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Topic Title: Half of deaths in fires occurred despite working smoke alarms
Topic Summary: Dave Parry wants a change of subject!
Created On: 22 June 2011 06:53 PM
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 22 June 2011 06:53 PM
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sparkingchip

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The news story came on my radio alarm this morning http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-13851734 so is it that there are not enough alarms being fitted within a property, or is the fact the majority are standalone battery alarms rather than hard wired and interlinked alarms a contributing factor by allowing time for the fire to establish itself before the alarm goes off?

Andy
 22 June 2011 07:12 PM
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potential

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The report claims 40% of the deaths were alcohol related and some others caused by the fire trapping the victim preventing escape.

I often have cause to think fire precautions are treated far too casually by most people.
Personally I think the use of plastic and other synthetic materials has a lot to answer for in the modern home.

for instance a neighbour had his loft insulated with spray-on foam insulation directly under the tiles.
I took home a waste piece of the foam and tested its fire retardant claims.
It did not burst into flames but it did burn over the surface releasing thick, black,choking smoke and this was only from a small piece 2x2x1cm !
It is similarly with sofas and foam-filled seats.
They claim to be fire retardant but omit the fact that they still contribute to a fire and give off black poisonous smoke.
Pictures on TV showing property after a fire often demonstrate only too clearly how black the brickwork is around melted-out double glazed windows.
That smoke will kill very quickly, smoke alarm or not.
 22 June 2011 07:27 PM
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rocknroll

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All organic materials burn under the right circumstances, if your still in the room when the insulation catches fire your dead anyway, most fires start within a room where the biggest hazard is the materials in the room rather than the insulation.

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
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"Oh! The drama of it all."
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"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
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 22 June 2011 09:10 PM
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OMS

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I guess the other key point often overlooked is that most of the background to fire detection and alarm systems in buildings is based on the understanding that the system isn't primarily designed to save the person in the room of fire origin - it is to warn others that escape routes may become blocked due to that fire.

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 22 June 2011 09:16 PM
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sparkingchip

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There is an assumption that if you are in a room on fire you will generally know about it unless drunk, asleep or both.

Andy
 22 June 2011 09:22 PM
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ant1uk

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Originally posted by: sparkingchip
or is the fact the majority are standalone battery alarms rather than hard wired and interlinked alarms


A hardwired alarm works the same as a battery alarm, only difference is you don't need batteries. As long as you replace the batteries when needed and keep the alarm head in good condition it will work fine. you soon know when the batteries get low it soon starts beeping all the time! if someone ignores that it's their problem they know what the gamble is by doing that.

When doing a rewire its a good idea to hard wire in a system as its practical at the time to do it.
 22 June 2011 09:26 PM
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alancapon

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Our Fire & Rescue service carried out an interesting demonstration of water sprinklers for residential use a year and a bit ago. They used two identical properties that were due for demolition, with only one fitted with an automatic sprinkler system. The following news articles give more information:

http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news...fety_issues_1_1796186

http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=39347

http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=39378

Regards,

Alan.
 22 June 2011 09:36 PM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: sparkingchip

There is an assumption that if you are in a room on fire you will generally know about it unless drunk, asleep or both.

Andy


That was my point Andy - based on your theory that people were dying because of insufficient smoke alarms - they are dying usually because of incapacitation rather than a lack of detection

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 22 June 2011 09:45 PM
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sparkingchip

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And there's me thinking it's OK to sacrifice a few to save many.

Andy
 22 June 2011 09:59 PM
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OMS

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That's what most fire strategies are based on - although there is some conflict there with the duty to relevant persons under the RRO

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 22 June 2011 10:12 PM
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sparkingchip

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That and a fast response by a well equipped fire crew with long ladders and working equipment, the failure of which has resulted in a number of deaths over the last few years.

Fast evacuation or stay put? I'd go with run away.

Andy

Edited: 22 June 2011 at 11:10 PM by sparkingchip
 22 June 2011 10:26 PM
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OMS

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Not always practical or desirable Andy - blocks of flats have good compartmentation so stay put is sensible (unless it's your flat of course) - hospitals have good compartmentation and rely on progressive evacuation so moving sideways is much safer for the patients.

Equally, you may need to manage a shutdown of a dangerous process under fire conditions

So there are plenty of examples where staying put rather than running away is the better option

regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 22 June 2011 10:57 PM
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sparkingchip

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Being a simple man I have a inbuilt flee instinct, when I was about seventeen I jumped clearing a hedge, ditch and barbed wire fence, I was accused of lying but the foot prints could still be seen in the grass, it is amazing what you can do when the adrenaline kicks in whilst being chased by bulls.

Thinking straight under duress such as when your home is on fire is not always going to happen.

Anyway there are other factors such as are all the windows locked, or even the front door for that matter, having a front door that can be opened from inside without a key is a good idea. A good all round plan is required.

Andy
 24 June 2011 06:30 PM
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Angram

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If you have a half hour fire resisting door to your room you may well open the door to a smoke filled corridor. Victims tend to gasp with shock and take in a type of smoke far more chocking than a barbecue and they keel over immediately and then never recover.

The other scenario is that, without an alarm, all the oxygen has been consumed by the smouldering fire and opening a door lets in oxygen and causes a minor explosion which takes the victim out that way.

People think they know smoke, but they don't. Building fires are very different. A motor fire in a confined space can choke you very quickly in my experience. Which I survived obviously!

The detector needs to be near the seat of the fire. Not in the next room.
 24 June 2011 06:41 PM
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OMS

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The detector needs to be near the seat of the fire. Not in the next room.


Depends on what you want to achieve - usualy, you only need detection in and around escape routes to warn that they may be becoming blocked.

Sleeping accomodation presents greater risks so you need more detection but principally to warn others of a situation in an adjoining room.

Industrial applications and protection of property are a different ball game.

as an example, I often see detection specified for small offices or meeting rooms accessed off open plan areas.

In terms of life safety, the question is why - if the room is occupied then the occupants know theres a fire - if it's not occupied then what's the problem.

The key is that the outer open plan space has detection because that's the escape route for the people in the inner room. People in the outer room don't need it as they will see/smell a fire (pobably quicker than the detection will).

Alaways worth asking the question "Who are we protecting, and from what"

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 24 June 2011 07:09 PM
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Angram

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Yes, agreed OMS but first seconds of a fire starting are crucial and after that the spread becomes very fast.

It would be good to have someone quickly put out a starting fire with an extinguisher, if there is a detector there, rather than lose the whole building and their employment. Staying alive and employed are different objectives.

Hopefully waste paper baskets catching fire are a thing of the past with no smoking and EMail !

I think you are right that in a home exiting by window (knotted sheets?) and then rescuing children from outside by handy adder is the best option. Alternatively opening a door slightly with your foot against it, and if safe rescuing that way.

Fires can start slowly and consuming the oxygen the first folks know about it can be when it is too late to save the building and likely the business, if it starts in the conference room you describe.
 24 June 2011 07:12 PM
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OMS

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Well I guess that's why we have strategies for life and property protection - they are vastly different approaches.

Sprinkler systems anyone ?

Regards

OMS

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 24 June 2011 07:26 PM
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rocknroll

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Originally posted by: OMS

Well I guess that's why we have strategies for life and property protection - they are vastly different approaches.

Sprinkler systems anyone ?

Regards

OMS


Well these discussions will carry on for years about sprinklers in domestic properties but it always boils down to the fact that the smoke alarm is the most effective.

The main findings of the project are:
. For the majority of scenarios experimentally studied, the addition of residential sprinkler protection proved effective in potentially reducing casualties in the room of fire origin and connected spaces.
. Sprinkler protection was not found to be a complete panacea, slow growing and shielded fires can be a problem.
. Smoke alarms, fitted in the room of fire origin, responded typically in half the time required by sprinklers and well before the conditions had become life threatening.
. Closing the door to the room of fire origin, was found to be effective in keeping tenable conditions in connecting spaces.
. Residential sprinklers are probably cost-effective for residential care homes (old persons, childrens and disabled persons care homes).
. Residential sprinklers are probably cost effective for tall blocks of flats (eleven storeys and above).
. Residential sprinklers are not cost-effective for other dwellings.
. In order for sprinklers to become cost-effective, high risk buildings may be targeted, and justified on a case-by-case basis using the cost-benefit approach developed in this project.
. In order to be cost effective in a broader range of dwellings, installation and maintenance costs must be minimal, and/or trade-offs may be provided to reduce costs by indirect means.
. In general, the cost benefit conclusions from other countries' experiences were the same as this project, i.e. that sprinklers were not cost-effective, unless systems were low-cost or trade-offs could reduce costs.

Of course in builds such as a group of terrace houses build back to back or houses built against a rock face with no rear escape would require sprinklers to be fitted but in general not cost-effective, maybe a political motive as well you would not need firemen as all the sprinkler system does is fill the place with water as they do!!

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------
 24 June 2011 08:42 PM
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aligarjon

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Out of interest, how do you test a sprinkler system without causing lots of damage, i pressume they will sieze up like the rest of us if they aren't used much.

Gary

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 24 June 2011 08:45 PM
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sparkingchip

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The first requirement of a successful sprinkler system is an adequate water supply,in many houses the water main cannot supply water to a electric shower on reliable basis, I am sure many houses would require a new main laid into the property to ensure a sprinkler system would work correctly adding to the cost of installation. Remember large premises have dry risers that the fire brigade can pump water into at high pressure in large quantities.

Andy
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