Woolworth’s Fire 1978


It is 35 years since the fire at Woolworths in Manchester cost 10 people their lives.
The store was full at lunchtime when furniture caught fire.
It influenced changes in legislation and thankfully there have been great advances in safety since.

Fire in E-cig Charger

An electronic cigarette is believed to have sparked a fire at a flat, after it exploded while on charge.

Fire chiefs investigating the blaze at the apartment in Barking, in East London, said they believe the device could have overheated while it was plugged into a mains socket.

Four fire engines and 21 firefighters rescued a woman from the ground floor flat shortly after 3.30pm on Saturday, and she was taken to hospital by ambulance with smoke inhalation and shock.

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An electronic cigarette is believed to have sparked a fire at a flat, after it exploded while on charge. Fire chiefs investigating the blaze at the apartment in Barking, in East London, said they believe the device could have overheated while it was plugged into a mains socket

An electronic cigarette is believed to have sparked a fire at a flat, after it exploded while on charge. Fire chiefs investigating the blaze at the apartment in Barking, in East London, said they believe the device could have overheated while it was plugged into a mains socket. A large section of the ground floor flat was damaged by the fire.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2605256/Now-e-cigarette-explodes-starts-flat-fire-leaving-one-woman-hospital-device-overheated-charging.html#ixzz2z99OxYdi
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Designing Fire Risk Management into Buildings:

Acknowledgement to: Ben Bradford, Managing Director,

The risk posed in premises by the threat of fire – to people, property, mission continuity and the environment – is often governed more by management competence than the level of fire protection.
Management must therefore be considered as important as fire protection measures when it comes to building design.
Whilst the formal responsibilities of the designer, building control body and fire engineering consultant largely end when a building is completed and occupied, another responsibility begins: their design liability.
Much of the fire strategy will rely on management assumptions and hence it is imperative that Building Control Bodies take a much more proactive approach to enforcing Regulation 38 (Fire Safety Information) just as the Scottish Government has done.
Fire Strategies can sometimes fail to afford the attention to management that management deserves and there is often a lack of appreciation among design teams of the fire safety manager’s role and the implications of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This legislation is rigorously enforced and punishments can be severe.
It is a fundamental assumption that the measures set out within national guidance documents such as Approved Document B or BS9999:2008 will require management and maintenance throughout the life of the building. The key management issues relating to a new project should be identified at the earliest possible stage and ‘where possible’ taken into account when drafting the buildings fire strategy.
Most non-domestic multi-fatality fires have management failings as their root cause and there are numerous examples that support this view.
The fatal incident inquiry held after the deaths of fourteen elderly residents at Rose Park Care Home, concluded that “The management of fire safety at Rosepark was systematically and seriously defective” and went on to say that “The deficiencies in the management of fire safety at Rosepark contributed to the deaths in that a number of key circumstances would have been quite different if there had been an adequate system of fire safety management”.
So what is an adequate system of fire safety management?
The ‘general approach’ to prescriptive fire safety solutions offered within Approved Document B (and equivalent guidance in Scotland and Northern Ireland) assumes an adequate level of fire safety management; neither an unrealistic level of excellence nor a complete disregard for the minimum legislative requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland). The guidance assumes the level of fire safety management to be something of an ‘acceptable norm’.
The ‘Advanced approach’ to prescriptive fire safety solutions offered within BS9999:2008 refers to the standard or quality of management system as the management system level. There are three management levels, with level 1 giving the highest level of management, level 2 giving a normally accepted level of management, and level 3 giving a very basic level of management.
Despite the definition of three management levels, readers of BS 9999:2008 may be surprised to find that the adoption of a management level does not lead to design flexibility further in the document, despite the aspirations alluded to regarding variation of the guidance in section 4.2.
Furthermore, there is a widely held view within the fire safety profession that management level 1 is unachievable. The guidance goes on to say that irrespective of the guidance, an enforcing body might be of the view that a level 3 management system will not meet the legislative requirements placed on occupiers, owners or other responsible persons.
Without guidance on minimum fire risk management system requirements how can we determine the management system level?
Acknowledging the difficulties of evaluating fire safety management without a formalised system, British Standards Institution has published PAS 7: 2013 – Fire Risk Management System Specification, which clearly establishes management system requirements in line with International Standards Organisation guidance. The standard works in harmony with other internationally accepted management system standards for Business Continuity and Health and Safety.
Health Technical Memorandum 05-01: Managing healthcare fire safety states in section 5.20 “A specification for fire risk management systems is available in PAS 7 – ‘Fire Risk Management System Specification’ (2013 edition) and this Health Technical Memorandum can be considered as healthcare-specific guidance supporting such a specification to identify the basic requirements of a fire safety management system”.
PAS 79 stated “Fire Safety Management must be regarded as of equal importance to fire protection measures” but more than this, a building with first rate fire protection measures yet poor management, may pose a greater risk than a building with limited fire protection measures and good management.
So what is an enhanced management system?
In order to demonstrate that an enhanced level of Fire Safety Management will reduce risk, we need a credible means of measuring Fire Risk Management. An organisation that has formalised its fire risk management policy, strategy, objectives, and procedures, and then implemented a program of audit and management review is an organisation that is proactively assessing its management on a regular basis and this will ensure that the standard or quality of management does not fall below the assumed ‘acceptable norm’.
Moreover an organisation that chooses to make a declaration of compliance with PAS 7 and be externally audited and certificated in accordance with PAS 7 will ensure that an ‘enhanced’ standard of management can be sustained both practically and economically over time and this will offer a greater level of confidence when designing and approving solutions reliant on a management component.
A large number of projects now include some element of deviation from prescriptive, code-based solutions, and the ‘Fire Safety Engineering approach’ offered within the BS 7974 series may on occasions be the only practical way to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety in some large and complex buildings.
Fire Engineered solutions that rely on the maintenance of a fire risk management system in lieu of physical fire precautions are much more robust if that system is independently audited and subject to third party certification. PD 7974 acknowledges this when referring to a management system level M1 when stating that ‘the system and procedures are subject to independent certification, including regular audit’.
Health Technical Memorandum 05-01: Managing healthcare fire safety states in section 5.21 “Users of this Health Technical Memorandum are advised to consider the benefit of third-party certification of conformity with PAS 7 (2013). Appropriate conformity attestation arrangements are described in BS EN ISO/IEC 17021”.
A Fire engineered solution that utilises enhanced management as a component of the solution in order to satisfy legislation may require a management solution tailored specifically to the design of a building.
Thus if management is to be used as a means of mitigating risk then a credible means of measuring management can be achieved by implementing a PAS 7:2013 Fire Risk Management System and adopting the management risk mitigation component into the organisations system procedures to be maintained, audited, and ‘where possible’ continually improved over time.
It is important that those involved in either designing or approving a package of fire safety measures appreciate what constitutes an adequate or enhanced management system and the differences between them. The management system level can of course fluctuate from time to time dependent on the organisation’s management system and an enhanced management system cannot provide a 100% guarantee of compliance with legislation in perpetuity.
Certification is not in itself a panacea, however it is a giant leap forward for the fire risk management of our built environment. An organisation may during the risk assessment programme identify a risk that requires risk treatment within a specific period of time or risk acceptance and subsequently risk communication.
In this instance an organisation with a robust fire risk management may chose to mitigate the identified risk on the grounds of an independently verified, enhanced management system.
Fire Risk Management system certification schemes will place no emphasis on management system levels because their focus will be solely on satisfying the requirements of the standard. In satisfying the requirements of the standard, the organisation will need to adopt a system appropriate to the context of the organisation and the hazards and risks they are managing and therefore it is effectively a self-levelling process.
Formalising a fire risk management system and being regularly audited is in itself a fairly robust process beyond the acceptable norm. When considering a ‘fire engineered’ solution with a management component comprising of enhanced management, an approving authority may consider a management system accredited by a third party certification body to be the only true means of ensuring a robust solution compliant with legislation.
There exists a real opportunity to improve BS 9999 and realize the aspirations of those who drafted the 1st edition in 2008, if we review sections 4 and 9 of this document in light of past two years of work undertaken on PAS 7.
I am optimistic that the BSI committee, FSH 14 will grasp this opportunity when the document comes under review.

Fire Protection of Thatched Roofs.

Here’s some useful info about protecting thatched roofs. You get an idea of the costs as well.
In association with Enviroboards, specialist in passive fire protection, Thatch Protect are pleased to introduce its range of Fire protection materials specifically designed for Thatch Properties.
All fully compliant with Building Regulations and “The Dorset Model” (New Properties and Extensions). Tested to British and European Standards we are able to offer our range at competitive prices. In addition Thatch Protect are happy to offer independent advice to Builders, Architects and Property Owners relating to current Building Regulations, technical advice for new build and extensions, re-thatching and U-Values for thatch.
Thatch Flexi (1 Hour Resistance) 1.27m x 50m covering 61 Sqm Tested to BS 476 part 3, 6, 7, 20 and 21 £339.00 per roll + delivery and VAT
Thatch Barrier Board (1 Hour Resistance) Tested to BS EN 13501, 1182, BS 476 Part 3, 22 Thatch Barrier Board offers a U-Value of 0.18 when installed with a standard 350mm of thatch. 1220 x 2440 x 8mm (4×8 feet) £19.50 per sheet + delivery and VAT
Thatch Insulation Batts: Non Combustible, superior thermal and acoustic insulation, improves U-Value performance.
High Density 80Kg m3 1200 x 400 x 50mm – Pack of 6 slabs (2.88 sqm) £14.95 per pack + delivery and VAT.
Should you require any further information or would like to receive a sample pack please feel free to contact me, alternatively please visit www.thatchprotect.co.uk or go to the link below.
Thatch Protect Ltd
08455 20 30 44

LWF – High Ceiling Clearance – Sprinkler Solutions

High Ceiling Clearance – Sprinkler Solutions. 7/11/13

In last week’s blog article, we looked at the challenges of incorporating fire sprinkler protection into fire safe building designs with high ceiling clearance space. In part two, we take a look at the published guidance and building codes relating to buildings with high ceiling clearance and put forward some suggestions as to solutions that could be employed.

Guidance applicable to high ceiling clearance

Fire guidance and national building codes within Europe, which relate to high ceiling clearance spaces requiring sprinkler protection, are very limited.

The installation of sprinkler systems normally follows the ‘Loss Prevention Council (LPC) Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations’ which is also referred to as BS EN 12845:2004+A2:2009. This publication, however, does not cover the recommendation and methods to be adopted in respects of sprinkler design within high ceiling clearance facilities.

The only guidance which contains a comprehensive description of fire safety techniques applicable where sprinkler protection is required within a building which includes high ceiling clearance facilities is BS9999.

BS9999 recommends that the uses of the atrium base should be limited by controlling the fire loads. In some atrium designs, combustible contents within the atrium base are not permitted. This will depend on the provision of the smoke control system to protect the atrium space, which does not have sprinklers.

In order to control fire loads at the base of atrium, BS9999 recommends to limit the combustibles loadings to isolated islands (package fire loads) as follows:

• Each island should:
Contain a maximum of 160kg combustible material
Not exceed a maximum floor area of 10m2
Be separated from other areas of combustible materials by at least 4m
• All wall and ceiling linings should have at least a class 1 surface spread of flame when tested in accordance with BS476-7
• All upholstered furniture should resist ignition by the smouldering (ignition source 0) and the flaming (ignition source 5) when tested in accordance with BS5852
• All textiles (drapes and curtains) should meet the requirements of BS5867-2

Potential solutions

One of the most common ‘solutions’ to this issue is the restriction of use of the high ceiling clearance area. However, restricted use of such space would significantly impact on the economy beneficial to the building owner.

A way to overcome the problem, without restricting the use of space, could be the use of an effective means of fire suppression protection.

One solution includes giving consideration to the effective detection and control at a closer locality to the fire source. Studies of existing situations, and experiments carried out by research bodies, have shown that one of the most favourable solutions to the problem is to install sprinklers around the perimeter of the high clearance ceiling facilities with an extended horizontal throw, actuated by beam detection covering the affected area.

The beam detection can be installed at a lower level – closer to the fire source -providing a shorter detection time. Eventually, the condition of the affected areas in terms of fire spread will be greatly improved as the sprinkler systems will act in the insipient state of the fire, due to fast detection.

It is recommended that the beam detector be linked to the convention sprinkler nozzles by a multiple jet control (to operate small groups of sprinkler simultaneously). In the event of a fire, the beam detectors will activate and then send a signal to actuate the sprinklers via a control panel. This can be achieved by means of sending an electric signal to the multiple jet controls. An electrically triggered piston actuator is provided, which, upon receipt of an electric signal, shatters the frangible glass bulb to operate the control.

The proposal above is considered to be suitable for the application of an atrium space; however, it may not be suitable for some others applications, i.e. large public concourse areas, where the long throw nozzles cannot be installed to provide a sufficient length of throw to protect the affected areas.

As each design and building requirements are individual, so are the fire engineering solutions which can be put in place to solve potential issues. The best solution currently available to designers and architects is not set down, as it depends on the specific characteristics of the particular building.

Meanwhile, more guidelines must be published in order to provide an effective fire protection to high level ceilings within buildings and thus enable building users to make full use of such areas.

If you would like to discuss this article any further or would like fire engineering guidance for your project, please contact Peter Gyere at Lawrence Webster Forrest on 020 8668 8663.

LWF are fire engineering and fire risk management consultants with more than twenty years experience in the development of fire engineered technology and the application of fire safety standards including fire engineered techniques.

A small change to the law

Occupiers have previously found themselves needing sprinklers in relatively small warehouse premises in Greater Manchester. The Building (Repeal of Provisions of Local Acts) Regulations 2012 have now repealed Section 65 of the Greater Manchester Act, which required sprinklers to be installed in storage buildings over 3000 m3. This could be of great interest to occupiers of storage facilities in the County.

Changes to the Building Regulations

They’ve gone and reduced the impact of various local acts on the national Building Regs.   Technical guidance in Approved Document B, which covers fire safety, has been amended as part of these changes.   There’s a discussion of the changes here.

This is all about the governments efforts to reduce the burden of “red tape” (i.e. bureaucracy) on companies.  Can’t be bad!

Painting over strips in fire doors

There’s a good discussion of fire door maintenance at this site.  Paint will not stop an intumescent strip from actuating. Paint will, however, harden smoke seals and make them ineffective.  Best advice, not expecting the decorator to understand the difference, is to tell the man with the paint-brush to stay clear of the strips.

A painted intumescent strip is not unacceptable.  A painted smoke seal would need to be replaced though, as there is a risk of smoke spread past the door if a fire occurs.

Sprinklers Save the Day.

Sprinkler saves Veolia recycling centre in Oswestry

A sprinkler system at a recycling plant  saved it from being destroyed by fire.  The blaze broke out at the Veolia recycling centre at Mile Oak Industrial Estate, Oswestry.

A sprinkler system at a recycling plant saved it from being destroyed by fire. The blaze broke out at the Veolia recycling centre at Mile Oak Industrial Estate, Oswestry.   Fire crews were called at about 6.30pm, but within minutes the sprinkler system triggered and prevented the fire from taking hold.   John Griffiths, for Shropshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Fortunately Veolia have a sprinkler and it stopped the fire. It was a godsend. Without it we would have been here a long time.”

 The Manager at Veolia said the system was fitted when the centre opened in 2009.   “To replace that building would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.”  Fire crews from Oswestry, Ellesmere and Shrewsbury ventilated the building and damped down the fire with the help of Veolia staff.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but is not thought to be suspicious.