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.
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.
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.
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.
Misinformation is everywhere. And the subject of fire safety is certainly not immune to a few untruths. There are a few myths surrounding commercial fire safety that we think need to be addressed.
It doesn’t matter how small your business is, you have to adhere to fire regulations to ensure the safety of your staff – regardless of how many you have. As an employer, it is your responsibility to put in place suitable fire safety measures, provide staff with up to date safety information and ensure staff know what to do in case of an emergency. You also need to have regular fire risk assessments conducted. You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has five or more people.
It is extremely important that you regularly test your alarm systems to ensure they are in working order. If an alarm stops working it’s essential to know before a fire breaks out and get it repaired. You also need to ensure you have the correct fire safety equipment and systems for your particular building. Things like clearly marked fire exits, emergency lighting and automatic fire doors also need to be assessed regularly.
Local fire and rescue authorities conduct regular inspections and can issue a range of different fire safety notices depending on what they find. An alteration notice is given if your premises has high risk factors or will have high safety risks if the use of the premises changes. It will recommend alterations that would need to be made. An enforcement notice details a serious risk that is not being managed and gives you a date to rectify the problem. A prohibition notice is issued if the fire and rescue authority deems a fire risk on your premises so great that your premises needs to close, or have restricted access. You are also at risk of a hefty fine or even prison if you fail to adhere to fire safety regulations.
The sprinkler that is closest to the fire will activate but there is no system that makes every other sprinkler on the premises go off too. Only sprinklers that are near the fire activate – sometimes it might just be only one (despite what you may have seen in films and TV!).
It doesn’t matter whether or not you receive a visit from a fire officer or not, all non-domestic premises must adhere to Fire Safety Order 2005. A fire officer could visit at any time and if you are not compliant you could face a fine or even worse, prison sentence.
If you would like help with your commercial fire safety training & fire risk assessments, contact us at Total Fire Services. We can ensure that you as a business owner are adhering to all relevant fire safety regulations.
From destroying valuable data to severely injuring employees, the cost of a workplace fire can be devastating. And yet despite the risks involved, many business owners overlook their fire safety responsibilities in a bid to save time and money. However, whether you’re tempted to cancel a risk assessment or wait a few months before replacing fire safety equipment, your attempts to cut short term costs could cost you thousands in the event of a disaster. In some cases, it could leave your business unable to function. Here are just a few ways you could be financially burnt in the event of a fire:
If any employees suffer from burns, smoke inhalation or any other injuries during a fire on your premises, their absence could cause significant disruption to the running of your business.
Not only will you need to cover the cost of their sick pay, you might also have to pay for replacement staff to cover their absence. If an inspection determines that you were responsible for the fire or sufficient prevention measures were not in place, you may have to pay compensation to your employees.
Even if no one was hurt in the fire, you may experience a decrease in morale when everyone returns to work. Following a fire or accident within the workplace, it’s not uncommon for employees to feel unsafe or upset, particularly if the incident occurred as a result of employer negligence. This could have an impact on productivity and may cause work to pile up and clients to express their dissatisfaction with your service. If the fire led to employee absence, you may have to devote time and money to training replacement workers.
Following a fire in your workplace, the incident is likely to be investigated by health and safety experts and fire safety inspectors. They’ll work to determine the cause of the fire and will assess whether or not sufficient safety measures were in place. If it’s found that you were neglectful and failed to follow government fire safety guidelines, you may face expensive legal costs.
If your premises and contents are damaged in a fire, insurance can help to soften the financial blow. However, the amount of support you’ll get is likely to depend on the cover you selected and the circumstances of the fire. If the incident was your own fault and preventative measures weren’t followed as outlined in your insurance agreement, you may be liable to cover some of the costs yourself.
A fire within your business can cause a lot of destruction in a short space of time. If computers, files and documents are destroyed, you could lose a considerable amount of data which can come with a huge financial cost.If customers’ data is affected, they may lose trust in you. Customer trust can be difficult – and expensive – to win back, so it’s crucial you do everything you can to minimise the risk of fire. To learn more about fire safety within your business, please get in touch with the team at Total Fire Services.
Firefighters have praised a state-of-the-art sprinkler system which helped to suppress a blaze in a flat within a retirement complex.
When the fire broke out shortly before 6am, the sprinkler system detected heat from the blaze and alerted staff to the fire before putting the flames out.
Crews were called to the complex and an elderly man who lived in the flat was escorted to safety by staff.
Fire Engineer Stuart Ruckledge explained: “This incident had the potential to be quite a severe fire which could have led to serious injury. As with any incident such as this, it was extremely distressing for the occupant but thankfully they were unharmed.”
“The consequences could have been far more serious if the smoke alarm and sprinkler system had not been in place.”
The effectiveness of the sprinkler system shows just how much of a difference specialist fire fighting tools can make in the event of an emergency. Not only did the sprinklers help to suppress the fire, along with the fire alarm they also helped to alert staff and encourage a swift evacuation.
When a fire breaks out in a care home or retirement complex, evacuating everyone to safety can understandably be a challenge. With so many elderly residents to consider, it’s vital that those in charge of the complex take extra precautions to keep everyone safe. To find out how to protect those within your care, take a look at our guide on fire safety in care homes and retirement centres.
As the owner of a business, you’re responsible for making sure your premises abide by the fire safety standards set by the government. From carrying out regular risk assessments to getting employees to take part in a fire drill, there are plenty of fire safety measures to take into account. Perhaps one of the most important factors of fire prevention and safety is the installation of potentially life-saving equipment. By ensuring your business is equipped with the following tools you can reduce the likelihood of a fire and protect employees and customers from danger.
Every business must have fire detection systems in place and these must be tested every week to ensure they’re in working order. Some businesses choose to have detection systems that are automatically linked to the fire department so that help is called immediately.
People can understandably become panicked in the event of a fire. Some employees might forget the escape plan they were taught during fire drills and visitors to the building could become lost. For this reason, it’s crucial that you include signs around the building to instruct people to leave through the right exits. Signs must also explain where the assembly point can be found. Exit routes must be clearly marked and signs should be easy for people of any language to understand.
Some fires have an impact on the electricity supply in a building, making the premises dark and difficult to navigate. To keep both employees and visitors safe, emergency lighting is required. An emergency light fitting will include a battery as a backup power source. When the power fails, the emergency light fitting will automatically start using the battery for power.
Every business must have working fire extinguishers to tackle small fires when they occur.
There are different types of fire extinguisher and each one tackles a different type of fire, so it’s important to get the right one for your business.
Fire extinguishers are often misused, whether it’s to prop open a door or spray a colleague as a prank. Using an extinguishers for anything other than a fire can be costly and dangerous, so be sure to remind employees not to misuse them.
Some businesses choose to have automatic sprinkler systems installed so that fires can be quickly extinguished without much intervention from humans. They’re incredibly effective and most fires that occur in businesses with sprinklers are controlled before the fire service even arrives on the scene.
A fire blanket can allow you to smother small fires yourself. The type of fire blanket you’ll need will depend on your business. For example, if you own a restaurant or a business that stores flammable liquids, you’ll need a 1.8m x 1.75m blanket with a special pull tab so it can be opened quickly.
With so many fire safety rules and regulations to take into account, implementing strong fire safety measures can certainly be a little confusing at first. If you want to minimise the risk of fire, here are 5 questions to ask yourself to determine how safe your business is.Have you carried out a thorough risk assessment?
Not only do risk assessments help you to keep your premises safe, they’re also a legal requirement.
When carrying out your fire risk assessment, be sure to identify potential hazards and put measures in place to control them. You must also ensure that everyone in the building is able to escape quickly and safely in the event of a fire. By logging your assessment and taking note of your findings, you’ll have proof that the necessary checks took place.
From fire extinguishers to smoke alarms, there are several pieces of fire safety equipment that every business must have.
You must have a fire detection and warning system. In some cases, you may need different types of detectors. This will depend on the type of building you operate in. You must also have fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers, sprinklers and blankets.
You’ll be expected to carry out regular equipment checks to ensure that:
From not smoking indoors to using kitchen equipment safely, there are plenty of things employees can do to minimise the risk of a fire at work. Make sure all employees understand their responsibilities and do what they can to keep the premises safe.
In the event of an emergency, employees may understandably feel a little panicked and confused. Escaping from the building they spend 40 hours a week in may initially seem like an easy task, but when panic takes over and the pressure is on to get outside, some people freeze up and realise they don’t know what to do.
Carry out regular fire drills and make sure everyone takes it seriously. Log the results of the drill and take note of any issues that arise. Did anyone stop to get their coat? Did anyone pop to the toilet before making their exit? Take note. In the event of a real fire, these actions could prove fatal.
In the event of a fire, any escalators and elevators should not be used. It’s vital that staircases are available and people in the building are able to find them. Although your employees will know where the staircases are, visitors may be unsure. So make sure there are plenty of signs on the premises pointing to escape routes.
Check all escape routes and exits for obstructions and hazards that could slow people down in the event of an emergency. It’s important to keep your premises as clean and tidy as possible at all times.
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]