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Fire Safety Cabinets

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Over the weekend the element in the main oven of my cooker gave up the ghost. We had a logistical challenge trying to cook the full monty Sunday roast dinner using just the small oven and hob but happily all went well.

I ordered the replacement part from espares a great site that I have used before. They often have cheaper OEM versions and the site includes handy videos showing how to fit common parts.

When I checked the part I found the element pumped out 2500watts and it occurred to me that the cooker was effectively a fireproof cabinet in reverse. Of course the maximum temperature inside is only around 240 deg C way below the 700-1000 degrees generated in a fire but given that the heat is retained for hours on end without raising the exterior skin to dangerous levels it is still pretty impressive although not in the same league as our fireproof flammables storage cabinets.

When choosing a cabinet for storage of flammable substances it’s easy to be confused by the range on offer and particularly what Fireproof actually means. There are three basic cabinet types – Fire Resistant, Flameproof and Fireproof. So what’s the difference?

Fire resistant cabinets are generally compliant with British Standard BS 476. This standard is not based on the fire integrity of the whole cabinet but defines the fire resistant qualities of the materials used in its construction. A fire resistant cabinet to BS470 will be made of materials that will retain their integrity for 30 mins in your average fire at a nominal 750 deg C. Which in plain speak means the materials will not melt or warp. COSHH compliant cabinets for the storage and segregation of hazardous goods – with the exception of flammables – fall into this category but the single skin construction does not prevent the build-up of heat inside the cabinet for any length of time. They are neither guaranteed flameproof or fireproof.

Flame Proof cabinets, often termed flammable(s) storage cabinets, intended specifically for the storage of flammable substances have to comply with the DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002) that specifies design features intended to segregate flammable substances from accidental exposure to flames from work activity or accidental fire and to prevent environmental pollution. The joints between the sides, top and bottom of flammables safety cabinets and bins should be seam welded or at least free from openings or gaps, and should be close rebated against the frame such that there is overlap between the frame and lids /doors in their closed position. In addition flammables storage cabinets must have a liquid tight sump with a volume at least 110% of the largest stored container. Tray like spill shelves are also incorporated. The supports and fastenings must be of a material with a melting point greater than 750 deg C. Again these are more often single skin cabinets that are Fire Resistant and Flameproof but not Fireproof.

Fireproof cabinets not only segregate highly flammable substances (HFS’s) as required by COSHH and DSEAR they also protect the contents from the intense heat of a fire for a defined period. BS EN14470-1 is the applicable standard. The multi skinned and insulated construction prevents the interior cabinet temperature from rising above 180 deg C for a set period defined by the fire rating of the cabinet – i.e. from 15 to 90 minutes. These cabinets also have automatic heat activated self closing safety doors and air ventilation /extraction and are commonly used in laboratories and hazardous process industries to safeguard workers and reduce valuable asset losses in the event of fire. The sophisticated fireproof qualities of BS EN14470-1 cabinets allow users to exceed the 50 litres maximum volume of HFS’s recommended for storage in any workroom.

 

To insure your cash is Safe

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Many businesses, particularly in the retail and leisure sectors, insure against theft out of necessity as having cash on the premises is a magnet for thieves. With savings interest rates and confidence in Banks at all time lows, apparently many householders are also reverting to the old days and stashing any spare cash in the mattress. If they are relying on a general household insurance policy to protect their nest egg they could be disappointed

Insurance is all about risk assessment and the higher the risk generally the more premium you will pay. In addition the insurance companies will be quick to find a get out clause if reasonable precautions are not taken to minimise the risk.  If you have failed to inform them that the risk even exists don’t expect your policy to pay out.

A lockable cash box is OK for small amounts of cash to allow day to day trading or to deposit the odd days shopping float, but larger amounts held overnight should be locked in a safe. It may not be common knowledge but any type of safe won’t do. If you want no quibble insurance cover the safe should be approved by the insurance company as suitable for the amount of cash you wish to secure. I am reminded of one chap who purchased what I would generously describe as a “budget” safe from a very well known retailer to house his daily takings of under £1000. The insurance assessor took one look at the safe and shook his head. The lock mechanism was gravity operated so he just turned the safe onto its top and the door opened with minimal effort.

This is an extreme case as there is a good choice of quality value for money cash safes available like our Sentry cash safes and Burtons excellent Torino and Magnum ranges. Once the cash held exceeds £5000 you may well consider a Eurograde Safe. Eurograde classified safes range from Grade 0 to Grade 6 and are accepted by virtually all major insurance companies as of a build quality and attack resistance to secure cash amounts ranging from £6000 to £150000 depending on the Grade. As a general rule you can multiply the cash amount by 10 to arrive at the amount of non cash valuables the safe can hold.

All of these safes also come with internal bolt down facility as to meet insurance company requirements it is recommended that any safe weighing under 1000kg should be securely bolted to the floor or wall or both. Be you a business or thrifty homeowner looking to upgrade from the mattress, make sure that your safe is fit for purpose and your insurance is adequate to cover your losses if the worst happens.

 

Electrical Fire Safety Week

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The 24th January marked the start of the inaugural Electrical Fire Safety Week a new government initiative aimed at raising awareness of one of the biggest causes of accidental fires in the UK.

The official estimates according to Sir Ken Knight, the government’s chief fire and rescue adviser, suggest that faulty or misused electrical appliances caused over 20,000 fires across the UK in 2007 with accidental electrical fires in the home resulting in 40 deaths and nearly 4,000 casualties. Still mystifies me that in the digital age the best we can muster are 3 year old statistics.

The equivalent statistics for commercial business premises were not included at the launch press conference as the onus appears to be on educating home owners. Clearly a fire in the home can often be devastating and as reported in today’s news sometimes extremely tragic, but a fire in business premises can have equally dire consequences for owners and staff alike.

Premises can be rebuilt, offices refurbished and equipment replaced but a fire does not discriminate and proprietors should stop to think of the consequences of losing the nuts and bolts of the business aka – systems data, accounts records, customer records and order process ledgers that are now not stored in box files but on backup digital media tapes. This data is essential to continue trading and is difficult and in some cases impossible to replace.

For security purposes backup tapes are usually stored in a secure locked cupboard or cabinet on the premises but your bread and butter office storage cabinet will provide little protection if a fire breaks out when the heat generated heads towards four figures Celsius and above.

Question your reliance on data stored on digital media and the implications of a total loss – assuming the fire has also melted your Quad Core server into the bargain. If the answer gives you nightmares then take a look at our range of Digital Media Fireproof Storage Safes. These give you all the benefits of a high security safe for paper, valuables and the like but with added safeguards including fire and magnetic flux protection specifically designed to protect tape drives, CD’s, DVD’s and USB drives.

If you take the position “it will never happen to me” be aware that I recall one business that was lucky not to be burnt to the ground by a single, presumable blind mouse that inexplicably chewed through an electrical cable feeding the one piece of electrical equipment that was running 24/7 – the Server. Ironic when you think of it.

 

Storing Up Trouble

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During the recent cold spell many businesses and domestic consumers, I amongst them, were left without heating oil supplies. In desperation people were forced to find whatever containers they could and trawl the local suppliers for emergency supplies. This was not easy and I for one was forced to introduce some expensive diesel to the tank to get me through. As a consequence domestic and business users were transporting and storing extra quantities of fuel many without knowledge of current safety legislation for flammable substances.

For reference the good news is that for Heating Oils and Diesel, under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) there are no specific legal requirements on the quantity allowed either in workplaces or domestic premises. They are not, from a health and safety point of view, classed as particularly hazardous substances within the context of DSEAR – as their higher flash point means that their vapours will not ignite anywhere near normal room temperatures.

Kerosene and diesel do however constitute an environmental hazard, incurring high clean-up costs if they should leak into a drain, watercourse or the soil. Also if they are caught up in a fire they will contribute to fire intensity and spread so safe containment is essential.

When not in use, containers of flammable liquids needed for current work activities should be kept in sealed containers and stored in suitable fire-resisting cabinets or bins which are also designed to retain spills (110% volume of the largest container stored in it).

The recommended maximum quantity of highly flammable liquids, i.e. with a flash point below the maximum ambient temperature of the workroom, that may be stored in DSEAR type flammable storage cabinets and bins should be no more than 50 litres. For other flammable liquids with a higher flashpoint of up to 55°C no more than 250 litres is recommended.

The amount of petrol that can be kept in a domestic garage or within six metres of a building is a maximum of two ten litre capacity metal containers or two suitable plastic containers with a maximum capacity of five litres each. Under no circumstances should the petrol containers be stored in the home itself.

The design of our standard flammable storage cupboards is intended to provide a physical barrier to delay the involvement of the stored materials in a fire and limit exposure to the flames and hot gases for sufficient time to allow safe evacuation.

If your working practices require internal storage of quantities of highly flammable liquids above the recommended maximums then you are well advised to consider fire proof storage cabinets conforming to the BS EN 14470-1:2004 Standard. Unlike single skin cabinets that segregate from flames but not heat the EN14470 cabinets have stringent design specifications covering the fire resistance of the complete cabinet that prevent the internal temperature from rising above preset limits protecting the contents from fire damage or destruction for up to 90 minutes. Although their use in the UK is not yet a legal requirement under DSEAR legislation for excess storage quantities employers may find installing BS EN14470 cabinets with enhanced fire performance helps in justifying the integrity of their risk assessment as well as protecting valuable assets.

 

Welcome

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After 10 weeks of frenzied behind the scenes activity I am delighted to introduce you to our brand new website The Safety Storage Centre.

No prizes for guessing the raison d’être behind the launch of a website that has a mission statement that reads “The Safety Storage Centre specialise in providing storage solutions to ensure our customers compliance with workplace safety legislation and to protect personnel and secure property and valuable assets from workplace hazards, fire and theft.”

Why now? Well as a company we have been supplying and distributing fire protection and personal safety products for over a decade and The Safety Storage Centre now  joins its sister website The Fire and Safety Centre as an integral branch of The Supply Centre network and thereby expanding our internet e-commerce product portfolio.

The popularity of the specialist range of fire safety storage products available through The Fire and Safety Centre convinced us that we offered Private and Public organisations the right mix of product, price and quality to expand our range to include all types of Safety Storage Solutions. Given the thousands of safety products we currently supply and the thousands of safety storage cabinets, cupboards, chests, boxes, safes, lockers etc, etc, etc, that are required for compliance with the myriad of safety legislation the only solution was a brand new dedicated site that does exactly what it says on the box or in this case the URL!

This blog will keep you in the loop with industry insight, news and independent commentary on what’s happening in the safety storage arena and updates on any changes in legislation that may impact your organisation.

I hope you find the website relevant, accessible and informative and of course you are cordially invited to add comments and raise issues relevant to the cause for the benefit of all our customers.

Barrie

 

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