Category Archives: Discussion

Fire Door Safety Week is Here

The campaign to raise awareness of the importance of properly specified, installed and maintained fire doors is underway this week.

A door’s a door’s a door, right? No, a fire door is an engineered safety device.

Fire doors are a crucial part of the passive fire protection of every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building.  They save lives and property.

According to the trade bodies, there are about 3 million new fire doors bought and installed every year in the UK, the vast majority made from timber. Fire doors are often the first line of defence in a fire and their correct specification, maintenance and management can be the difference between life and death for building occupants. However, they remain a significant area of neglect, often the first thing to be downgraded on a specification and mismanaged throughout their service life, propped open, damaged and badly maintained. Consequently, Fire Door Safety Week has been created:

  • To raise awareness of the critical role of fire doors, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance.
  • To encourage building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and to report those that aren’t satisfactory.
  • To link together the initiatives of many organisations with common interests in the fire door and passive fire protection industries.
  • To engage and educate people, helping the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the correct specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors.

Fire doors save lives. Help us raise awareness about the importance of fire doors.  #FireDoorSafetyWeek

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Brigade offers free training to motorcyclists to help make capital’s roads safer

As part of the national Biker Down series of courses LFB are offering motorcyclists safety training in a bid to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Thanks to funding from Lambeth Council, courses will be run on a monthly basis. The training course is set up in partnership with London Ambulance Service, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.  Biker Down is available to any motorcyclist  who lives, rides or studies in London.

The Brigade’s Head of Community Safety, Chris O’Connor, said: “When a motorcyclist is involved in a collision, often the first person on the scene is another rider.  The course teaches riders both how they can help if they come across a motorcycle collision and motorcycle-specific immediate aid training, such as how to treat major bleeding and safe helmet removal but also the types of issues to look out for to prevent a crash in the first place, for example, speeding.”

A total of 30 places are available with 15 spaces at each session. Visit the Biker Down webpage for more information if you’re interested in attending a session and to book a place. Forthcoming dates for the training course are:

  • Saturday 30 September
  • Sunday 29 October
  • Saturday 25 November
  • Sunday 28 January 2018.

Biker Down, which was devised by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, involves a group training session delivered by firefighters and LAS Motorcycle Response Paramedics.

Participants receive a certificate of attendance, an immediate aid kit designed to be carried under the seat of a bike and qualify for a discount to attend the Bike Safe London Rider Skills Day scheme.

Paul King, Charlton Ross Director and keen motorcyclist has attended the course and said “any initiative that can help raise awareness of risk and how to deal with the aftermath of an accident is a good thing.  Motorcyclists, like cyclists are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to road safety and represent a disproportionate number of those killed or seriously injured on our roads.  We at Charlton Ross fully support this training”

Whirlpool finally admit 5.3 million faulty tumble dryers should be unplugged and not used

For months Whirlpool have suggested that despite concerns raised after a number of serious fires, their tumble dryers were safe to use.

Finally after action by London Fire Brigade and Peterborough Trading Standards Whirlpool have updated the advice on their own website.

London Fire Brigade warned in October 2016 that owners of the faulty dryers must stop using them immediately, after one of the machines was found to be the cause of a huge blaze in an 18-storey tower block in Shepherd’s Bush in London.

Various dryers made by Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda between April 2004 and September 2015 are subject to a safety notice about the fire risk, which is caused by excess fluff coming into contact with the heating element.

The advice is now clear ‘If your tumble dryer is affected by this issue then you should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place.


Office of Rail and Road report concludes driver only operation is safe

Hard pressed commuters are going to read with interest the recent statement made by the official regulator in relation to Driver Only Operated trains.  This has apparently been at the heart of the unions grievance for months.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said:

“Following a thorough review of GTR-Southern’s method and implementation of Driver Only Operation, ORR is satisfied that with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working.

“ORR has made some recommendations for further improvements, including ensuring that CCTV image quality is consistently high. GTR-Southern has accepted and is in the process of implementing these recommendations. As the safety regulator we will continue our inspections and are also working with the industry to ensure it reviews and updates its work in adopting best practice procedures, training and equipment in relation to the safe dispatch of trains.”

In an earlier statement Mr Prosser had said “Trains with doors operated by drivers (known in the industry as ‘Driver Only Operation’) have been in operation in Great Britain for more than 30 years. ORR has scrutinised this approach, and our inspectors are satisfied that with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working.”


Timely reminder about bonfires and fireworks

Fire brigades up and down the country will again be urging us all to take care with fireworks and bonfires.

London Fire Brigade take the opportunity to point out the legal position:

It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in public places and an offence for anyone, other than a firework professional, to possess professional display fireworks.

Police have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to those under the age of 18 caught with fireworks in a public place.

It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am. On 5 November, displays can continue until midnight and on certain occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, fireworks can be set off until 1am.

Firework safety code

  • Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and always follow the instructions carefully when using them
  • Light them at arms length using a taper and stand well back
  • Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
  • Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket
  • Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow
  • Take care with sparklers – never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening

 Bonfire safety

  • Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries
  • Don’t leave bonfires unattended. An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out. If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of fire

London Fire Brigade want Whirlpool to change advice on faulty white goods after tower block blaze

Last week news media across the country reported on a tower block fire in Shepherds Bush.  Dramatic pictures were seen of a blaze that ripped through an 18 storey high rise.   The blaze started in the kitchen of a seventh floor flat and the occupants were in at the time and using their tumble dryer. Thankfully they were uninjured and escaped smoke coming from the dryer. The residents of four other flats in the block have also had to be rehoused following the blaze.

It took 120 firefighters to put it out. LFB fire investigators believe it was caused by a faulty Indesit tumble dryer which was subject to ‘corrective action’ by the manufacturer. It was due to be seen by an engineer.

LFB have gone on to question Whirlpool’s advice to customers who have faulty appliances.

“After this devastating fire we now want the Indesit’s parent company, Whirlpool, to change their current advice to consumers as a matter of urgency.”

Whirlpool’s advice is:

”You may continue to use your tumble dryer whilst waiting for the modification, however, we require that you do not leave your dryer unattended during operation as an extra precaution (i.e. do not leave the house or leave the dryer on whilst asleep).”

LFB and other fire safety professionals want  this changed. Faulty appliances should not be used until they have been fixed.  Its really that simple.

If you have a faulty electrical appliance, unplug it, don’t use it until it has been fixed by a qualified specialist engineer.

Ban on throwing mortar boards is a tired health and safety myth

Back in May it was widely reported that a university planned to ban their students  from throwing mortar boards in the air on graduation day for health and safety reasons. HSE has provided a response to this age-old myth:

Geoff Cox, who heads the Health and Safety Executive public sector team, said: “You’d think universities would study history and do a bit of research before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one. The banning of mortar board tossing on supposed ‘health and safety’ grounds is one of our most popular myths and actually appears in our Top 10 all-time worst health and safety excuses.

“As far back as 2008, HSE made clear the law does not stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion. The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small and it’s over-the-top to impose an outright ban. We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”

How potty is this?

London Fire Brigade are warning parents to keep a keen eye on children as new figures reveal that crews receive an average of four call outs a day to rescue youngsters from a variety of objects like railings, potties and toilet seats.

In 2015 there were 1,499 incidents of under 18s being stuck in things and 7,526 call outs to children stuck in things in the last five years.

The new figures coincide with the start of Child Safety Week (6-12 June) and the Brigade is asking parents to only dial 999 if it is a real emergency.

Mark Hazelton, Community Safety Group Manager said: “I’m a father so I know it’s impossible to watch your children every second of the day but with a bit of extra forethought and careful supervision it’s far better to prevent youngsters getting in a tight spot in the first place.

“Many of the incidents we get called to could be avoided with a little bit of common sense.

“I would ask parents to keep an eye on their children and only call 999 if it is a real emergency.”

The most unusual child rescues revealed

Some of most unusual child rescues in the last five years, the Brigade’s crews have been called out to rescue, include:

  • Child with its head stuck in a potty
  • Child with a finger caught in a tumble dryer
  • Child with a foot stuck in a manhole cover
  • Child with its hand stuck in a door
  • Baby with leg stuck in a cot
  • A 13 year old stuck in a baby swing in a park
  • Child trapped under a slide
  • A toilet seat stuck on a child’s head
  • Child with a toy train stuck on a finger
  • Child with knee stuck in a park merry-go-round

In 2015 the Brigade spent £488,674 on call-outs to under 18 year olds who accidentally locked themselves in rooms or got trapped in things.

This figure is based on £326 per call out which is the rate used to recover costs charged for services, such as repeated calls to shut in lift releases and false alarms from automatic systems.

takeaway map aims to reduce fire deaths

London Fire Brigade have been promoting the idea of opting for a takeaway as opposed to cooking when under the influence of alcohol for some time now.

Launched last year they have linked a map of London’s takeaway restaurants/establishments with hints and tips on safe cooking.

LFB Takeaway Map

Considering that, according to their figures 75% of fires started where alcohol was a factor involved a person cooking after alcohol consumption this approach must have some merit.

More fires and fire injuries are caused in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home, current statistics indicate that around 60 per cent of accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen. Taking a few simple measures can make all the difference.  LFB’s advice about safe cooking:

  • Avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • Don’t cook if you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that might make you drowsy
  • Take care not to lean over hot hobs and keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
  • Be careful to keep the oven, hob, cooker hood and grill clean to avoid a build-up of fat and grease, which could ignite and cause a fire
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers – they are much safer than matches or lighters as they don’t have a naked flame
  • Double check the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from anything that can catch fire
  • Never put anything metal in the microwave
  • Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony
  • Supervise children and pets in the kitchen at all times and keep matches and saucepan handles out of reach

If a pan catches fire

  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself and don’t attempt to move the pan
  • Never throw water over a fire as it could create a fireball
  • Turn off the heat, if it is safe to do so
  • Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call 999
Deep fat frying

  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it can easily overheat and catch fire
  • Never fill a pan more than one-third full of fat or oil
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil
  • If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • Use an electronic deep fat fryer if possible – they have built-in thermostats to control the temperature


This is why common areas should not be used for storage

We commented last month on a news story where disgruntled residents of a block of flats were bemoaning the fact they had been told they could not store personal items in the common parts of the block of flats they lived in.  It was one of the elf n safety gone mad” news stories we see so frequently.  A fire in a block of flats in Dundee last week helps show exactly why the common parts of blocks of flats should be maintained free from combustible storage with 3 men having to be plucked to safety from the roof by the Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire, which is being blamed on a discarded cigarette, broke out just after 9.30pm on Thursday. The three men were lifted from the roof by firefighters using an aerial rescue platform. They had managed to make their way there from the top floor flats.

Police, ambulances and several fire crews from Dundee were called to the scene in the Seagate area of the city.

Dundee fire station manager Craig Thomson said: “We don’t believe this fire was started deliberately but caused by the careless disposal of a cigarette.

“It is important to ensure smoking materials are properly extinguished before leaving the area, particularly if there are combustible materials nearby.

“We would urge people not to leave rubbish or bins in the common stairwells of tenement blocks for a number of reasons. It can be very attractive to fire-setters and increases the risk of a fire.”

No one was seriously injured in the fire but the smoke caused damage to the stairwell, electrics and lighting.