The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Safety Equipment & Training – Part 10March 8, 2017 12:09 pm
In our recent blog series for those people who work in Facilities Management and have a responsibility for Fire Safety, we have been looking at Fire Safety Equipment and Training considerations. In Part 9, we covered the siting of fire extinguishers within your buildings and the impact that can have on successful ‘fire first aid’. In Part 10, we’re going to talk about the provision of fire blankets and hose reels.
Although people seem to most associate fire blankets with chip pan fires, that is not their only use. A fire blanket is actually made from coated fibreglass and is usually housed in a wall mounted case in an area where it might prove useful if there were a fire. While this can involve smothering an out of control chip pan fire, fire blankets are also commonly used to extinguish fire which has caught onto human clothing. For this reason, in addition to being placed in a kitchen environment, they should also be placed in those areas where people handle highly flammable or dangerous materials, such as laboratories.
Hose reels are the type of fire extinguishing appliance which is commonly seen in larger buildings but rarely interacted with by those people occupying the building. A hose reel comprises a length of rubber hose, normally 30 metres in length, which is connected to a water supply. In most buildings, the water is provided by the water mains, but in the case of some taller buildings, the hoses on upper floors should be provided by a tank and pump system.
BS 5306-1:2006 Code of practice for fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises. Hose reels and foam inlets provides information on flow rates and the flow range of hoses, as well as giving recommendations for conditions such as the size of the tank which would be required. The size of the tank is based upon the flow rate for a duration of 45 minutes. In a building with a tank and pump system, duplicate electric pumps should be used.
While some hoses have automatic valves, others operate a system whereby the user must open a valve before running out the hose. An automatic valve system works when the user rolls out a section of the hose and it is automatically opened so the hose can become operational. The advantage is that the user does not have to manually open the valve themselves, although this does mean that the additional complexity of design can cause more parts which can fail. In the case of manual valve opening, regular maintenance is required to avoid the valve handle becoming stiff and difficult to operate. The use of hose reels has decreased in recent years, with legionnaire risks presenting as well as a concern relating to use by untrained personnel. The adoption of fire hose reels has its place, however, but should be subject to specific considerations.
In Part 11 of this series, we will look at the importance of staff training and how this can impact positively on fire safety in your buildings. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.