Fire safety – Carbon Monoxide, Fire Extinguishers

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  • Fire safety – Carbon Monoxide, Fire Extinguishers

What type of fire equipment do I need within my properties?

If you are a landlord you need to consider what type of fire equipment to have on your property. A fire risk assessment should be carried out.

We will list out below some items that might help you: –

Carbon monoxide (commonly known as Co) is a colourless, odorless, tasteless poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. These include gas, oil, wood, and coal. Carbon-based fuels are usually safe to use. When the fuel does not burn, they produce excess co2. This can be poisonous, and it is a killer. When co2 enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to the cells, tissues, and organs.

Unfortunately, you cannot see it, taste it or smell it but co2 can quickly kill without little warning. There are at least 50 people a year that die from co2 poisoning. This is caused by gas or solid fuel appliances. The flues may not be installed correctly. The flues need to be properly maintained as well. It may be that there is poor ventilation. Lower co2 levels do not cause immediate harm. They can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period. However, in extreme cases, paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to co2. Please attached a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm explanatory booklet for landlords – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords

Do I need to take preventative measures?

You must take some form of preventative measures such as the following: –

Ensure that any work is carried out concerning gas appliances in your domestic premises. This must be undertaken by a gas safe registered engineer.

The gas appliances should be serviced regularly. The law is that these need to be carried out with a gas safety certificate and produced every year. Served on the tenants within 30 days and acknowledged by them (see our previous article on this). It is a landlord’s legal duty to carry out an annual gas safety and have the gas appliances maintained.

If you have a wood or coal burning stove fitted make sure that it is fitted by a HETAS installer. Make sure that the chimneys are swept at least twice a year. Make sure that there is enough fresh air in the room. Anything that contains your gas oiled solid fuel appliances for your chimney or flue must have good ventilation.

Make sure that none of your properties have paraffin heaters and cabinet heaters in them.

Is it worth considering putting in a co2 carbon monoxide alarm?

The Health and safety executive recommends it. It is a legal requirement for landlords. They must put an audible carbon monoxide alarm in. They are an important precaution for tenants if there is an escape of co2. You should ensure that any co2 alarm complies with British Standards EN50291. It must carry a British Approval mark such as a kitemark. They should be installed, checked, and serviced in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Tenants can be at risk from co2 poisoning. When they are asleep be aware of the issue. Co2 sensors can let them know there are issues. These must be installed.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

There can be various early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. They can often mimic common ailments. 

They can be confused with food poisoning. Viral inspections. Flu or simple tiredness for example: –

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Pains in the chest
  • Stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Visual problems

 

How would I know if my tenant is at risk from carbon monoxide?

Although carbon monoxide is colourless, odorless, and tasteless. There can be signs that indicate incomplete combustion. This can be recurring such as yellow or orange flames rather than blue. Soot or yellow-brown staining around appliances. Pilot lights are frequently blow out. Increased condensation inside windows.

How do I purchase a co2 alarm?

Most alarms can be purchased from reputable contractors and currently last between 7 and 10 years. Some co2 alarms do not warn when they reach the end of their life. Which means that they might not function or give the impression of protection. You must make a note of these. We would suggest that Kiddle or Fire/Angel co2 alarms have a sensor life for 10 years and a 10-year guarantee. The kiddle sensor alarm also gives a warning when they are in their useful life.

Fire extinguishers

Not all fire extinguishers are the same. They are all different and have different effects depending on the fire. Buying a fire extinguisher is important. Look carefully at what type of fire it could be used on.

Five types of extinguisher used: –

  1. Water
  2. Foam
  3. Dry powder (ABC rated)
  4. Carbon dioxide (co2) and dry water mist

There also are some smaller wet chemical fire extinguishers. 

What are the differences and the strengths and weaknesses of each fire extinguisher?

Water fire extinguishers

These are good for tackling fires including burning paper, wood, and soft furnishing. The water soaks into the materials. It cools them whilst extinguishing the fire. It does not contain any form of harmful chemicals but has a very low firefighting rating. They are normally quite large and heavy to overcome so they do have a lack of firefighting power. Remember the water is an electrolyte and conducts electricity. You must be careful when using these. There may be accidents when they are exposed to power cables. They are free of harm or substances. Water fire extinguishers are especially suitable for households where children have access to an extinguisher. Moreover, it reduces accidental discharge.

Foam fire extinguishers

These types of extinguishers have a smothering film of foam over the fire. It starves it of oxygen and puts it out. The foam penetrates porous materials and cools the fire through evaporation of the water content of the foam. It creates a type of foam carpet on burning liquids like petrol. Suitable for liquids and areas where the main fibers of soft furnishings. It may be used where carpets might be liquefied under the intense heat. Used for electrical equipment as well.

Co2 (carbon dioxide) fire extinguishers

These are pressurized co2 gas and thus leave no residue. The type of extinguisher is suitable for fires including burning liquids. It is also a good solution for dealing with computer equipment. It can deal with electrical appliances. They do not cause damage to electrical items. When using these there is a possibility once smoothing the gas has floated away the fire might re-ignite. This depends on whether the materials are extremely hot or not. It can cause your fingers to freeze to the horn during the deployment of an extinguisher. It is extremely important on how you use them to use the guidelines on the equipment itself. They are not suitable for deep fat fryers.

Powder fire extinguishers

Powder fire extinguishers are suitable for firefighting any form of class A, B, and C fires. A, B, and C fires. These are A. Suitable for paper, wood, and textiles, B. Suitable for thermal liquids, C. Finally, suitable for flammable glasses. The powder does not smoke into materials and does not have a good effect on the cooling of the fire. This can always result in re-igniting. Care must be taken when using such extinguishers to ensure that you do not inhale the powder. They are small and should not be used in confined spaces. These are not allowed in offices. If you do have them in accommodation they now need to be removed.

Water mist extinguishers

Dry water mist extinguishers discharge a jet of mist which wets and cools the surface of the burning item. They are fine mist and partly evaporate when close to a burning surface. It expands because of steam expelling oxygen from the area. Therefore, this starves the fire of oxygen. The water droplets are very light. They do not sink below the surface of the hot burning liquids. Thus, avoiding the explosion reaction of ordinary water extinguishers. They are used where oil is burning or fat. The water mist is safe for fat fryers.

Wet chemical fire extinguishers

Designed for kitchen fires. Usually, involving burning oil and deep fat fryers. The extinguishers come with special long application arms. This allows you to safely layout a cooling layer of foam on top of the burning oil.

Things to consider when tackling a fire?

  • Firstly, don’t attempt to use a fire extinguisher on a fire unless you feel it is safe to do so
  • Secondly, position yourself where you can to get it quickly like the hall
  • Thirdly, buy extinguishers that you can carry easily
  • Don’t position the extinguisher over the heat to fire but do fix them to a wall
  • Lastly, make sure that you have a fire risk assessment carried out. Additionally, please see the previous article relating to this specifically – https://harringtonslettings.co.uk/fire-risk-assessments/
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