Common Causes of Fire
January 26, 2009barriehol
Electrical faults and misuse
It’s so easy to forget to check electrical equipment until a fault occurs by which time a fire could result. Regularly check plugs for signs of burning or loose connections and if you are a business have your electrical appliances PAT tested on an annual basis.
- Don’t overload sockets and extension blocks
- Secure trailing electrical leads and keep them away from high foot traffic areas
Carelessly discarded cigarettes, and matches are very common causes of fire. I recall a fire starting in my local Cricket Club caused by someone emptying an ash tray into a waste bin without checking the cigarettes were all extinguished. The fire started at night after everyone had left so it was fortunate the smoke triggered the fire smoke alarm or the Club could have been burnt to the ground.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes in bed
- Use purpose made metal, glass or ceramic ash trays
- Dispose of spent cigarettes and matches safely in fire proof receptacles
- And to be entirely PC if you can – don’t smoke!
Portable gas and electric heaters can be very dangerous if poorly sited or inadequately guarded. Fan and radiant heaters can quickly overheat if covered or obstructed.
- Portable heaters should be sited well away from combustible materials such as curtains or soft furnishing.
- Don’t put anything over, on top of or close to the front of the heater for example trying to dry clothes.
- Make sure any wiring is out of harm’s way.
Your fire place
If you are fortunate to have an open fire you should take precautions to avoid the fire consuming your home. Sparks from an unguarded fire can smolder for hours before breaking into flame.
- Always invest in a fire guard that is of a size adequate to prevent sparks escaping.
- Don’t place combustibles in the hearth.
- Let the fire die well down before retiring to bed.
- Fit a smoke alarm and test that it’s working on a regular basis
Possibly the worst combination of elements – water, electricity, fats, gas and combustibles can be found in any kitchen. Chip pan fires are the commonest fire hazard so be prepared. A fire in an oven – burning the cakes – is easier to contain. Don’t open the door, you can just turn off the heat and leave it to self extinguish but an open fat fire from a pan or grill can spread quickly.
- Buy a fire blanket which can be used to quickly cover and smother a fire. They only cost a few Pounds.
- Again fit a smoke alarm ideally not in the kitchen itself to avoid false alarms, but in the next adjoining room.
- Don’t over fill chip pans with cooking oil and fats – and don’t leave pans unattended.
Keep things tidy
Avoid accumulating rubbish or combustibles such as paper in fire risk areas like boiler rooms or under stairs, particularly in retail businesses where a discarded cigarette could easily start a fire. Keep cleaning chemicals in secure cupboards and dispose of oily rags rather than let them pile up in a corner. There have been cases where the combination of oils and chemicals has caused self combustion.
Buy a 2Kg or 4Kg ABC dry powder fire extinguisher, read the instructions so you know how to use it in an emergency and site it in a readily accessible place. A wall mount bracket is usually included in the pack. You can use dry powder on combustible solids, paper, wood etc, on flammable liquids like petrol, and on flammable gases. You can also use it safely on fires involving electricity.