As people across the country deck their halls for Christmas, Derbyshire Building Control Partnership (DCBP) is urging them to test their smoke alarms and ensure they are correctly positioned to avoid tragedy over the festive season.
Christmas lights which, when combined with flammable materials like tinsel, real and artificial trees all pose an increased fire risk at this time of year. Should tragedy strike however, having a working and properly maintained smoke alarm could give you and your family precious extra minutes to escape safely should a fire occur.
Fire safety is one of the key sections within the Building Regulations. In homes it is recommended that:
- There is one smoke alarm on each storey of the property
- Smoke alarms should be positioned between sleeping spaces and where a fire is likely to start, e.g. kitchens and living rooms
- Smoke alarms should be ceiling mounted
Worryingly, it was found that in *2017/18, 25 per cent of all dwelling fires occurred in properties where a smoke alarm was not fitted resulting in 21 per cent of all dwelling-related fatalities. Fires where a smoke alarm was present but either did not operate or did not raise the alarm accounted for just under a third (32%) of all dwelling fires in the same period.
Neil Johnson, Managing Director of DBCP, explained: “Every new build property must have smoke alarms fitted and as Building Control Surveyors we oversee that and ensure it is done. However, owners of older properties may not have them fitted or may not have tested existing detectors to ensure they are still working.
“It is important that every building has adequate and working smoke alarms particularly at this time of year with the increased fire risk that the festive season brings.”
To minimise the risk of a fire starting this festive season, DBCP advises:
- Check your Christmas tree lights carry the British Safety Standard sign
- Never place your tree or decorations near open flames
- Never attach decorations to lights or heaters
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children
- Avoid leaving a cooker unattended
- Never overload electrical sockets
As well as ensuring your property has fully working smoke alarms this Christmas, DBCP also advises that people have clear escape routes from their property should a fire start.
“Positioning your Christmas tree or a pile of presents in front of an external door may look pretty in the room, but it could also block an essential escape route if fire were to break out,” warned Neil.
He added: “It takes a matter of seconds to test a smoke alarm and give you peace of mind. We work closely with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service which undertakes Safe and Well visits, targeting areas and household at higher risk of fire, advising, fitting smoke alarms and providing additional safety equipment if required – all free of charge. There is never a reason for a property of any type not to have fitted and tested smoke alarms.”
For more information about Safe and Well Visits, visit https://www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/home-fire-safety-check/
To find out more about Building Regulations concerning fire safety in your home or commercial property, please contact us on 0333 880 2000.