pressure gauge in the valve assembly, and this will also be tested during a routine service.  

General Wear 

A fire extinguisher will experience general ‘wear and tear’ over the years, from fading labels to paint scuffs. 

This might not seem like too big of a problem, but the consequences of this damage can be much greater than you’d think. As the maintenance label on the extinguishers become faded the important information that the service technician needs become illegible. If the instruction label is damaged then a user might choose the wrong extinguisher for the type of fire, or not be able to read the instructions for use. 

Your service engineer will ensure that all the labelling on your fire equipment is clear and legible. 

Fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance is required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 

Talk to us at Swift Fire & Safety and we will help to inform your requirements and provide your servicing and maintenance.  

Do you need a Fire Extinguisher in your Home?

There are so many ways that a fire could start in your own home, from faulty electrical goods, candles, and leaving cooking appliances unattended – just to name a few.

When in an emergency situation, you absolutely must call 999, but having a fire extinguisher in your home could help you to put out a small, contained fire before it becomes out of control. Installing fire extinguishers in your home is an effective and affordable way to increase fire safety.

What are the biggest fire hazards at home?

There are various different types of fire extinguishers that can be used depending on the nature of the fire. Before choosing which kind of product you would want in your home, you may need to consider what they would most likely be used for.

1. Cooking appliances

Almost 50% of all domestic fires are caused by cooking appliances. There are many ways a fire can start in the kitchen, ranging from loose clothing & tea towels getting into contact with the hob to grease and fat igniting while you are cooking.

Fire blankets are commonly installed in kitchens and work well for putting out fires in a fryer or pan by smothering the oxygen that fuels the fire.

2. Smoking

Smoking in the home is a major fire hazard. If your cigarette has not been disposed of correctly, you risk starting a fire. Smoking indoors is a bad idea – for example, if you fall asleep before the cigarette is out, you could put yourself and others in really serious danger. The risk factors and possible life changing scenarios are endless, so if you must smoke, outdoors is best.

Even if you just vape or use e-cigarettes then there are still fire risks involved. If there are issues with the batteries, the product is faulty or you leave it charging too long, a fire can still be caused.

3. Electrical products

Electrical products that are faulty or counterfeit items that do not work properly, products being left on too long and overheating, or overloading extension leads & sockets are all prime examples of how an electrical fire could easily start.

You should always ensure that any electrical products you use have been safety checked. This can be verified by locating the British or European safety mark on the item you have purchased.

4. Candles and open flames

You should always take extra care each and every time there is any kind of naked flame in your home. Make sure you are using a fireguard if you have an open fireplace. Candles should be placed in a non-flammable container where they cannot be knocked over. Children, pets, and flammable objects should be kept far away from open flames and these should all be put out before you leave the room or go to bed.

Having a fire extinguisher in your home could make an enormous difference in an emergency and improve your fire safety. For more information please give our friendly team a call on 01733 602955 or visit our contact page.

What Needs to be PAT Tested?

PAT testing stands for ‘Portable Appliance Testing’ and is mandatory for every business using electrical equipment of any kind in order to reduce the risk of faults and lower the chances of a fire.

Faulty electricals are one of the most common causes of commercial fires in the UK, so it’s imperative that you know which appliances need to be tested in your workplace.
There’s no specific law that dictates that PAT testing should be carried out, but there are several regulations that cover the need for your premises to meet safety requirements – including the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

PAT Testing 101

It’s not only portable items that require testing. Items that need testing – and the kind of testing that they will need – are decided by three different classes and seven categories.
Class 1 means it requires a full PAT testing, Class 2 means it requires a PAT insulation test and Class 3 means it doesn’t need testing at all (though charging cables may need to be). The categories of items that require testing are:

– Fixed appliances
– Stationary appliances
– IT appliances
– Moveable appliances
– Portable appliances
– Cables and chargers
– Handheld appliances

In order to help you protect your employees and comply with government regulations as a business – we’ve put together a list of the common items found in different business sectors that may require testing.

Construction

There are plenty of manual tools and materials on a construction site as well as plenty of handheld items. These should all have regular testing to ensure they are in good working order electrically. Some common construction site items that require PAT testing are:

– Power tools
– Power cables
– Charging systems
– Site kitchen appliances
– Fridges
– Ovens
– Heaters
– Lighting

Offices

Office spaces are usually filled with all kinds of electrical items and appliances. It can be a varied and eclectic mix dependent upon the industry and the personality of the business, but here are some commonly used items in offices to have PAT tested:
– Computers
– Laptop cables
– Photocopiers
– Floor standing printers
– Electric heaters
– Kettles
– Extension leads
– Microwaves
– Toasters
– Fridges

Healthcare Facilities

Again, different facilities have different appliances, but there’s often a wide range of more complex equipment. The following are just a few items to think about for care home or hospital PAT testing:

– Computers and monitors
– Televisions
– Defibrillators
– Electric beds and chairs
– Heart rate monitors
– Electric scales
– Pumps
– Hoists

For staff, patients and the general public, fire safety should be a top priority for hospitals and medical facilities. A risk assessment can help to identify any potential fire safety risks.
Warehouses

Warehouses might be predominantly used for storage, but electrical equipment is usually always present and should be PAT tested to reduce the risk of faults that could cause a fire. Some common items in warehouses for PAT testing are:

– Telephones
– Floor standing printers
– Portable tools
– Charging cables
– Extension leads
Warehouses and factories should be extra vigilant about fire safety, especially when you are working with large equipment and machinery.

Schools

There might not be as much specialist equipment as an office, but schools do contain plenty of electrical equipment and devices and accidental damage to such objects is much more likely due to the high numbers of young children daily. See the following list of examples of common items in a school that need PAT testing:

– Televisions
– Computers and monitors
– Extension leads
– Photocopiers
– Floor standing printers
– Crating appliances
– Glue guns
– Sewing machines
– Kitchen appliances
– Fridges
– Ovens
– Heaters

This is by no means an exhaustive list of items that require PAT testing, but it should give you a good idea of the kinds of things you’re looking for. Your fire safety risk assessment should include a full list of every item in your workplace that requires regular PAT testing. If you’re unsure about whether your business requires PAT testing, or if you’d like to arrange for PAT testing at your premises, simply contact our team today.