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Report reveals fire concerns for numerous schools across Scotland

EVERY school authority in Scotland has been contacted by the Scottish Government minister responding to a scandal over fresh fire safety fears revealed in report produced by Professor John Cole.

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Housing and Local Government has told councils to follow recommendations in the report by Cole over fireproofing, or “fire stopping” which involves sealing specified wall spaces and voids with fire resistant materials.   Eight PPP schools in Merseyside were found to have “sub-standard fireproofing” and the problem was raised as being potentially widespread.

Edinburgh City Council said in a statement that “issues raised in the report regarding fire stopping in the 17 schools are being rectified and the Council has employed a fire safety expert to ensure all buildings remain safe for occupancy”.  Gordon Macdonald, Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP: “For ten year’s school children in my constituency have been attending schools where there were fire-stopping defects.

“As the report highlights, fire-stopping measures ‘prevent the spread of smoke or flame through hidden voids and gaps’ these could potentially spread fire rapidly and undetected, that that could otherwise lead to avoidable risk to life and unnecessary damage to property’.

“Parents in my area need the reassurance that the necessary fire-stopping remedial work is complete and will be subject to inspection by a fire-safety expert to confirm that all necessary remedial work has been done and that it has been done to the required standards.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15082873.Herald_View__Serious_questions_about_PPP_projects/

 

If someone is rescued or injured in a fire in rented accommodation you’ll certainly be looking at a huge fine!

Kaiser Javeed Choudry, 49, of Atkinson Grove, Shotton Colliery, admitted to breaches of fire safety regulations, while he pleaded guilty on behalf of his company Hyatt Accommodation Services and has been ordered to pay more than £20,000 in costs and fines following his appearance in Peterlee Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Inspection by the fire service revealed safety breaches, including a fire door with its handles taken and wedged open and another with its self-closing mechanism removed at his property, Albert Guest House, in Front Street, Shotton Colliery near Peterlee, which accommodated vulnerable adults at the time.

Choudry gave undertakings to resolve the problems following a fire service inspection and not to use the first floor for residents but less than four months later, on May 8, a fire was deliberately started by another resident in a storage cupboard under the stairs.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service were called to large blaze on the first floor of the premises on January 17 last year; there were 12 people in the property at the time, three of whom had to be rescued – including a woman who required overnight hospital treatment. The fire had been deliberately started by a resident.

This is a typical example of the ‘Responsible Person’ not acting upon either the recommendations of a fire risk assessment (assuming it was suitable and sufficient) and/or the advice provided by the fire service resulting in court action.

This is particularly relevant if someone has to be rescued, is injured or worse dies in a fire in commercial premises as it is expected that the passive and active fire safety features provided should allow those occupants to be made aware of a fire and be able to escape, without rescue, via normal protected routes in the building.  Those that fail to provide simple fire protection and a duty of care, in this case of their residents, will almost certainly look forward to heavy penalties and fines or even prison sentences if found guilty.

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Milton – Stoke on Trent – Plastics Recycling Fire

A huge fire at a plastics recycling plant in Milton, Stoke on Trent that broke out early this morning (5th Feb 2017) challenged Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service; their Chief Fire Officer, Rob Barber attended indicating how severe the incident is.  It is expected that fire crews will be there all day and possibly night as they damp down and pull apart the whole site to ensure that all items are extinguished which will probably involve the use of heavy plant and equipment onsite.  The environmental impact will be a key part in the fire services fire fighting strategy with procedures in place to reduce contaminated firefighting water run-off reaching water courses.   The operators of the site should have in place contingency plans to deal with such an event as this as it is a key part of the licencing conditions.  Called a Fire Prevention Plan, it is essentially a large fire risk and contingency plan that has to be prepared and assessed by the Environment Agency and covers aspects such as ignition sources, combustible items, storage and spacing, turn around of stock, fire fighting facilities, training, water run-off, access for fire services and of course, plans for the environmental effects it will have in the immediate and surrounding areas.  Hurtwood Fire have worked on sites such as these before and can assist recycling plants achieve compliance by working with the Environment Agency.

The Barley Mow Pub Fire – Horseferry Road

Three #LFB (London Fire Brigade) fire appliances attended The Barley Mow public house in Horseferry Road, Westminster this morning to deal with a fire in a 1st floor kitchen!

Called at 0930 hrs the fire was under control in just over an hour. Fires in pubs are becoming more common and are considered to be relatively a high risk in terms of fire safety as more often that not accommodation is provided onsite for staff, generally above the pub; add to that accommodation for guests results in a much greater risk.  Pub landlords and mangers are seeking more innovative ways to make profit from running a pub as costs rise and the popularity drops due to smoking laws and increased awareness of the dangers of drink driving.  Providing live music, unique entertainment and the use of the pub for large social events all adds additional fire risks.  It is at this point that the fire risk assessment, if one exists, has to be reviewed and assessed. This is not a task for the ‘average’ landlord and requires specialist and competent help from a professional fire risk assessor.  Add to that a structured fire evacuation plan and quality training then the outlook of a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment is questionable in a lot of cases.  Help of course can be provided by Hurtwood Fire! Check us out on Facebook or on our website www.hurtwoodfire.co.uk    We offer a wide range of support for businesses that can help you achieve fire safety compliance. 

 

Fatal Ferry Fire in the Adriatic – Norman Atlantic Fire

It has come to light that the Norman Atlantic, the stricken passenger ferry that caught alight in the Adriatic on Sunday 28th December, had serious fire safety deficiencies prior to sailing but none of the deficiencies were deemed to be of sufficient concern for the ship to be detained.

The ferry was operated by a Greek shipping company Anek who were informed by the Port State Control officials that following an inspection carried in the port of Patras in Greece on December 19th, that they had found six fire safety deficiencies.

All of these deficiencies play a key role in preventing and delaying smoke and fire spread to allow sufficient time to fight the fire and/or to evacuate the area, in this case a ship and if needed, on to life boats.  These are simple and basic fire safety principles adopted in buildings and apply equally, but more importantly on ships.  Among the problems discovered included:

  1. Openings in fire-resisting divisions/compartments.
  2. Defective and malfunctioning fire doors
  3. Watertight doors that did not meet current guidelines
  4. Emergency lighting, batteries and switches that were missing or defective
  5. Unapproved emergency procedures and plans that relate to the search and rescue of passengers.
  6. Problems with life-saving appliances

The ferry was sailing from Patros in Greece to Anconia in Italy with 478 passengers along with 200 vehicles.  It is reported that 471 passengers were rescued but sadly seven people died but it remains unknown at present whether these fire safety problems had any impact on the resultant intense fire spread and fatalities.

Caravan Fire Results in 3 Fatalities

The BBC reports (http://tinyurl.com/qhaef5f) that three people died in a caravan fire in Newchapel in Surrey during the night (30th December).

Details of the cause is as yet unknown but it is a stark reminder that all homes including caravans should have smoke alarms fitted.  In addition, depending on the type of heating provided in the caravan, carbon monoxide detection is recommended.  Fire blankets should be available along with a suitable small fire extinguisher, dry powder ideally.  Although messy they are a multi-purpose, quick acting extinguisher.

If on a commercial caravan site, at least 6 metre gaps between caravans along with good access for fire appliances.  Fire alert system should be provided to alert others of a fire along with additional fire fighting equipment nearby.

Hurtwood Fire can provide all of your fire safety requirements so feel free to contact us.

London Fire Brigade Prosecute and Fine Pub Landlord £35,000

The London Fire Brigade prosecuted (http://tinyurl.com/pzzfhx9) a pub landlord and fined her £35,000 after potentially putting tenants who live above the pub at risk!

The Bell House, on Bell Street, Marylebone, run by Romana Chohan pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 namely:-

  • Inadequate fire detection in the property
  • Escape routes that wouldn’t offer protection from fire and smoke
  • Failure to maintain fire extinguishers, and
  • No fire risk assessment for the property.

She was sentenced at Hammersmith Magistrates Court on Tuesday 9th December 2014 and was ordered to pay a £35,000 fine and court costs of £9000.

This all came about whilst Mrs Chohan had been carrying out refurbishment work on the upper floors of the property which are let out as bedsits. It transpires that a prospective tenant of one of the rooms complained to Westminster Council about the facilities who subsequently alerted the London Fire Brigade.

Following an inspection by the London Fire Brigade fire safety officers, they  issued with an enforcement notice in October 2012, detailing what work needed to be done to address these concerns, but despite ample time and opportunity to get the work completed, the landlord had still had not complied with the enforcement notice and the decision was taken to prosecute.

Unless there are truly serious and/or an immediate risk of death or serious injury to people in a building, the fire service always allow sufficient time for businesses to resolve fire safety failings but if the guidance and terms issued by the fire service are not followed or ignored then they will apply, and rightly so, the full force of the Fire Safety Order.  There really is no excuse.

Providing, what is termed a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment, is still not understood fully by some businesses. Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  Hurtwood Fire Risk Management Ltd can help you achieve fire safety compliance and help you avoid such situations.

E – Cigarettes – fire concern or not?

Well, there it is, E-cigarettes are now deemed to be a fire risk and were included in the Electrical Fire Safety Week programme that was run during the week beginning the 10th November.

It was part of the government’s endorsement of Electrical Fire Safety Week and how important it is to ensure that consumers have relevant information, guidance and access to such identified fire risks.  The Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt, launched a number of new initiatives in response to the public concerns over their use including tips on how to minimise any risk of accidents from over-charging or faulty chargers.

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully
  • Note any warnings supplied with the product
  • Try not to leave e-cigarette chargers on for unnecessarily long periods of time
  • Certainly don’t leave them plugged in overnight or when you are out of the house
  • Check the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European Safety standards
  • Don’t overload plug sockets – use one charger in one socket
  • Research and check that your product has not been recalled
  • Truly avoid buying counterfeit or substandard goods
  • Believe it or not, best to switch off appliances at the socket when not in use

Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (ASR 2014)

The new regulations consolidate a range of legislative instruments including regulations and orders into a single set of regulations and simplify and where appropriate, modernise legislative arrangements for compressed acetylene gas.

The main changes include:

  • there will no longer be a requirement to seek HSE approval for certain acetylene equipment (including flashback arrestors and the composition of acetylene cylinders) so long as they comply with current recognised (national/international) standards.
  • anyone wishing to manufacture, compress or fill a cylinder with acetylene gas greater than 0.62 bar (g) is required to hold a licence, replacing the current complex process for gaining approval.

The new Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (ASR 2014) are available online.

INDG 327: ‘Working safely with acetylene’ provides guidance on the fire and explosion hazards of acetylene. Further information is also provided in the HSE fire and explosion microsite.

Explosives – new regulations effective on the 1st October 2014

The new Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER 2014) and the Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (ASR 2014) take effect on 1 October 2014.

Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014)

ER 2014 consolidates and revokes a number of existing explosives regulations into a framework based around areas of authorisation, safety, security and placement on the market.

The précis of changes:

  • Merging registrations into the licensing system
  • Allowing local authorities to issue licences up to 5 years, aligning them with equivalent HSE/police-issued licences
  • Extending licensing to address storage of ammonium nitrate blasting intermediate (ANBI)
  • Exceptions for keeping higher hazard and desensitised explosives without a licence have been updated
  • Tables of separation distances have been restructured to better allow for sites with more than one store. The tables have also been revised to cover quantities of explosives greater than 2000kg
  • A revised list of explosives that can be acquired or acquired and kept without an explosives certificate from the police.
  • The repeal of the Fireworks Act 1951, as its remaining provisions have been superseded by the Pyrotechnic (Safety) Regulations 2010

As a result of the consolidation the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (L139) will be withdrawn when the new regulations come into force. Other guidance that relates to the control of explosives and the placing of civil use explosives on the market will also be withdrawn.

The Explosive Regulations will be supported by a suite of overarching and subsector guidance.

The overarching guidance consists of two documents:

Drafts of these documents are available on the HSE website

Berkshire Pizza Company ignored fire safety notice and fined £21,000 with £8000 costs

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority brought the charges against ONPJ Ltd following an inspection of the premises by Fire Safety and Environmental Health Officers in early January 2012.

Pizza company representative, Mr. Singh from ONPJ Limited, pleaded guilty on the company’s behalf at Maidenhead Magistrates Court on Thursday 28 August for failing to take adequate fire precautions in respect of the premises trading as a pizza delivery business in Newbury, Berkshire

The inspection identified significant and serious contraventions of fire safety regulations. These included:

  • No fire protection for the fire escape routes
  • Storage material within the ground, first and second floors of the fire escape route
  • No fire alarm system
  • No emergency lighting
  • No fire risk assessment
  • No firefighting equipment

The case was heard by District Judge Vickers and in summing up stated that the breaches to fire safety regulations had placed people at serious risk of injury and hence the level of fine imposed.

It comes as a stark reminder that the fire service in general is beginning to tighten up on fire safety failings, particularly if they are ignored following an inspection. The format of the notifications can be as simple as a verbal discussion to a letter of deficiencies or an enforcement notice or at work a prohibition to trade or operate a business.

Hurtwood Fire can provide the support that is needed in these circumstances and help is just a phone call away weekdays, evenings and weekends.

Fire safety duties and the capability of employees

Fire Safety (Employee’s Capabilities) (England) Regulations 2010

A small but often overlooked legal document that can have huge implications on the ‘Responsible Person’ (that has the control of a building in respect of fire safety) who may allocate fire safety duties to their employees and managers.

The new Regulation will not necessarily impose an additional burden on employers and in reality many employers may already have taken into account the content of this regulation. However, it would be prudent for employers to review whether employees who have been delegated fire safety tasks have the requisite capability and whether their existing fire safety procedures are compliant with the new regulations.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, came into force in October 2006, it consolidated a wide range of previous legislation in relation to fire safety and introduced the compulsory requirement for all businesses to conduct a suitable fire assessment of their premises.

This legislation had an additional supplement that was issued in early 2010 and referred to as “The Fire Safety (Employee’s Capabilities) (England) Regulations 2010” and became effective from April 2010.

These regulations place a responsibility on the employers in England to consider the capabilities of their employees as regards health and safety when entrusting them with fire safety related tasks.

Some of the duties, for example, may involve carrying out fire risk assessments and being a nominated fire warden or marshal functions in addition to possibly other work involving fire safety tests and inspections.

The result is that employers need to make sure that their employees have the appropriate training, skills and experience for the tasks delegated to them.
Hurtwood Fire can provide guidance, support and training in this area of work and will be able to verify if you are compliant.  If you wish to discuss this or any other fire safety concerns, feel free to contact us at any time, evenings and weekends included on the contact information on this website.

Fire Service Strike Action

If you are really concerned about the fire safety of your home or commercial premises, feel free to contact Hurtwood Fire anytime up to midnight including weekends.

The service is free and if needs be, we can attend your premises to help, guide and support you and provide you with a degree help to allay you of any fears you may have during the industrial action by Surrey Fire & Rescue or any other fire authority.

Phone 01483-559754 or 07966-158424. OR info@hurtwoodfire.co.uk

Stay safe.

On-Line & ‘in the cloud’ fire risk assessments

It won’t be long now for Hurtwood Fire’s clients and any newcomers to make use of our new fire safety management support to with their fire risk assessment and fire safety management all online; it’s all only a matter of weeks away.

Our clients will have immediate online access to their fire risk assessment and will be able to improve or otherwise, hour by hour, their property fire risk rating, if, as and when they resolve any negative findings in the action plan of their fire risk assessment.

Our facilities will provide the client with prompting e-mails and guidance to ensure that their business stays on top of the testing, inspecting and maintenance programme for their premises and help towards fire safety compliance.  Introduction to the service and the annual management costs are quite minimal based on the peace of mind the service provides.  Everything is available to view or print online in addition to being accessible for the fire enforcing authority to peruse if required.

For more information contact Hurtwood Fire

Knowtheplan – High Rise Fire Safety

The London Fire Brigade’s new fire safety promotion in high rise dwellings (www.knowtheplan.co.uk) is not new to the Director of Hurtwood Fire.  He was providing such advice, guidance and support when he was a fire officer in the London Fire Brigade years before the more recently public problems associated with fires in tall blocks of flats came to light and certainly long before the controversial Lakanal House fire in London in July 2009 where six people died.

Hurtwood Fire can provide the support and guidance needed to local authorities and private landlords for such multi-storey occupancies.  The fire risks are no greater in high rise dwellings but the buildings have to be managed, maintained and inspected with greater regularity with emphasis on building design, fire safety features, fire strategy and occupier/resident awareness of the evacuation strategy if a fire occurs.

Contact Hurtwood Fire if you feel you require advice or guidance on this website.

Theatre Fire – East Sussex

hings didn’t bode well for the Cliffe Bonfire Society who hired out the Phoenix Theatre in Lewes, East Sussex, when it was destroyed by fire last night (29th March 2014).

The theatre and arts centre was on a commercial industrial estate and within a converted light industrial unit with timber floors and a large wood burning stove. Providing a heavy fire load for any potential fire that might start and with the inherent fire risks associated with theatres i.e. stage scenery, curtains, costumes, lighting and seating in addition to artwork displays from local artists, meant that despite Lewes Fire Station being only a matter of 100 metres away as the crow flies, the fire service were still unable to save the building or any of its contents.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Death of a Fire Fighter

Hurtwood Fire would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Clifford Cox, a fire fighter from the Surrey Fire & Rescue Service who we understand collapsed and died suddenly whilst on duty last Saturday.

Based at Staines Fire Station, he served with Surrey F & R for 25 years.  The death is not thought to have been work related but due to the circumstances it is being investigated by the Surrey Police.

In previous days he had been actively involved in helping the community with the flooding problems that Staines had suffered over recent weeks.

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