Wearing the right gear is an important part of a firefighter’s job because it makes the difference between whether they can rescue people or not. The official name for firefighting gear is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which consists of fire retardant clothing, gloves, boots, helmet, breathing apparatus and a Personal Alert Safety System. (PASS) The paraphanalia is commonly referred to as turnout or bunker gear. But there was a time when firefighters weren’t able to safely enter a burning building because they lacked the appropriate gear, so we’re looking into how PPE has evolved over time.
Originally, firefighters lacked the specialist equipment to be able to enter buildings, with many fires being dealt with outside a structure. There earliest kind of gear was made out of wool because of it being able to shield firefighters against heat and cold. Rubber played an important role as well, with the material being worn over coats to provide another protective layer. Firefighters also wore rubber boots because it kept their feet dry.
The first helmets were made out of leather and an American called Jacobus Turck is credited as creating the original in 1740. The ‘modern’ variation is attributed to Henry Gratacap, who developed his version between 1821 and 1836. The dome-shaped helmet had a front shield and reinforced design. Other variations existed, such as the ‘merryweather’ worn by British firefighters during the Victorian era. This helmet was introduced in 1868, replacing the leather helmet.
After WW2, standards for PPE started to develop. Many organisations carried out performance testing and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), was at the forefront. The committee developed a firefighting jacket with three layers that consisted of a fire resistant outer layer, a middle layer that stopped water from soaking the wearer, and a final layer to protect against heat transfer.
Based on NFPA research, PPE was drastically improved. This culminated in the NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Clothing for Structural Fire Fighting. It specifies “the minimum design, performance, safety, testing and certification requirements for structural fire fighting protective ensembles and ensemble elements that include coats, trousers, coveralls, helmets, gloves, footwear and interface components.”
The act established further protection for a firefighter through requiring all PPE to provide visibility and identification in different conditions. Respiratory and PASS devices were also improved, with the inclusion of masks that protected against harmful gases like carbon monoxide.
Today, PPE contains a mixture of different gear, including triple-layer clothing, breathing apparatus, PASS device and modern communication equipment. Fabrics have been updated and are made out of Kevlar or Nomex.
In terms of emergency services, firefighting is one of the most valuable resources in the world. Firefighters help save lives, so it’s hard to imagine a time when there wasn’t a firefighting service. Firefighting goes all the way back to Ancient Rome, so we’ve decided to chart the service from its earliest days up to the modern era.
The origin of the firefighting service came about after a horrific fire broke out in Rome. This occurred in 6 AD and Emperor Augustus established the first fire brigade known as the Vigiles. The group consisted of ex-slaves who were trained to deal with fires and acted as night watchmen as well. The duties of the Vigiles were divided into different roles, including Unicinarius, Siphonarius and Aquarius.
The Uncinarius carried hooks for the removal of a burning roof, Siphonarius operated water pumps and Aquarius supplied the water via buckets. There were around seven battalions of firefighters, each led by a single chief. The Vigiles employed a number of tools, including axes to chip away walls and let smoke and heat escape.
This method of firefighting is believed to have been carried over to Britain during the Roman invasion. But after they left, firefighting took a step back and fires became a regular occurrence in Britain and Europe.
In 1666, the Great Fire of London changed the way Britain dealt with disasters. Fire insurance was set up by Nicholas Barbon and in order to reduce insurance costs he set up his own fire brigade. Other companies followed his example and the private brigades would only protect client property. Insured buildings were identified with a badge and those that weren’t were left to burn.
Eventually, all the companies merged together to form The London Fire Company Establishment in 1833. James Braidwood became the first Fire Chief, after transfering from the Edinburgh fire brigade. The 1850s saw the introduction of steam-powered machines that increased the quantity of water to be used in a fire.
During the early 1900s, there were between 1400 and 1500 small fire brigades run by local councils in the UK. In 1938 the Auxiliary Fire Service was set up and then succeeded by the National Fire Service in WW2. At this time there was no countrywide standard for firefighting procedures or equipment, though standardisation came into play after the war.
After WW2, local county authorities took over the National Fire Service and The Fire Services Act was introduced in 1948. This resulted in 148 county councils and boroughs running their own brigades. Changes took place in 1986 when some municipal boroughs and county brigades were renamed, becoming independent as a result.
Modern firefighters continue to show their bravery and determination. At Total Fire Services, we believe in safety and our range of services are designed to help your company carry out the best fire safety practices. For more information contact us on 01204 697 990.
Fire extinguishers are an integral part of fire safety and it’s a legal requirement to have them in all premises. Since their introduction, fire extinguishers have saved countless lives. But how did people put out fires before extinguishers were invented? Fire extinguishers have only been around for a couple of centuries, and we’re looking into the history of these vital devices.
The genesis of fire extinguishers can be traced back to 200 BC, when Ctesibius of Alexandria invented a hand operated water pump that was able to disperse fire. The invention replaced the time consuming method of passing water buckets from person to person. Ctesibius’ pump provided the blueprint for other variations of fire safety devices.
During the Middle Ages, a syringe-like contraption called a squirt was used to put out fires. The nozzle was dipped into water to extract a few pints. The squirt then pumped water on to flames. They were used during the Great Fire of London, but weren’t very effective. However, squirts were a precursor to basic firefighting equipment and ‘squirt’ guns.
In 1723, chemist Ambrose Godfrey patented the first fire extinguisher. It contained a mixture of gunpowder and a fire-extinguishing liquid inside a pewter chamber. It had a system of fuses that ignited to explode the gunpowder and release the liquid. British Captain George William Manby developed the modern fire extinguisher in 1818. It housed three gallons of potassium carbonate solution and compressed air.
Other variations were created, such as the soda-acid extinguisher in 1866. Francois Carlier patented this version and it mixed water and sodium bicarbonate with tartaric acid. The chemical foam extinguisher was created by Russian engineer Aleksandr Loran in 1904. He also invented firefighting foam. Loran’s extinguisher contained sodium bicarbonate in water and aluminium sulphate. When released together, the liquids turned into foam and proved to be an effective way of putting out fire.
Further developments were made in the 1924, when the carbon dioxide extinguisher was invented in the US by the Walter Kidde Company. It was made in response to developing an electrically non-conductive chemical for extinguishing fires in telephone switchboards. The carbon dioxide extinguisher consisted of a metal cylinder with a wheel valve and a brass hose covered with cotton.
Fire extinguishers have continued to be updated through the years to comply with the best safety practices. They are an invaluable part of protecting your residence against fire damage. At Total Fire Services, we understand how important it is for businesses to have confidence in the quality of their fire extinguishers. We provide a variety of fire extinguishers that are covered by a 5 year warranty.
For more information contact us today on 01204 697 990.
Fire doors are an important yet often overlook asset to any business. From prevent thousands of pounds worth of damage to saving the lives of tens or even hundreds of people, fire doors can make a tremendous difference during a fire.
Here are just a few things to think about when it comes to using fire doors effectively.
A fire door is more than just a barrier between two rooms, it’s a specially engineered piece of equipment designed to meet a tough set of fire safety criteria.
Fire doors help to break a building into different compartments. This can slow down the speed of a fire and prevent it from spreading through a building as quickly as it would naturally. If a fire door stands between a person and a fire, their chance of survival increases dramatically.
Fire doors also help fire crews determine a plan of action when it comes to rescuing people within the building.
In England and Wales, the law states that if you are an employer, landlord, owner or occupier of business or non-domestic premises, you are responsible for fire safety within that building and you’re considered the ‘responsible person’.
Therefore, if you fall under one of the above categories, it’s your job to ensure fire doors are installed where required and regularly maintained so that they can work effectively.
Yes. Introducing fire doors to your premises isn’t automatically enough to ensure you’re abiding by government legislation. When fire doors are installed, the frame, locks, and latches must be installed correctly and in line with regulations. Failure to follow the necessary guidelines could put lives at risk.
The doors must also have been tested by an independent organisation to ensure they abide by British or European Standards. Fire doors that haven’t been tested in this way might fail to protect people in the event of a fire.
By hiring a specialist fire safety company to install the fire doors for you, you can make sure your money is being put to good use and the fire doors will do exactly what they’re supposed to. In the event of a fire, fire doors could also help to protect the property itself along with any valuables within it.
The slightest changes to your fire doors could significantly impact its performance. For example, if a hinge has become loose, there is a hole in the door, or extremely flammable materials have been placed either side of it, it may fail to work as well as it should.
Once installed, fire doors should be inspected regularly to make sure they’re still functioning effectively. It may be wise to introduce a fire safety door inspection into your existing fire risk assessments. By checking the fire doors at the same time as your asses fire alarms and extinguishers you can keep your premises safe while saving time and money in the process.
If you don’t already have a fire risk assessment in place, it’s crucial that you implement one immediately.
To learn more about fire doors and risk assessments, please get in touch with the team at Total Fire Services.
All new and refurbished schools in the UK should be fitted with sprinklers, fire chiefs say.
It’s currently not essential for schools in England and Northern Ireland to have sprinklers installed, although such safety measures are mandatory in Scotland and Wales.
With more than 700 fires occurring in schools each year, London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton has accused the government of “playing with children’s lives” by failing to introduce stricter sprinkler rules.
At present, the government’s fire safety guidance says that it is the DfE’s “expectation that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted”, unless a school is “low risk” and installation “would not be good value for money.”
However, less than a third of the 260 schools built since 2014 under the Schools Building Programme have sprinklers. Just 5% of all schools in England and Wales have sprinklers.
Ms Cotton said that the London Fire Brigade recommended sprinklers in 184 new or refurbished schools last year, and yet only four of these schools followed the advice.
Fire safety rules for schools were almost relaxed last year, when the DfE in England began a consultation on new draft guidance and proposed making changes that would mean sprinklers in schools were not necessary or expected.
The consultation was dropped after the Grenfell fire and the guidance wasn’t changed.
Talking about the draft guidance, Ms Cotton said: “I think it was outrageous. I thought ‘How can we play with children’s lives like that?’
“I just do not understand why it wouldn’t be made compulsory and wouldn’t be made a requirement to fit sprinklers in schools at new-build stage.
“And what I don’t want to see is a very large school fire to be the thing that brings about that change.”
The DfE says all schools must have a Fire Risk Assessment and new schools should undergo an additional safety check during the design process.
To mark Fire Door Safety Week, from the 25th September to the 1st October, health and safety experts will join forces to spread awareness of the importance of fire doors.
The annual campaign attracts more than 175 supporting organisations and last year it reached more than 9 million people.
Each year the campaign aims to raise awareness of a specific aspect of fire door safety. This year’s initiative will see organisations working together to emphasis the critical role that third-party certified fire doors play in high-rise buildings, houses of multiple occupancy and other types of shared accommodation.
Here’s an overview of the events that are taking place across the country:
Monday 25th September
London Fire Brigade is holding a seminar for those responsible for fire safety in the residential rented housing sector. The seminar will be held at London Fire Brigade’s headquarters and is by invitation only.
On the same day, a free seminar will take place at Intastop’s training centre on Kelham Industrial Estate, Doncaster. The seminar will focus on fire door compartmentation and evacuation methods.
Tuesday 26th September
Arnold Laver will be co-hosting a free CPD accredited fire door safety day alongside BWF-Certifire at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood. Speakers will cover a range of topics including fire door specification, certification and inspection.
Wednesday 27th September
Learn about the issues regarding glazing fire doors at Beverley Racecourse. The event will be held by Hodgson Sealants and speakers include BWF, the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) Exova Warringtonfire and Vetrotech.
Thursday 28th September
The CPD-accredited ‘Are You Fire Door Sure?’ seminar will be held on Thursday at The Building Centre in London. All income generated will be donated to the Children’s Burns Trust. Speakers at the event will include FDIS, London Fire Brigade and the Glass and Glazing Federation.
Here at Total Fire Services, we have extensive experience helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to carry out risk assessments, train employees and embrace preventative tools. Here are just 4 types of business we’ve helped.
Managing a care home can bring with it a very unique set of obstacles. Whether your care home specialises in caring for old people or those who are vulnerable through illness or disability, it’s crucial that you have a thorough fire safety plan in place.
We have extensive experience working with care homes to ensure that risks are reduced and residents are kept safe. From carrying out an in depth fire risk assessment to training your staff so they know what to do in the event of an emergency, we’ll help you every step of the way.
As a landlord you have a responsibility to minimise the risk of fire and ensure your tenants are safe in their homes. Not only could failure to abide by government fire safety regulations see you facing fines or imprisonment, it could also put your tenants’ lives at risk.
With our help you can determine how safe your premises are and implement the correct fire safety measures. From inspecting the furniture you provide to checking you have working fire alarms, we won’t leave any stone unturned.
Implementing effective fire safety policies within an office environment can be a challenge, especially if you work in a building with a complex layout or lots of open space.
It’s our job to ensure your premises are safe. We’ll help you implement an effective evacuation plan and carry out regular fire drills. We’ll also inspect your premises to ensure escape routes are clear, combustible materials don’t post a risk, and fires can be contained in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Retailers are faced with a whole host of challenges when it comes to meeting fire safety requirements. Not only will individual stores be expected to abide by certain rules, units located in a shopping centre may need to be involved in a wider fire prevention strategy.
Here at Total Fire Services, we know fire safety like the back of our hands. We’ll visit your premises and look at everything from the storage of your goods to your customer evacuation plan. If we spot anything that could be improved, we’ll point you in the right direction and help you raise fire safety standards across the store.
To find out how we can help you implement an effective fire safety plan and keep people safe, please get in touch with the team at Total Fire Services.
In an interview with Chris Choi, Total Fire Services’ Managing Director, Darren Baird, speaks to ITV News about the ‘Stay Put’ advice following the Grenfell Tower fire.
View Darren’s interview in the video clip below, or on our YouTube channel here.
As a business owner, there are several precautions you must take to keep the risk of fire to a minimum and ensure both employees and customers are safe. If the wealth of legal requirements is leaving you feeling overwhelmed, the Total Fire Services team may be able to help. We offer a selection of services designed to take much of the work off your hands while also ensuring your business is compliant with government safety guidelines. Read on to learn how we can help you:
A risk assessment is one of the first steps to protect employees and customers from fire. We can help you carry out a comprehensive and detail fire risk assessment. We’ll identify potential risks within your company before prioritising each one and outlining the steps that need to be taken in order to reduce risk and comply with legal requirements.
We have a wealth of fire safety training courses to help your team to minimise the likelihood of a fire. We’ll also teach your staff how to handle an emergency in the unlikely event that one does arise. Whether you’d like to learn online or in person, we offer a wealth of flexible packages that can be tailored to your business.
We run a thorough servicing and maintenance service to ensure that fire extinguishers are in correct working order at all times. Not only can this help you abide by government regulations, it can also save lives in the event of a fire. In fact, according to a survey by the Fire Extinguisher Trades Association, of 2,173 recorded fire safety incidents in a year, more than 80% were controlled with the help of a fire extinguisher. Extinguishers prevent approximately 2,000 injuries annually.
Here at Total Fire Services, we can provide you with the products you need to ensure your premises remain legally compliant. From reliable and robust fire alarm systems to emergency lighting to guide people to safety, we have a variety of solutions to make your premises safer.
To learn more about the fire safety services we offer, please get in touch with the team at Total Fire Services.
Office fires can have a devastating impact on business. Not only can a fire cause thousands of pounds worth of damage and halt business operations, in really serious cases, it could cause injury and even death. To minimise the risk of fire in your workplace, it’s vital you take the necessary precautions to avoid fire safety hazards. Here are 3 of the most common:
Over time, the casing that covers electrical wire can become damaged and worn, exposing the wire inside. Not only can this carry the risk of an electric shock, it could result in sparks that set fire to flammable materials nearby.
With a whole host of electrical equipment in your office including computers, monitors, printers, lamps and kettles, it’s crucial that you remove items with damaged power cords immediately. If the cable on one device was to become damaged and catch fire, it could cause a path of destruction by setting fire to other electrical devices.
Extension leads can be found in most office workplaces and are often considered a vital tool to equip all workers with the devices they need. However, although there may be enough sockets for four appliances, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to use them all.
Overloading an extension lead with too many devices could cause a fire, resulting in thousands of pounds of damage and endangering employees in the process.
To minimise the risk, only use one extension lead per wall socket and never plug one extension lead into another. If your business relies heavily on extension leads and adaptors, recruit a registered electrician to install new wall sockets.
In the event of a fire, it’s crucial that everyone in the building can escape quickly and safely. To keep people safe, ensure walkways and exits are free from obstructions that could slow people down. Emphasise the importance of keeping the place clean and tidy so your employees are informed of the potential dangers. By encouraging staff members to remove or report obstructions, you can increase the likelihood that risks are resolved quickly and effectively.
What they say
"Due to internal resource issues we at Chessington World Of Adventures were struggling to meet our commitments of having "suitable and sufficient" fire risk assessment for all of our buildings and Rides on site. Meeting the challenge of maintaining our continued commitment to having "suitable and sufficient" fire risk assessments in place for all of our buildings and Rides on site required us to search for a competent third party supplier who could deliver our needs at a reasonable cost"
Kevin Bainbridge, Head of Safety & Technical Services[mc4wp_form]