No one wants to experience a fire in their home, but often ensuring your property is safe gets put on the back-burner when it comes to priorities. Many people will only check their fire alarm once a year, if that, and often the first time they are warned of a problem is when the batteries start to bleep!

You will find it does come into the conversation though when you begin looking at adding a loft conversion to your property, start building a new house over numerous storeys, or look at making your living space open plan. This is because building regulations are particularly tight on modern properties to ensure the risk of you experiencing a serious fire is significantly reduced. You will need to consider a fire sprinkler system such as Automist®, which will help your plans pass Building Control.

How do house fires start?

According to UK Government statistics, drawn up from a compilation of data for dwelling fires attended by the national fire service, there are nine key ways in which residential fires will begin. These are:

  • Deliberate
  • Faulty fuel supplies
  • Faulty appliances and leads
  • Misuse of equipment or appliances
  • Chip/fat pan fires
  • Playing with fire
  • Careless handling of fire or hot substances
  • Placing articles too close to heat
  • Other accidental reasons

You might think ‘that will never happen to my family’ – but how many times have you started cooking dinner only to find yourself distracted by your child having a tantrum in another room? Or walk out your front door only to think ‘did I turn my hair straighteners off’ or ‘is my oven still on?’. Then there are the candles you have no doubt lit on a winter’s evening, before falling asleep on the sofa in front of the TV (which may or may not be faulty, as this is rarely tested). We are constantly surrounded by fire hazards – and while we shouldn’t live our lives panicking about such potential risks all the time, it is certainly important to be aware of them.

Accidents can and will happen, but the most important thing is whether or not we can escape from them unharmed.

It is also why building regulations are so strict when it comes to fire safety for open plan properties, houses over multiple storeys, and loft conversions. Accidents can and will happen, but the most important thing is whether or not we can escape from them unharmed. The biggest issue for Building Control is when escape routes are compromised, and therefore they will expect that you have access to a safe escape route at all times to easily exit your property.

 

how do house fires start

 

How can you prevent house fires from spreading?

In the UK alone there are over 300,000 dwelling fires with 60% of these starting in the kitchen. There are many public and private sector fire safety campaigns released each year, but often protecting homes against fires isn’t something that gets addressed in the home until it is too late. It is of particular concern in homes where the elderly are living, student housing, flats with shared living, and sheltered accommodation. Research by the government has found that socially deprived households are 31 times more likely to experience fires compared with households in general.

This is where Automist® comes into the equation. Installed by Intelligent Mist into your home, either as a retrofit or as a new installation, this smart water sprinkler system offers modern and elegant fire protection for your home beyond simply alerting you to a fire. Whether you’re physically able or not, it will ensure you and your family are safe and protected, and will also help your property get signed off with building regulations if needed. This means all your worldly belongings will remain protected too, including precious family photos and keepsakes.

A stylish approach to keeping your home safe.

Once activated, the Automist® device will perform a smart scan of the room it is situated in using an infrared sensor. After locating a fire it will ensure it has a reliable fix on the area of concern before taking aim, directing water mist through its high-pressure pump. It can last continuously up to 30 minutes, enabling you chance to escape and ensuring the fire has a high chance of being extinguished. Automist® uses approximately 10% of the water typically used by a traditional sprinkler system, meaning there is much less risk of consequential water damage. It can also help add value to your home, meaning you’re not only safer but also more financially prosperous too.

Given that it’s one of the most common causes of fire, you might be wondering ‘can you use Automist® on a chip pan fire?’. The answer is yes. High-pressure water mist can be highly effective for protecting your property against deep fat fryer fires and are considered a great way of extinguishing the problem in a clean way. Although you wouldn’t normally use water to extinguish an oil fire, given that the water would sink below the oil and boil, thanks to the water mist produced by Automist® being such fine droplets, it can be carried by thermal air currents. This means the water mist is drawn into the flame, thus suppressing the fire quickly and easily. For vulnerable people who may be at risk of forgetting about kitchen appliances being on, this can in many cases be a life-saver. Quite literally.

 

open plan living

Photo by Aaron Huber

 

How can you prevent house fires from happening?

Here are 20 easy ways to prevent a house fire:

  1. Check throughout your property for electrical cords that may be fraying or that look like they need maintenance.
  2. Don’t overload your electrical circuits or electrical plugs. Be aware of your home’s electrical system and what it is capable of.
  3. Never leave any pots or pans unattended on your stove, and ensure you don’t hang any towels or clothes on, or above, the hob or burner as they may fall on the flame or hot surface.
  4. Keep your oven, stove and microwave clean. Any built-up food or grease can become ignition when you are cooking and lead to fires beginning.
  5. Clean the dryer vent out regularly in your washing machine, and clean the lint filter after each load. Make sure you also clean underneath and behind your dryer as lint can collect here.
  6. Do not leave any candles or naked flames burning unattended, close to curtains or soft furnishings, or in a place where they could be further ignited (e.g. near hairspray or aerosol cans).
  7. Don’t place a space heater close to furniture or curtains, and ensure it is in good working order before using. You should get it checked out by an electrician if you’re not sure. Don’t drape anything over the lamps – if you want to dim the light, buy a lower wattage bulb or turn it off altogether.
  8. Get your chimney inspected annually and ensure it is professionally cleaned, especially during colder winter months when you’ll be using it a lot. Avoid burning wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, rubbish or trees in your fireplace as these can all lead to chimney fires.
  9. Keep any flammable liquids or objects away from sources of ignition, and don’t store these in a garage or utility room if it has an appliance in it that has a pilot light. They should be kept in a separate outbuilding.
  10. If you use an extension cord for extended periods of time, make sure they are high-quality and only used for a short period of time. You should also ensure anything connected to them isn’t in the main traffic flow of the room.
  11. If you have a heating system or air-conditioning unit, make sure it is regularly checked by a professional. You shouldn’t use extension cords for air conditioners – if it overheats, it’ll be like an electric heater that has gotten out of control.
  12. If you have a fireplace, make sure there are no embers or sparks in the fire box when you are removing the ash or wood. You need to be really careful if these are hot as they could ignite and cause a slow-burning fire.
  13. If you are cooking with oil, keep a lid or baking tray nearby. If you should see any flames, you’ll be able to quickly suffocate the fire using this lid and can then quickly turn off your stove or fryer. Don’t use any water as this may cause the hot oil to splash you, leading to serious burns.
  14. Avoid cooking when tired or after drinking alcohol as this can lead to poor decision-making and forgetfulness.
  15. If you smoke in your home, make sure you aren’t lying down or sitting as this may lead to you falling asleep while your cigarette is ignited. Don’t smoke in bed either – and when you clean your ashtray out, dampen the ash with water before putting them in a bin away from your house.
  16. Try not to dry clothes on an airer or dryer by a fire – use the outdoors or radiators where possible.
  17. Be careful at Christmas when using old or low-quality lights on your tree. When a tree is dry and hasn’t been watered enough, or is old and damaged, it can become highly combustible.
  18. Once you have used a match, make sure you dampen it with water before disposing of it.
  19. Unplug any chargers (i.e. for phones or laptops) when not in use.
  20. Don’t pile up any lawn clippings near to your house as these can create heat while fermenting, leading to them catching on fire. You should also be careful outdoors of using any BBQ or open heat for cooking, ensuring it isn’t too close to your house, is extinguished after use, and isn’t on decking (given that this can be flammable).

For more information about Automist® Smartscan®, get in touch with Intelligent Mist now on 01206 544 223. With offices in London, Brighton and Colchester, we are one of the leading experts in the South-East of England for installing this cutting-edge firefighting system within residential buildings. Contact us today.