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Welcome to the Plumis fire protection blog. Stay informed about domestic fire safety, fire building regulations and ADB-compliant solutions for open plan living. Please feel free to browse through the posts and comment about what you read.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Social housing blocks 'unsafe in fire'

Fire safety experts say modifications by right-to-buy owners have exacerbated problem

Three-quarters of all social housing blocks are potentially unsafe in a fire, according to a survey questioning managers responsible for ensuring buildings are properly maintained.

A similar proportion of housing managers are not confident that their blocks have had a proper fire risk assessment, according to the study, carried out jointly by the Chief Fire Officers Association and Chartered Institute of Housing.

The findings will further raise concerns that fire safety in social housing, particularly in high-rise blocks, remains a significant problem even two years after the Lakanal House tragedy in Camberwell.

Six people, including three children, died on 3 July 2009 when a blaze swept though the 14-storey south London block. While an official report into the cause has been delayed pending a still-running police investigation, fire experts who examined Lakanal's sister block concluded that decades of botched modifications to the 1959-built structure massively compromised its ability to contain fires, allowing the flames to spread at speed vertically and laterally, trapping residents.

Following the fire the Chief Fire Officers Association and Chartered Institute of Housing organised a series of safety seminars for professionals in the social housing sector, during which they polled participants about the blocks they managed.

A total of 400 people were surveyed at the first three events, all in England, using an anonymous, push-button vote system. Asked before the seminar whether they believed their buildings were "fit for purpose" regarding fire safety, 45% agreed. After the expert briefing this fell to 27%.

Similarly, while 40% were initially confident they had carried out proper fire risk assessments on their housing stock, this dropped to 25% afterwards.

Both organisations stress the findings do not mean three-quarters of buildings are fire traps or that the occupants should be worried.

But Tony Prosser, director of operations for the West Midlands fire service, who led the study for the Chief Fire Officers' Association, said it showed that many supposed experts in the housing sector did not know as much as they thought.

"We were quite surprised by the results, bearing in mind that the people who come to these events tend to be already reasonably aware of the issues," he said.

"It's a worrying figure. When we go through the various scenarios it made people aware of some things they'd maybe not considered."

A main concern is modifications to buildings, some by residents, for example right-to-buy flat owners who replace the original fireproof doors to their flats with combustible replacements. Similarly, work on communal areas could sometimes cause hazards, he said.

"Some of these buildings are 50 years old now. Since then there's been a lot of work – satellite dishes, additional plumbing, heating systems. You can get heating engineers who bang holes between floors and don't do anything about filling in the gaps. In some buildings it can be a process of steady degradation."

Debbie Larner, head of practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, the professional body for social housing groups, said the figures were "quite shocking" but stressed the need for perspective. "There's much more awareness about what the issues are. We're getting a sense that people really want to ensure that their assessments are much more robust. It's less of a tick-box approach," she said.

Some fire safety experts take a more gloomy view, saying that decades of chronic under-investment in social housing stock has left many hundreds of blocks unsafe and places greater emphasis on affordable easy to retrofit fire protection solutions.

Source - Guardian

Friday, 15 July 2011

Become an Accredited Reseller of Automist and help meet growing demand for our affordable sprinkler alternative!


Plumis has now launched a certification scheme for Accredited Resellers and is looking to establish a network of fully trained specifiers and installers.

Automist is increasingly being used to provide routes to freedom and flexibility in layout to provide the modern, contemporary, open-plan residential layouts that clients increasingly expect whilst still complying with fire Building Regulations and keeping occupants safe.

· Avoids enclosed staircases
· Contemporary and minimalist design
· Easy to retrofit
· Facilitates compliance with building regs, the FSO and the Housing Act 04'
· A hassle free alternative to sprinklers

When Automist is being used as a compensatory measure to meet building regulations, it must be specified and commissioned by an Accredited Reseller.

The Automist Accreditation Process is a short training session that provides installers with the necessary tools to quickly and correctly specify and install Automist in domestic properties. It is available to qualifying trade customers, and takes you through everything you need to know about Plumis' easy to retrofit fire protection systems.

Every attendee receives a certificate and is able to describe him/herself as a Plumis Approved Installer. We are also able to provide free product literature, and a web banner for use on web sites.

Why not position yourself as an Automist Accredited Reseller and help your customers take advantage of our award-winning fire suppression system.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fire risk warning over faulty Beko fridge freezers

The problem is with a faulty defroster timer.

Up to 500,000 fridge freezers could be posing serious fire risks in homes and businesses across the country, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned.

The LFB said a fire in the capital last week, which was originally thought to have been caused by a lightning strike, was caused by a Beko appliance.

Beko has been alerted to the problem which the LFB says has caused 20 fires and one death in London since 2008.

The company said it was contacting customers to fix the problem for free.

Fridge freezers affected

• Fire chiefs are urging people to check if they own particular models manufactured between January 2000 and October 2006. A full list can be found here

• Anyone with concerns should contact Beko by calling their free phone number on 0800 009 4837 or visiting www.beko.co.uk

Over the last three years the LFB's investigation team has been working to establish a link between a faulty defroster timer switch on the appliances and a number of house fires.

The problem occurs when water gets into the defrost timer switch, which can lead to an electrical malfunction resulting in plastic components and other highly flammable insulation inside the appliance catching on fire.

The brigade formally alerted Beko to the problem in June 2010 and the manufacturer has been trying to locate the products so that the fault can be corrected.

Toxic smoke

Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation, said: "Any fire can be lethal but the LFB is particularly concerned about this because fires involving any sort of fridge freezer develop rapidly and produce an enormous amount of toxic smoke.

"Having established this link, we have worked closely with Beko to ensure the public is kept safe.

"However, the brigade urges everyone who has a Beko fridge freezer to check it is not one of those highlighted by the company as potentially faulty."

A Beko spokesman said: "We have contacted all retailers who sold these products to seek their help in identifying affected customers from their sales records.

"This has allowed us to mail these customers to make them aware of the issue and to urge them to contact our freephone number to arrange the modification.

"As a result of this ongoing activity we have mailed over 100,000 owners and have successfully located and modified 11,000 units."
Source - BBC

Jersey fire service issue chip pan warning

Damage caused by kitchen fire in St Saviour, Jersey The whole of the St Saviour flat suffered severe smoke damage

Fire chiefs have warned people about using chip pans following a blaze in Jersey on Sunday.

Two fire engines were called to the kitchen fire in a flat in St Saviour just before 1800 GMT.

The fire service said an unattended chip pan was thought to be cause, but investigations were ongoing.

It said having smoke alarms to warn householders and replacing oil pans with deep-fat fryers could help avoid similar incidents.

The alarm was raised by neighbours, who said they could see thick black smoke coming through the ground-floor windows.
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The whole of the flat suffered severe smoke damage.

A spokesperson for the service said: "This fire came about for a set of relatively common occurrences, yet the damage, smell and terrible disruption to the family is shocking to view.

"We all need to take note to try and prevent an event like this happening to us."

Reduce the risk of chip pan fires

Source BBC