Did your New Year resolution list read:
Probably not, but be warned: if you are not prepared, your company could be in for an expensive shock.
Under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, the Fire and Rescue Service has authority to prosecute the owner of any commercial building, non-domestic or multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales for failing to maintain proper fire protection. Most businesses do this, but if the authorities believe assessments have been insufficiently carried out, the responsible person can face an unlimited fine, or up to two years in prison. Hardly a good way to start your new year!
The former owner of a care home in Runcorn, Cheshire, found out the hard way. He was given a 12-month suspended sentence this month, after pleading guilty at Chester Crown Court to three breaches of the fire safety order.<...Read More
If you think fire risk assessments are a nuisance, be warned by a court case in which two brothers were fined £126,000 for failing to carry out checks at their premises where Tenants, who were concerned for their safety, made their own makeshift escape routes.
In Chester Crown Court, Crewe, brothers Colin and Brian Silvester were fined after Tenant Complaints revealed failures is basic fire safety. The brothers pleaded guilty to 11 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO). Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) brought the prosecution after a tenant complained about lack of fire safety. The breaches included:
Mick is happy to carry out detailed fire risk assessments and has helped schools to get funding for improvements, as a result of wh...Read More
Fire not only damages or destroys buildings and, in the worst cases, people's lives, it can also have a knock-on impact on thousands associated with any business affected.
Take the blaze at the Asos warehouse in Barnsley on 20 June 2014, for example. It forced the online fashion retailer to suspend its website and stop taking orders for several days, costing the firm potentially millions in damage, lost stock and repairs to sprinkler systems.
The fire, which South Yorkshire Police believe was started deliberately, affected several floors of the vast Asos distribution centre and took more than 60 firefighters to bring under control.
About 500 workers were in the building when the fire broke out and the company now faces the nightmare of getting its operations back on track.
None of us wants to look at the darkest scenario which could befall our business, but it is a grim fact that if fire hits, we might be looking failure in the face.
Confused by the health and safety maze? Let us help you find the right track, we might even save your sanity!
A visit to an exhibition put on by EduKent, a department of Kent County Council which provides support for education, proved an interesting and worthwhile exercise for Mick.
During the day, he met representatives from schools and colleges across the county who were concerned at the number of fire safety requirements and how they should respond. He was able to answer their questions and help provide what many of the delegates called a "sanity check".
Mick says: "The main concern among visitors seemed to be 'we haven't got enough time. We know fire protection is important and we need to know what we're doing is right.'
"It appears staff get anxious when they've had a fire risk assessment, or one is due, and find they are faced with a raft of actions or recommendations and don't know where to start - or, if they have started, they wonder if they ...Read More
Keep calm and carry out your duties best sums up the work of a fire warden. And every business employing more than five people must now have at least one.
If you'll excuse the slight misquote of the now-famous words of the war-time poster, the role of the appointed fire warden is vital to the safety of anyone in their care. It's not a difficult task, but training is essential, which is where we come in.
Our trained engineers are happy to visit your company premises, to check out fire safety regulations are being followed and we also run fire warden training at our headquarters - or at your site if you've got the space
The course covers all the roles and responsibilities of a fire warden and, as a bonus, includes practical training using fire extinguishers - another requirement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (known as the RRO) which made the role obligatory under UK fire safety rules. Any company employing more than five people can be prosec...Read More
We're always intrigued to hear unusual requests for help, like the one from Steven Wickenden who needed supplies of CO2 in our fire extinguishers to provide realistic emissions from his Back to the Future replica DeLorean car (see article here).
This month, we received a request for CO2 fire extinguishers for a fish pond and although we are still not entirely sure how they helped keep the fish happy, we were pleased to hear life-saving extends to all forms of life.
The tale reminded our lead instructor Tony of his time in the fire brigade when, as a young fireman, he rigged up a solution for a distraught fish farm owner during a storm who'd lost power to his ponds. Tony found a way to use the air from his breathing apparatus cylinders to keep the fish alive until power could be restored, to the delight of the owner.
Tony's had a busy month - instructing confined space training, STCW Maritime and Coastguard Agency firefighting training, fire warden training, f...Read More
Constant vigilance is needed when protecting your property from fire - and that means checking all safety equipment is in full working order.
One of the issues which is easy to overlook in this busy world is the maintenance of fire-fighting equipment, particularly extinguishers. It's not enough just to ensure you have adequate supplies for any emergency, you need to keep an eye on the condition of them, too.
At Fire Security Services, we've noticed an increase in the number of fire extinguishers with plastic heads affected by UV degradation. This is potentially a very serious hazard and it's another thing you need to be looking out for.
Like many products we buy in our day-to-day lives, there are different types and quality of fire extinguisher on the market and, similarly, their shelf life and safety vary tremendously. Some are easier to damage, because they are made from inferior material, some rust quicker, some have so many intricate parts they are not co...Read More
Keep it clear and simple, it could save a life. That's the message being sent out to businesses nationwide, as new regulations over safety signs come into effect.
The Health and Safety Sign Association has reminded all businesses and public bodies that compliance to the new British Standard European Norm regulations is compulsory. The approved signs have been redesigned and updated, to ensure that the safety message is conveyed in an immediately understandable way.
Mick explains: "The law requires safety signs that are used within premises should be clearly understood. There is a duty on the responsible person to carry out an audit, review any significant finding and, if necessary, make the necessary changes." He points out that any changes to graphical symbols on the safety signs must conform to BS EN ISO 7010 regulations, to ensure compliance with the law.
Legislation requires a formal risk assessment to be carried out, to discover where safety signs should...Read More
A touch of 80s celebrity came our way, with a visit from entrepreneur Steven Wickenden.
Steven, who lives in Walmer on the Kent coast, popped in on his rounds as an accounts manager, to see if we could help with a personal project he was working on - re-creating the magic of the popular sci-fi film "Back to the Future".
As an avid collector of props, costumes and memorabilia connected with the film industry, Steven had become the proud owner of a replica DeLorean car used in promotions for the 25th anniversary of the movie in 2010.
He saw the car was on sale by Universal Studios and snapped it up for £47,000, arranging for it to be shipped from Los Angeles to Southampton in 2011.
Steven said: "I collect lots of costumes, props and memorabilia connected with films and the chance to buy the Back to the Future car was too good to miss. It took eight weeks to be shipped to the UK and we had it transported to our home in Walmer, where it sat on our drive ...Read More
You've completed a course in fire-fighting techniques required for mariners, but how much will you recall in five years?
Regulations set by the international maritime industry and governed by the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) in 2010 have just come into force. They require that delegates update their qualifications every five years and all must have completed relevant up-to-date training by 1 January, 2017.
Until now, there was no agreed timescale for the updating or refreshing of specific safety training, but under the crucial "manila amendment", mariners must prove they have revisited their fire-fighting training every five years.
The STCW requirement covers two courses - fire-fighting and fire prevention and advanced fire-fighting.
Here at Fire Security Services, we are already accredited by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to deliver these two courses and we've just been approved to deliver the new "updating" cours...Read More
A question we are often asked is: "How often do we need to have a fire drill?" The short answer, according to government guidance, is at least once a year, but it's vital to check out the practicalities of evacuating a building safely first - and to ensure that everyone knows what to do.
In our experience fire drills are essential to test that the processes you have defined really work in practice and that you can get everyone to a safe, accessible place.
Here are some pointers on how best to go about this:
1 Know what's required
UK fire safety law sets down very precise information for owners and occupiers of commercial buildings. This includes the need to provide an emergency plan, giving clear instructions over how people will get out if there's a fire and where they will assemble safely, so that they can be accounted for.
2 Choose your safety spot
The law requires that "emergency exits must lead as...Read More
Honesty and openness in business create loyalty and support in your customers. There's no secret: with Fire Security Services, what we quote for is what you pay - no "hidden extra" charges to catch you unawares.
Yet that's not always the case with suppliers. As an example, this week an application came in from a client for two items of life-saving confined space equipment which required sending to two different specialist companies for annual service. To avoid any misunderstandings, we obtained a quote, reported back to the client, and got the go-ahead.
Yet, when the items were returned, invoices from each of the suppliers included the annual service fee, along with "additional costs for consumable items" - adding at least another 20 per cent to each quote.
When we queried this with the supplier, we were told: "Oh yes, that item always needs an O-ring/rope change/new pin at annual service." So why didn't they quote for it in the first place? We can only presu...Read More
How clear are your emergency signs and could they save a life? Thanks to new standard now adopted throughout the European Union, you can be sure your message is getting across to the people who need to know it in a crisis.
ISO 7010, as the standard is officially known, is the accepted graphic language to relay important safety messages, such as where lifesaving equipment is kept, or the direction of emergency exits.
Since the language was universally adopted, building managers, property owners and estate managers are required to identify hazards and mark the position of emergency equipment and life-saving appliances. Safety managers have an obligation to inform and educate all occupants about risk control, to prohibit certain behaviour and give mandatory instruction, to ensure everyone is kept safe.
But, despite the adoption of the sign language, its universal use is still a fair way off. Look around any public building and you'll see a wide range of graphic ...Read More
Amanda Barker knows only too well the dangers of fire and how devastating it can be to a business. Almost 20 years ago, a building on her family farm burned down within just two hours.
Amanda, who runs Essentially Hops from the tenanted farm at Bekesbourne, near Canterbury, recalls the awful day in 1996 when an oast house on site was reported alight at 8am and was an empty shell by 10. She said: "It was awful and really brought home the message about how fast a fire can take hold and the damage it can do."
It's hardly surprising, therefore, that Amanda and her husband Mike take fire safety very seriously and we were delighted to be called in to check out the commercial units at Chalk Pit Farm, where she runs her shop selling decorative hops and fresh flowers for, among other clients, Covent Garden and Marks and Spencer. Other businesses in the units include Bourne Vets and speciality cake-makers Mama Feelgood's and we service fire extinguishers for everyone.
It's a temptation in a recession to shelve, or reduce, training for employees, but government regulations require certain levels of safety awareness. So how do hard-pressed businesses balance the legal requirements against the cost of courses? Help is at hand, if you know where to look for it. The CITB, SSAFA and the Job Centre have all providing funding to delegates on our recent training courses.
One of the most popular types of training provided by Fire Security Services is the City and Guilds Confined Spaces course, which teaches delegates to identify risks and how to cope with the difficulties of working underground, or in areas of poor ventilation. We also run fire-fighting courses for employees in the maritime industry, some of whom are former servicemen and women.
Anyone on a City and Guilds-approved course can apply for specialist funding support from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Here are a few pointers to what financial support is availa...Read More
Who is it for?
Suitable for people 18 years and over, this course is designed for anyone wanting to become an accredited first aider or appointed person. Staff who work in lower hazards environments, have fewer staff or where HSE guidelines indicate staff should be trained and hold a certificate in Emergency First Aid at Work.
Duration: 1 day
Course content includes:
Who is it for?
Suitable for people 18 years and over, this course is designed for anyone wanting to become an accredited first aider or appointed person. Particularly appropriate to companies where HSE guidelines recommend a trained first aider qualified in first aid at work.
Duration: 3 days.
Course content includes:
Training and preparation are key to protecting schoolchildren from the risk of fire. And we at Fire Security Services are here to help.
Head teacher at Capel-le-Ferne Primary School David Metcalfe has used our fire risk assessment process regularly and speaks warmly of the service we offer. He said: "I was told about Fire Security Services by one of my governors, who works for P&O Ferries' safety department; Fire Security Services has provided their shore fire protection and maritime fire training for their cross-Channel staff for many years. The recommendation proved invaluable.
"Mick Daly and his team provided a practical, professional and reasonably priced service. Our school building is 40 years old and the advice given by Fire Security Services over how to improve and adapt it to conform to the latest fire regulations was thorough, realistic, practical and professional. I trusted what they told us and they wrote a comprehensive, readable report which any lay per...Read More
Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Do you know what to do in an emergency?
It certainly makes sense to have someone on hand who does!
We are accredited first-aid trainers, offering training approved by the Health and Safety Executive for staff in the workplace. And, from autumn 2013, we will be providing courses under new regulations drawn up for employers.
From 13 October, the Health and Safety Executive will no longer have to approve training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel, giving employers greater flexibility to choose who provides training and what level of first-aid knowledge suits their business.
What does this mean to us, and to you? Our customers are assured a commitment to cost-effective training, whatever your requirements. You can be sure that you're getting the right course to meet your legal obligations, now and when the new regulations come in.
And if you need any advice on how the changes will a...Read More
Contractors tunneling underground on an ambitious cross-London rail link are working in safer environment, thanks to our specialist fire fighting in confined spaces training.
The workmen employed to complete the 42 kilometres of tunnels as part of the ambitious project to link the capital to East Anglia were enrolled on a firefighting course with Fire Security Services, using our specialist training tunnel at the former mines rescue centre in Aylesham.
We were delighted to be able to offer the teams advice on how to work safely around the massive tunnel boring machines and how to guard against the dangers of working underground.
The Crossrail link, which will open in phases over the next six years, will run trains from Liverpool Street to the east coast, starting with a link to Shenfield in Essex. It is due to be completed by 2019.
Working in confined spaces courses are among the most popular of our training courses. Confined spaces can be above, or b...Read More
Fire protection has been Nigel Smith's life for decades and he's dedicated to passing on safety tips to others.
Nigel's fire-fighting career began at Pfizer's in Sandwich, when he joined the company's part-time retained crew while working as a manufacturing technician. The role continued for 15 years and included three years as full-time emergency response person for the site. At one time, he was the main safety officer in charge of 3,500 people - quite a responsibility.
When Pfizer's closed the site last year, Nigel was made redundant and spent the summer relaxing and catching up with life at home - until Mick Daly of Fire Security Services got in touch, letting him know of a job opportunity with the company.
Nigel explained: "Mick told me he was looking for someone to work in the fire extinguisher servicing side of the business and that my old boss had told him I was available. I was lucky enough to get the job and I've been working for Mick since October a...Read More
Your business fire alarm goes off and you await the blue flashing lights and the siren, letting you know a Kent Fire brigade crew is on its way to check out the premises. Correct? Not since the introduction of new regulations on 2 April this year.
Under changes to Kent Fire and Rescue Services (KFRS) policy, anyone responsible for a property where an alarm is sounding must confirm to 999 staff that there is a fire, or signs of a fire before any crew is sent to investigate.
A KFRS spokesman explained: "This is an extension of the policy introduced in April, 2012, which affected daytime calls. All premises with automatic fire alarm systems will need to ensure their fire risk assessment reflects the change to the policy, that procedures are in place to confirm a fire and that all staff and occupants affected by the changes are aware of what to do when the alarm sounds."
The spokesman outlined the responsibility on those responsible for premises:
Do you know where the nearest fire extinguisher is - and how to use it safely? Research shows that early intervention is vital, saving lives and property.
A study by the Fire Industry Association in 2008 revealed that 80 per cent of blazes fought with an appropriate extinguisher were successfully put out and that in 75 per cent of cases there was no need to call the emergency services.
Chief Executive of the association Graham Ellicott writes: "Based on these findings, there is no doubt that portable fire extinguishers play an important role in the preservation of life and property.
"They can reduce the risk of a small fire, for example in a waste paper bin, developing into a large one."
Mr Ellicott highlights the importance of proper training in the use of extinguishers and of having designated fire wardens, responsible for ensuring all members of staff in any organisation are safely evacuated from the building, if necessary. Advice on safe escape ro...Read More
Alarming facts about fires in schools keep us here at Fire Security fixed on our aim to educate as many teachers and pupils as possible about the potential dangers lurking in the classroom.
National statistics show that every year, more than 1,300 schools in the UK suffer fires large enough to require emergency services. Of these, 56 per cent are described as "non-accidental", which underlines the importance of educating people about the dangers of fire.
Government figures put the average cost of school fires between 2000 and 2004 at £58 million per year, but research shows that many fires are not reported, at least to the emergency services, particularly if they go out by themselves, or are put out by staff. The Arson Prevention Bureau published research in 1998 showing that more than a half of all school fires fell into this category and that the total cost of unreported fires was likely to be significant.
A major fire in a school in Poole, Dorset, earlier...Read More
A career in the Royal Navy left Mick and Julie Daly with a host of useful skills, which they have transferred to civilian life in the hope of helping others to work in a safe and legal environment.
Fire Security Services is run by the couple on the site of a Mines Rescue Station in Aylesham, having bought the business from Julie's parents four years ago. From here they offer a series of fire prevention and firefighting courses to companies and educational establishments.
The specialist nature of the work is ideally suited to the surroundings, an old Mines Rescue Station snapped up by Julie's dad Graham Wilkinson when it was sold by the National Coal Board in the early-1990s.
Julie explained: "My father left school at 15 and worked in a mine in Derbyshire, later joining the Mines Rescue Service up there, transferring down south and ending up as Superintendent of the Mines Rescue Service in Kent. He spotted the potential for using the resources at Aylesham for...Read More
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