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, 10 February 2011

Derbyshire Fire chief calls on UK government to introduce automatic fire sprinkler legislation

A leading fire professional from Derbyshire has called on the government to introduce new legislation to make automatic fire sprinkler systems mandatory. Sean Frayne, an assistant chief fire officer for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that Westminster should follow the lead of the government in Wales, reports the Ashbourne News Telegraph.

The Domestic Fire Safety LCO (Legislative Competence Order) act is expected to pass the Welsh Assembly in the coming months. The law would require all new build houses in Wales to be fitted with an automatic fire sprinkler system.

Mr Frayne told the news provider that politicians must give "serious consideration" to a change in legislation.

"Automatic sprinkler systems are exceptionally effective through their ability to control a fire before it gets to life threatening proportions," he said.

Chief Fire Officer Frayne joined the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in April 1985, transferring to the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service in October 1997. The fire officer has had a variety of roles and promotions within Derbyshire working in operations, training, station management, performance management, risk management and corporate services.

Source - FIA

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Welsh Assembly vote to make sprinklers compulsory in all new homes in Wales

Welsh Assembly members voted on Wednesday to make the installation of sprinklers compulsory in all new homes in Wales. The move was championed by Labour assembly member Ann Jones and as well as getting cross-party support from the Welsh government and Westminster.

“This legislative competency order (LCO) paves the way for a truly groundbreaking measure that will make new homes in Wales safer for generations to come. As they have explored the issue, politicians in Wales and Westminster have seen the overwhelming moral and technical case for sprinkler systems which really do save lives!”

It will make Wales the first part of the UK to demand active residential fire protection in all new homes. Currently, under Part B of the Building Regulations, sprinklers are normally only mandatory in residential buildings more than 30m tall in England and Wales. Interestingly in the US, it has been mandatory to have sprinklers installed in all new one and two family dwellings since 2005.

The upside for developers is that it could mean a lot more freedom for design, the adoption of active fire protection could presents the opportunity for more open-plan designs, loft conversions and flexible layouts whilst still conform to building regulations.

A detailed BRE report published in 2006 that involved extensive testing demonstrated that sprinklers are not necessarily the best solution for most housing due to their high cost of installation and water damage incurred when triggered. NERA Economic Consulting, which carried out the study, looked at the lifecycle cost of a number of scenarios against a control and found the benefits of installing sprinklers in all new housing in terms of reduced fatalities, injuries and property loss, fell short of the additional costs. Therefore it did not support the mandatory installation of sprinklers in all housing or social housing in the Thames Gateway.

Alternative systems

Mist systems -This is a type of sprinkler system that issues water as a mist and suffocates a fire by removing heat and displacing oxygen from the fire zone. Some of the advantages of water mist when compared to traditional sprinklers systems are: they use less water; and produce less consequential water damage.

Automist is an example of a low cost system designed to retrofit able. It can be ran off a mains connection and is easy to install and maintain. The only real disadvantage is there is no British standard and manufacturers must display competency by independent testing. Approved Document B allows Building Control officers to authorise alternative fire protection solutions that don’t fit established categories, as long as these products have been tested and shown to be fit for purpose.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Practise your own home fire safety drill

In a recent episode of “The Office”, Dwight Schrute feels his PowerPoint presentation on fire safety doesn’t get through to his colleagues, so he tries another method. “Experience is the best teacher,” says Dwight, he is not wrong, but not necessarily the type of experience shown in the episode.

Correctly practicing your home emergency evacuation with your family, can really help with your preparedness in the event of a fire and could end up saving lives. Practice a home fire drill at least twice a year.

  • Write an emergency evacuation plan specific to your home. Make it as simple as possible and consider alternate routes should an evacuation route be blocked. Remember to ensure you close all the doors behind you and once you are out you must STAY OUT. Remember, smoke rises. You must get low, if you see smoke. Bend down or crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest exit. The air will be clearer and easier to breathe near the floor.
  • It is good practise to have an emergency kit containing emergency contact numbers, clean socks, slippers, and blankets, possibly even a change of clothes and bottled water. This could be stored in an unattached garage, with a neighbour or an outbuilding.
  • Practise your drill regularly. All the members of your family should know the sound of your fire alarm and have the main route memorised. Ensure that keys are accessible in an emergency and locked doors can be opened easily. Take your mobile phone or portable phone with you.

  • The more smoke alarms you have, the safer you'll be. At minimum you should have one on each floor. However, if you have only one alarm and two floors, put it somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you're asleep.
  • Extinguishers and fire blankets are useful manual interventions, although not intended for use on out-of-control fires. When faced with a blazing pan of oil it is best practice to "get out, stay out and dial 999", as most individuals are not trained to deal with these fires and could potentially face severe injury or death if their attempts to extinguish fat or chip pan fires were unsuccessful.
  • Several innovative fire suppression devices have come to market with a view to tackling the problem of home fire protection in high-risk areas where it would be expensive and disruptive to fit traditional sprinklers. Automist is the latest of these devices.