Community Safety

Promoting your safer community with Saffire (UK)

Electrical Safety


Home Office statistics inform us that in 1995 the fire service in the United Kingdom attended approximately 65,000 fires in the home, this represents 32% of total fires. In these fires there were 808 people who died and approximately 13,000 who were casualties. Of those fires in the home 13,500 were considered to be malicious.

Saffire (UK) aims to provide general education in fire safety to the whole community. This section endeavours to use the internet to highlight particular fire safety issues within the home.

The main focus is to increase the awareness of the public in fire safety matters. Many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented if people were aware of safety from fire, had early warning and were able to get out in time. The buying and fitting of a smoke alarm in your home could help to save your own and your family's life as well as closing all doors at night to prevent smoke spread.



What is a smoke alarm?

Smoke alarms are self-contained devices that incorporate a means of detecting a fire (smoke detector) and giving a warning (alarm). They are about the size of a hand and are normally fitted to the ceiling. They can detect fires in their earliest stages and sound a loud warning alarm. This alarm can give you those precious few minutes for you and your family to get out safely.

There are two types of smoke alarm currently on the market - ionisation and optical.

Ionisation: These are the cheapest and can cost from under 5. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke produced by flaming fires, such as chip pans, and will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick. They are marginally less sensitive to slow burning and smouldering fires which give off larger quantities of smoke before flaming occurs.

Optical: These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as smouldering foam-filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring. They are marginally less sensitive to free burning flaming fires.

Each type looks similar and is powered either by a battery, or mains electricity (or a combination of both). Some are interconnectable so that any smoke detected at one point can raise the alarm at all others. Some have additional facilities, such as emergency lights and silence buttons, for use where false alarms can be a nuisance e.g. when cooking.

Why do I need a smoke alarm?

You will not smell the smoke of a fire when you are asleep. The poisonous gases, which are present in the smoke, will put you into a deeper sleep. During a fire, the smoke alarm will sound and give you the time you need to escape. A working smoke alarm cuts your risk of dying in a residential fire in half.

What should I do?

A smoke alarm can give you those precious few minutes of warning, which could help you and your family to get out safely. They are quite reasonably priced and may be purchased from most DIY stores. However, the battery smoke alarm should have achieved a standard acceptable to the British Standards Institution (BSI).

Smoke alarms should meet the current British Standards and should carry the well-known Kitemark

Follow the manufacturers instructions on how to fit and position the alarm. The instructions will also give you guidance on battery replacement and maintenance. If you have difficulties, local voluntary organisations may be able to make arrangements to have the alarm fitted for you.

Smoke alarms for people with hearing impairment

Many people whose hearing is not severely impaired are still able to hear a conventional smoke alarm. It is a good idea to link two or more alarms. This way smoke detected in the living room will set off another alarm in the bedroom. An electrician will be able to advise you about linking the alarms.

For people who would not be able to hear a conventional smoke alarm there are special devices available which make use of a vibrating pad or flashing light instead of the auditory signal - the vibrating pad alarms are particularly useful for deaf-blind people.

How many and what type should I fit?

If you live in a flat or bungalow one smoke alarm should be enough to provide you with early warning of fire. If your home has more than one floor, an alarm should be fitted on each floor.

Smoke alarms substantially reduce the risk of dying in a fire. There are many different types, all designed to be used in different places.

Some can be tested by a torch instead of pressing a button.
Some come complete with batteries that last for ten years.
Some can be linked together so if one goes off, they all go off. This is invaluable if you live in a large house.
Some are specially designed so that they can be sited in or near kitchens.

Where should I fit smoke alarms?

If your home is on one level you should fit the alarm in the hallway between the living and sleeping areas. If your home has more than one floor, one alarm should be fitted at the bottom of the stairs with an alarm on each upstairs landing.

The alarms should normally be fitted to the ceiling and not in a position of personal danger when you come to change the battery e.g. over a staircase or other opening.

For additional protection you can fit alarms in any room where you think a fire might start e.g. lounge or sitting room. In some cases the smoke alarms be able to be linked together to provide a better sound coverage. But be sure that when they are fitted that they can be heard at night particularly when you are in bed and asleep.

(As fumes or steam from these locations may cause false alarms)

How do I maintain the protection?

  • Smoke alarms need very little maintenance. A few minutes a year should ensure that your alarm is working and could help to save you and your family.
  • Once a month - Press the test button to check the sound (there may be a little delay in the button operating)
  • Once a year - Change the battery in the alarm and make a note of the change (perhaps use a personal memorable date to change the battery)
  • Once a year - Vacuum the inside of the smoke alarm to ensure that dust is not causing a blockage

Be safe not sorry

If you want any more information or advice you should contact your local fire brigade or 'E' mail us at


Take care with Electricity.

Electrical appliances and their leads cause 10,000 fires a year in people's homes Look for danger signs

  • Remove plugs, which are not being used at night
  • Avoid build up of heat within electrical items such as TV's, video recorders, computers etc by ensuring that any ventilation slots are kept free from obstruction.
  • Do not join together cables - have a longer cable fitted
  • If you are worried about your wiring you can ask your electricity company to check your installation.

Be aware of the danger signs:

Hot plugs or sockets.
Fuses or circuit breakers that blow for no apparent reason.
Lights flickering.
Brown scorch marks on plugs and sockets.

Regular checks of the wiring inside your home should help prevent these danger signs occurring.

This information is intended for GUIDANCE ONLY

Learn the correct wiring colours

Green / Yellow Wire to Earth Terminal
Blue Wire to Neutral Terminal
Brown Wire to Live Terminal

The correct fuse is vital to your safety

Always use the correct fuse for the equipment you are using. Fuses should conform to British Standard 1362.


Fuse Maximum Wattage Typical Appliance
3 Amp(Red) 690 w Television, Video recorders, sewing machines.
5 Amp
1150 w Fridges, 1 kw (1 bar) Fires, Irons, Toasters, Vacuum Cleaners, Drills, Hairdryers.
13 Amp
3000 w Washing Machines, Kettles, Jugs, Dishwashers, 3 kw (3 bar) Fires, Deep Fat Fryers.

The wattage (w) of any electrical appliance is marked on the rating plate

a. ALWAYS follow the manufacturers instructions regarding the use and maintenance of equipment.
b. If in doubt consult a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN.

Working with electricity

Before starting any electrical work ALWAYS switch off at the mains supply (Consumer Unit), as a further precaution remove the fuse of the circuit concerned or switch off appropriate circuit breaker (if fitted).

REMEMBER - "One appliance, one socket" is safest

Extension Cables

If you use an extension cable, all the wire must be pulled out to prevent the electric cable from overheating inside the drum.

Working in the garden or outside

Always use a residual circuit device when using any electrical appliance outside. These devices are designed to fuse quickly, before you are injured.

Electricity can kill - so beware!



Safety at home


  • More than 90% of accidental fires never come to the attention of the fire service
  • During 1998 around 71,000 'home' fires were reported to the fire service.
  • Around 500 people died in a fire in their home during 1998.

If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival will depend on how quickly and safely you are able to get out. This web page aims to give you advice on how to prevent a fire, and how to protect yourself should one occur.

Almost all fires in the home can be prevented. Here are some fire safety tips, which could help prevent a fire from starting in your home. How to stop a fire starting in your home

How to stop a fire starting in your home

Chip pans/Deep fat fryers

These are one of the most common causes of fire in the home but if you follow some simple guidelines you'll keep your kitchen safe. Before putting food in the pan dry the food, and test the temperature of the oil by putting in a small piece of bread. If the bread crisps up quickly the oil is ready.


  • Never fill a pan more than one-third full of fat or oil
  • Never leave the pan unattended when the heat is switched on
  • Never put the food in the pan if the oil begins to give off smoke. Turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool otherwise it could catch fire.

If the pan does catch fire:

  • Do not move it
  • Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, but never lean over the pan to reach the cooker controls.
  • Cover the pan with a fire blanket or damp cloth and leave it to cool for at least 30 minutes never throw water onto the fire.


If you are in any doubt about whether to try to put out a chip pan fire yourself then don't - leave the room, close the door and call the fire brigade

Open fires or Portable heaters

  • Open fires are a constant source of danger and safeguards should be taken to ensure that accidents do not happen. All open fire should always have a fireguard round it.
  • Never have mirrors or frequently used items over an open fire q Never remain closer than three feet to a heater.
  • Do not place a heater near clothes or furnishings.
  • Do not rest clothes or place newspapers on the guard.

Smoker's materials

Smoking materials still cause a large number of fires. You should always be vigilant about what happens to them, especially when they are discarded.

  • Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended - it may fall onto an armchair or carpet, which will soon catch fire and start to give off dense smoke and fumes.
  • Always keep matches and lighters well out of reach of children.
  • Never smoke in a chair if you think you may doze off in it.

Bedtime routine

Many fires in the home start at night. This is a time when all family members are asleep and not fully aware. Make sure you have a smoke alarm and a bedtime fire safety routine to help you and your family safe. Here are a few simple things you should do every night:

  • Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on e.g. refrigerators.
  • Make sure no cigarettes or pipes are still burning. q Before emptying ashtrays make sure the contents are cold.
  • Make sure all open fire are out and are guarded q Switch off portable heaters
  • Close the doors of all rooms.
  • Never smoke in bed



Install a smoke alarm



Fire Action Plan


Planning your escape route

If a fire occurs in your home you may have to get out in dark and difficult conditions. Escaping from a fire will be a lot easier it you have already planned out your escape route and know where to go.

Make sure that your planned escape route remains free of any obstructions and that there are no loose floor coverings that could trip you. Everyone in the house should be made aware of the escape route.

If you have serious mobility difficulties you may wish to consider having your bedroom on the ground floor, if this is practical, and as near as possible to an exit. If you would need assistance to make your escape, it is vital that you have some means of summoning help by your bed, i.e. a buzzer, intercom or telephone.

There are also systems available that will automatically dial out on your telephone line to summon help or send a signal to a manned control room. Details of the many emergency call/alarm systems available can be obtained from the Disabled Living Foundation who produce a booklet on the subject

Fire safety drill

Escaping from a fire will be a lot easier it you have already decided and practiced your safety drill and know where to go. Here are a few pointers to set you in the right direction.

  • 1. Plan your escape route from every room.
  • 2. Close the door to help stop the smoke spreading into the room.
  • 3. How are you going to leave your home?
  • 4. Where is there a telephone - outside your home e.g. neighbour, public telephone?
  • 5. Plan what to do if you are cut off by fire or smoke, it's not easy, but remain calm.
  • 6. Go to the window - if the room is smoky crawl, it's easier to breathe nearer the floor because the smoke rises upwards.
  • 7. Attract attention of your neighbour or a passer by.

Practice your family "fire safety drill" at regular intervals, ensure that every member of your family knows all their possible exits and that they know how to call the fire brigade and in an emergency, everyone should

What to do if a fire starts

We all try to prevent fire starting in our home. But it only takes an unguarded or careless moment for a fire to start. A couple of minutes later and your home could be filled with smoke. Smoke and fumes can kill - particularly the highly poisonous smoke from some furnishings

You will only have a short time to get out.

Use it wisely and try not to panic.

Before opening a closed door use the back of your hand to touch it. Don't open it if it feels warm - the fire will be on the other side.

If possible close the door of the room where the fire is and close all doors behind you as you leave, this will help delay the spread of fire and smoke.

Get everyone out as quickly as possible. Don't try to pick up valuables or possessions. Make your way out as safely as you can and try not to panic. It will help if you have your planned escape route rather than waiting until there is a fire.

Telephone the fire brigade on 999 or 112 from a neighbour's house or a telephone box.

Clearly state the address of the fire.

Never go back into the house until a fire officer has told you it is safe to do so.

The majority of 'home' fires are preventable


Prevention is better than cure.

If you are cut off by the fire

Try to remain calm

  • If you are unable to use the door because of flames or smoke, close the door and use towels or sheets to block any gaps. This will help stop smoke spreading into the room.
  • Try to make your way to the window. q If the room becomes smoky, crawl along the floor where it's easier to breathe because smoke rises.
  • Open the window and try to attract the attention of others who can alert the fire brigade. Wait for the fire brigade to arrive.
  • The fire brigade should arrive in a matter of minutes.
  • If you are in immediate danger and your room is not too high from the ground, drop cushions or bedding to the ground below to break your fall from the window. If you can, get out feet first and lower yourself to the full length of your arms before dropping.



For further information, help and advice

Your local fire brigade officer or Saffire (UK) will be happy to advise you on fire prevention and safety.