September marks the annual National Fire Chiefs Council’s Home Fire Safety Campaign, this month is split into four weeks, with each focussing on one aspect of fire safety within the home or business. The first week (2 to 8 September) focusses on Chimney Safety, the second on Business Safety (9 to 15 September), the next week focusses on Gas Safety (16 to 22 September) and the final week of September encourages Fire Door Safety (23 to 29 September).
We will share our top tips for each week via our social media channels and link to relevant agencies which are able to help with ensuring that you are fire safe in each aspect of your home.
Chimney Fire Safety Week- 2 to 8 September
Chimney Fire Safety Week aims to raise awareness of safe chimney use. Whilst chimney fires are not common, peak season for chimney fires is between January and March. Therefore, it is important that awareness of proper chimney use is shared before this season begins. Below are some tips on how to ensure that your chimney is kept in a safe condition:
- Employ a skilled and competent chimney engineer.
- Keep fire shafts clear, and ensure that your chimney is cleaned when necessary.
- Ensure that appliances are kept mechanically safe and fully functioning. Masonry chimneys should be checked to make sure that they are mechanically and structurally sound.
- When buying a property, ensure that you have a full audit trail for appliances, components and a full fire risk assessment.
- Use a fire guard to protect from hot embers.
Information on local recommended chimney sweeps, installers, appliances and fuels can be found on the HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme) website at www.hetas.co.uk.
Woodsure, the UK’s woodfuel accreditation scheme, provides useful advice on the use of wood fuel. This can be found at www.woodsure.co.uk.
Business Safety Week- 9 to 15 September
Between 2017 and 2018, nearly 30% of fires on non-residential premises were deliberately set. A further third of fires were caused by faulty appliances or misuse of equipment. It is therefore important that Business Fire Safety Week is held to encourage business owners and employees to consider their own risk of fire, ahead of the increased risk of fire from additional stock and temporary seasonal staff ahead of the Christmas period.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) will be running their business safety campaign, which can be followed using the hashtag #BusinessSafety19 or via their Facebook page (@NFCCFIRE) and Twitter page (@NFCC_FireChiefs). The campaign will cover themes of preventing arson, reducing false alarms, preventing common causes of business fires and protecting sleeping accommodation.
Our key tips for ensuring that you reduce the risk of fire at your business are:
- To ensure that equipment that has the potential to cause injury is kept in a safe condition (in accordance with the Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989). Portable appliance testing (PAT) is a recommended effective method for testing compliance.
- To train staff to recognise and log faulty equipment.
- To avoid overloading sockets and ensure that unused equipment should be switched off. Fan vents should also not be blocked.
- To keep combustible materials away from electrical appliances and sources of heat.
Details of finding a Fire Risk Assessor can be found at www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/finding-fire-risk-assessors.
Gas Safety Week- 16 to 22 September
This year marks the ninth Gas Safety Week. There is a particular focus on vulnerable people this year, including the elderly and those who are at risk of receiving illegal gas work.
Last year over 4000 supporters pledged to take part in helping to keep the public safe by taking part in Gas Safety Week. You can sign up to take part in this year’s campaign at www.gassafetyweek.co.uk.
There are 23 million gas users in the UK and 1 in 6 gas appliances that are investigated by the Gas Safety Register are found to be unsafe. It is therefore vitally important that the public are made aware of how to stay safe in their homes and help those who may not be able to do this on their own.
Some top tips to ensure that you’re kept gas safe include:
- Only using a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit and service your appliances. You can find and check an engineer at www.gassaferegister.co.ukor call 0800 408 5500.
- Checking both sides of your Gas Safe engineer’s Register ID card, to ensure that they are qualified to carry out the work you need doing.
- Have your appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year.
- Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: Headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. If you suspect that you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, visit your local accident and emergency department. Call the Gas Emergency Services number on 0800 111 999 if you are concerned that you may have a gas leak.
- Check gas appliances for signs that they may not be working properly. E.g. Stains, yellow flames and excess condensation.
- Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home, ideally one on each level.
Further information can be found at www.gassafetyweek.co.uk.
Fire Door Safety Week- 23 to 29 September
This year’s Fire Door Safety Week has the broad theme of sleeping accommodation. The aim of this campaign is to educate the public of the critical role that fire doors play in delaying the spread of smoke and fire, encourage best practice in specification and installation and halt the trend of neglect in maintaining and inspecting fire doors.
Across the week, the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) will publish key safety messages regarding fire door safety, including a short film and seminars. These will be available at www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk and @FDsafetyweek on Twitter.
Fire doors act as a barrier to a fire, cutting off and protecting parts of a building. They reduce the damage caused by fire and smoke, protect routes of evacuation, allow emergency services to access the building and protect those with limited mobility by extending the available evacuation time.
Further guidance on how fire doors protect you and how you can check the protection levels of your fire doors can be found within a best practice guide, on the Fire Door Safety Week Website.