Mains-powered alarm which plugs into a light bulb socket [back
This type of alarm is new on the market and retails around £20
under the trade name Fire Angel. The alarm is DIY-installed by removing
a normal bayonet fitting light bulb and inserting the bayonet fitting
on the alarm into the empty socket. The light bulb is then replaced
into an identical socket with a bayonet fitting on the underside of
the smoke alarm.
The alarm is mains powered with a Lithium back up battery. Advantages
in use, particularly for the less able bodied, include an alarm
test, hush and reset feature operated by flicking the light switch
in a set sequence. Possible disadvantages include choice of location
is limited to existing light sockets and certain types of lampshade
limit the effectiveness of the alarm.
Note - As of August 2001 this particular alarm does not conform
to BS 5446 Part 1.
SMOKE ALARM MAINTENANCE [back
Once an alarm is installed you should test and maintain it regularly
to make sure it is working properly. Many fire deaths and injuries
happen each year because a battery was missing or needed replacement.
Once a week
Test each alarm by pressing the test button and holding it until
the alarm sounds.
Once a year
Change the battery in the alarm (unless it is a 10-year alarm or
Twice a year
Carefully open the alarm case (if designed to do so) and gently
vacuum the inside using the soft-brush attachment, to remove dust
from the sensor chamber. If the alarm case doesn't open, vacuum
over the slots to suck out any dust. Never paint over a smoke alarm.
As well as doing normal battery checks, it is best to replace smoke
alarms with completely new units after 10 years. If you previously
fitted just the basic model, this is an opportunity to install longer-life
smoke alarms with more useful features.
UNWANTED ALARM SIGNALS THAT ARE A NUISANCE [back
If an alarm goes off it is only doing its job!. If it keeps going
off it may have been put in an unsuitable place, for example either
in or too near the kitchen where it can be set off by steam or smoke
NEVER become complacent about smoke alarm signals by thinking "it
is just another false alarm" ALWAYS react as though a fire
alarm signal is genuine.
False alarms can also be triggered by summer insects, small amounts
of smoke from open fires in the hearth, candle smoke, or by a build-up
of dust and dirt as a result of poor maintenance.
If the alarm goes off quite often and is a nuisance, please try
moving it somewhere where it will still protect your escape route
but will not be subject to fumes etc that will cause unwanted fire
alarm signals, or, better still replace it with a 'hush button'
Whatever you do, NEVER disconnect or remove the battery or tape
a cover over the smoke alarm to prevent unwanted alarm signals.
Fire & Rescue Service investigations have proved that these actions have
been the last thing that people have done before dying in a fire.
Warning: if your smoke alarm starts to 'beep', you should replace
the battery as soon as possible, there are no excuses. If it is
a 10-year alarm the whole unit will need to be replaced.
TRUE OR FALSE? - common public misconceptions [back
These are common public misconceptions. The answers may give the
opportunity for you to provide fire education
If there's a fire I'll have time to get out
FALSE - Don't rely on it - especially if there's a fire at
night. The smoke and fire gases could overcome you and you may never
even wake up (Carbon Monoxide). A smoke alarm will wake you, giving
you time to react and GET OUT, STAY OUT and GET THE FRS OUT.
I live in rented accommodation so my landlord is responsible
for fitting a smoke alarm.
FALSE - In fact, landlords aren't under any legal obligation
to do so unless the premises have been built since 1992. All homes
built since 1992 (about 1.5 million new homes) are legally required
to be fitted with a basic mains-powered alarm on each floor level.
If you live in rented accommodation ask your landlord to supply
smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm (on moral grounds). Ask
for proof that electrical items provided have been subject to small
appliance testing for electrical safety and that power supply distribution
boards have life protection power cut outs.
Also ensure that heating equipment (gas and electric portable heaters,
boilers etc) has been serviced annually as required and that gas-tight
flues are properly provided and maintained.
If your landlord won't consider the safety of his/her tenants then
move out immediately and report the landlord to your local fire
station as a fire risk.
I smoke, so the smoke alarm will be a nuisance by always going
FALSE - Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke doesn't normally
set off a smoke alarm, but smokers do need to take extra care to
reduce the risk of fire when using and disposing of smoking materials.
CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS! YOU CAN'T SEE IT, TASTE IT, OR SMELL IT [back
What is it?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. It can be given off by appliances
which burn gas, oil, coal or wood if they're not working properly.
This deadly gas can be produced if your appliance is faulty, the
room is not properly ventilated or the chimney/flue is blocked.
What are the danger signs?
· Gas flames that normally burn blue, burning orange
or yellow instead.
· Sooty stains on or just above appliances.
· Coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out.
What should you do?
· Get your appliances checked for safety every year by
a competent engineer (make sure they are CORGI registered if you
have a gas appliance).
· Ensure your home is properly ventilated - never block vents.
· Make sure all chimneys and flues are regularly swept and
· If you're buying a carbon monoxide detector, look out for
one which complies with BS 7860. Never rely entirely on these devices.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Health and Safety Executive
Gas Safety Advice Line
Tel: 0800 300 363
Solid fuel - coal and wood
Solid Fuel Association
Tel: 0800 600 000
Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry
Tel: 01737 373311
If you develop any of the following unexplained symptoms - drowsiness,
headaches, chest pains, giddiness, sickness, diarrhoea and stomach
pains - switch off your appliances and see your doctor at once.