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, 22 December 2011

Don’t drink and fry this Christmas

London Fire Brigade launch Christmas takeaway campaign
Don’t drink and fry, have a takeaway. This is the message from the London Fire Brigade this Christmas.
With a third of all fatal accidental house fires being alcohol related, fire chiefs across the country are warning the public to be extra-careful when indulging in Christmas cheer.
Some of the advice includes buying food on the way back from a night out, rather than cooking yourself, making sure cigarettes are completely extinguished, and testing smoke alarms.
The London Fire Brigade have just launched a similar campaign, ‘Have a Takeaway’, which features the slogans ‘Last night a burger saved my life!’ and ‘Fire safety equipment’ above a picture of a burger.
Over 4,000 of the 18,000 house fires in London in the last three years were caused by members of the public who are part of Mosaic group G, who tend to be degree-educated and earn over £40,000.This campaign is being advertised across the capital in tube stations, free papers and on social networks in an effort to reach young, well-educated, professionals who have been revealed to contribute to 25% of all accidental house fires in the capital.
As part of the promotion, people are encouraged to upload pictures of their takeaways to the fire services’ Facebook page for a chance to win £25 of takeaway vouchers.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said, “our message is simple, if you’ve had too much to drink, don’t go home thinking you’re on MasterChef. Too many fires start when someone has passed out, leaving a pizza in the oven or a pan on the hob and it can be fatal.”

Friday, 4 November 2011

Landlord pleads guilty to breaching fire laws

Lee Pemberton, a director of PemCo Investments Ltd, pleaded guilty to seven offences relating to a property above a shop, in Lune Street, Preston. A landlord and his property firm have been ordered to pay more than £33,000 for breaching fire safety legislation.

The offences included failing to provide appropriate fire detectors and alarms; a lack of a suitable fire risk assessment; inadequate fire separation between the basement and the access staircase; a lack of fire safety measures; failing to maintain adequate fire separation between the first and second floors; an unsuitable system of maintenance for the building; and failing to comply with other responsible people to comply with the requirements of prohibitions placed on him.

Pemberton, who had already been prosecuted by the fire service for previous breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, was fined £1,000 for each offence at Preston Magistrates’ Court. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.

PemCo was fined £3,000 for each offence, totalling £21,000, and ordered to pay £5,520 costs.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officer, John Hampson, said: “While we will always work with those willing to address fire safety issues, where unnecessary risks are being taken or management responsibilities flouted, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action.”

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service chiefs said Pemberton put residents at risk of death or serious injury if there had been a fire in the house of multiple occupants.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Paul Richardson concludes,
“Sadly it is sometimes the case that sleeping accommodation is provided without landlords having considered the fire safety provisions which need to be put in place. In our constant drive to make Lancashire safer, our fire safety enforcement teams are actively seeking out such premises. “I hope that the outcome of this particular case sends a clear message that fire safety is a priority issue that should always be addressed before tenants are accommodated.”
“In this instance the consequences of the inappropriate fire safety measures could have led to serious injury or loss of life and circumstances left us no option but to take this action.”
“Landlords and other businesses can be assured that we will continue to support them in complying with the Fire Safety Order and anybody seeking assistance in understanding the requirements of the law can contact their local fire safety department for advice via our website.”
“However, as this case illustrates, while we will always work with those willing to address fire safety issues, where unnecessary risks are being taken or management responsibilities flouted, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action.”

Friday, 7 October 2011

Push the button and test your fire alarm

Well done to Staffordshire Fire Service for making this great fire safety video.

Residential Landlords pay £27,500 for 'severe' fire safety breaches

Two private residential landlords have been found guilty of breaching fire safety regulations and fined £23,000.

Fiaz Mahmmud, 48, and Audrey Feegrado, 39, were each found guilty of five breaches of the Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 2006 at a house in French Horn Lane, Hatfield, after pleading not guilty to the offences at Watford magistrates court.

The defendants were each fined £11,500, ordered to pay £2,225 each towards the council's costs.

The pair were found guilty of failing to ensure that all means of escape from fire were free from obstruction; failing to ensure that all means of escape were maintained in good order; failing to ensure that any fire fighting equipment and fire alarms were maintained in good working order; failing to take measures to protect the occupiers from injury; and failing to ensure that all the common parts of the house were maintained in good and clean decorative repair.

Michel Saminaden, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council chief executive said:

“These severe breaches of fire safety regulations could have resulted in fatalities. It is something that this council, as the responsible authority for private sector housing, takes very seriously and we are working hard to ensure that high standards are maintained to ensure the safety of our residents.”

Source - info4fire

Friday, 5 August 2011

Fire safety for blocks of flats guidance released

A new guidance document on fire safety for blocks of flats has been published.

Fire Safety Guidance for Purpose Built Blocks of Flats, now available for download, will run alongside existing advice on housing.

The 192–page document covers topics ranging from escape routes, door insulation and fire prevention, to firefighter access, the needs of older and disabled people, and combating vandals and arsonists. As well as general apartment complexes, it also covers flats in sheltered housing schemes and accommodation for students or workers.

The document’s release follows a meeting last year between the Local Government Regulation body (formerly LACORS), the Department for Local Government and Communities (CLG), the Chief Fire Officers Association, the Tenant Services Authority and social and private accommodation providers.

Commissioned by CLG, the project was led by the Local Government Improvement and Development body. The guidance, drafted by CS Todd & Associates, aims to follow a similar format to existing guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing.

Councillor David Parsons, chairman of the Local Government Group’s Environment and Housing Programme Board, said: “Clear and comprehensive fire safety guidance can mean the difference between life and death. This innovative project brought together all aspects of the housing world to share experience and expertise and has resulted in common sense advice. This will be of great use to landlords and fire officers, helping to keep people as safe as possible and protect property.

“The existing guidance covers most types of property very well, but it was never meant for blocks of flats and it became apparent some landlords were unsure of their legal responsibilities in such buildings. This was compounded by fire risk assessors being unclear about the level of investigation required when carrying out risk assessments.

“These extra guidelines should resolve these issues and help make sure everyone involved in the housing sector knows exactly what they have to do so lives aren’t needlessly put at risk.”

Recommendations include:

  • Vigilance against people smoking in communal areas and providing cigarette receptacles by entrances
  • Effective locks on doors and windows, CCTV systems and, where appropriate, caretaker/concierge presence to protect against vandals and arsonists
  • Ensuring escape routes and exits are well signed and lit, clear of clutter and have as few ‘dead ends’ as possible
  • Monitoring modifications of flats by tenants which may affect fire safety
  • Promoting the ‘stay put’ principle where appropriate for residents whose flat is not on fire, rather than instigating a full evacuation of the building
  • Regular inspection of electrics, heating, ventilation and lightening protection systems
  • Making sure firefighters have easy access to buildings and internal firefighting equipment.

To download the free guidance, click here.

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

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.
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

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Solving problems associated with loft conversions and Building Control in dwellings

If you intend to convert an existing loft space into additional rooms, you will need to apply for Building Regulation Approval. You may also need Planning Permission if you live in a Conservation Area or a Listed Building or are installing a dormer window. Loft conversions and other similar refurbishment projects in residential properties frequently struggle to meet Building Regulations for fire safety because homeowners or developers don’t want to make ugly changes during a refurbishment whose purpose is to improve the look and feel of the space.

Building regulations require the creation of a fire resistant protected escape route out from the loft to the dwelling’s final exit, in order to prevent occupants being trapped in a fire. This guide details the points that can cause difficulties for architects, developers and homeowners alike. These difficulties can often be tackled by using a device like Plumis’s Automist, an innovative alternative to loft conversion sprinklers which enables the objectives of Approved Document B to be met without compromise of layout.

Key Building Regulation requirements:

1. Form a protected route out from the loft rooms to a final exit at the ground floor with the construction of the walls.

The upper storeys must by served by a fire protected stairway (protected at all levels) which exits at ground floor level. This can often be at odds with a more desirable open-plan arrangement i.e. stairs open to the main living areas and are not enclosed by a traditional hallway leading to a final exit.

2. Provision of fire doors.

Any new door forming the protected escape route protection will have to be a FD20 / E20 fire-resistant door fitted in an appropriate frame as recommended by the fire door manufacturer. Intumescent seals may also have to be fitted to the frame or door edges as recommended by the door manufacturer to ensure it achieves the FD20 / E20 rating.

Is it worthwhile considering an alternative to these measures?

Upgrading doors and a protecting the stairway may be a straightforward route to meet the prescriptive requirements of ADB, but in many instances this will defeat the aesthetic objectives that drove the proposed layout. In these situations, when conventional compensatory measures create poor spaces, alternative suppression systems like Automist can deliver a better overall solution for achieving both compliance and life protection.

Will building control accept it as a compensatory measure?

The suitability of a compensatory measure must be judged on a case by case basis and is subject to Building Control approval.

Many manufacturers will review your layout and make recommendations free of charge. A manufacturer’s cover letter can help open a dialogue with Building Control, and provide a starting point for the Inspector to form a more detailed view.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Fresh guidance for purpose built flats published

New guidance on fire safety for purpose built blocks of flats has been published: 

The guidance aims to give practical support and advice on existing purpose built flats to landlords, managing agents, enforcing officers and fire risk assessors, as an important part of flat fire prevention. It does not introduce new standards or regulations but builds on existing good practice and guidance – in particular Fire Safety Risk Assessment. Sleeping Accommodation published by the Department for Communities and Local Government to support the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO).

The guidance is also designed to complement guidance on fire safety provisions in certain types of existing housing published by LACORS (now Local Government Regulation) in 2008 and clarified in 2009. That guide was not primarily intended to apply to purpose built flats and addresses those that do not meet the standards applied under the building regulations since 1992.

The new guidance was commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, project managed by the Local Government Improvement and Development body, and drafted by CS Todd & Associates.

“Of particular concern is the resulting variation in the findings of fire risk assessments carried out by third parties on behalf of landlords and others responsible for fire safety in blocks of flats.”

Open space solutions for modern life styles

Approved Document B limits the layout and aesthetics of residential developments by containing fire spread through compartmentation or increased fire resistance. Residential sprinkler installation in redevelopment of existing structures can have major aesthetic, infrastructure and even structural consequences and be extremely costly.

New innovations in active fire protection from Plumis offer the architect alternative routes to freedom and flexibility in layout to provide the modern, contemporary, open-plan residential layouts that clients increasingly expect whilst still complying with Building Regulations and keeping occupants safe.

Introducing Automist

Click the link for a step-by-step guide to using the Automist sprinkler as a compensatory measure

N.B. Automist’s suitability as a compensatory measure must be judged on a case by case basis and is subject to building control approval. Technical data is provided within the "Automist Technical Guide" to enable construction and fire industry professionals to adequately assess and specify Automist.