The lives of 18 Romanian mothers and children were saved by smoke alarms fitted as part of a Shropshire-led campaign to improve fire safety in rural parts of Transylvania. A major fire broke out in a care home in April, caused by a cigarette, but residents managed to escape after the alarm was raised. The home’s manager later praised UK’s Operation Sabre for installing smoke alarms as part of a campaign in rural areas of Romania.

“The smoke alarms saved 18 residents from what could have been fatal consequences,” said Steve Worrall, a retired Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, who began the fire prevention campaign in Romania several years ago. Last year the Romanian Government invited six members of Operation Sabre to carry out a one week audit of one of Transylvania’s professional fire services - the first time an international team has been allowed to do so. 

The audit, based on methods to assess UK fire services, proved to be a success in identifying both areas of good practice and those for potential improvement. A key recommendation set out in the team's findings was the need to promote the use of smoke alarms - a recommendation reinforced by the recent fire. The audit’s results are being shared throughout Romania’s fire services. 

A university building in central London was evacuated after a fire broke out in a basement storeroom.

About 100 people fled the scene after flames broke out at the Strand campus of King’s College University shortly before 1.35pm on Thursday.

Fire crews from six fire stations were scrambled to the scene.

Six fire engines and 25 crew members were still tackling the blaze more than an hour after the sub-basement store cupboard went up in flames.

Pictures from the scene show fire crews surrounding the building, with hose pipes running from fire engines into the university campus.

Students and staff were warned to avoid the building while the incident was dealt with.

A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said: “Six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers have been called to a fire at a university building on Strand.

“Part of a store room in a sub-basement of the university building is currently alight. Approximately 100 people left the building before the arrival of the brigade.

“The brigade was called at 1.34pm. Fire crews from Euston, Islington, Bethnal Green, Soho, Dowgate and Chelsea fire stations are at the scene.

“The cause of the fire is currently unknown.”

A King’s College London spokeswoman since said: “A fire has broken out in the basement of the Macadam building but is now under control.

"The building has been evacuated. Fire services remain in attendance on site. King’s students and staff are asked to avoid the Macadam and Chesham buildings in Surrey Street on the Strand Campus until further notice.”

A couple who could not afford central heating died in a house fire started by a portable heater, an inquest heard.
Blaise Alvares and Sharon Soares, who had a baby girl, died following the fire at their Swindon home in November.


The couple shared the house with another family, relying on bio-ethanol heaters to stay warm as they could not afford the central heating bills.
Assistant coroner Nicholas Rheinburg recorded conclusions of accidental death.


The inquest heard the three-bedroom terrace house in Manchester Road did not have any working smoke alarms.

Both families who lived there relied on portable heaters as the central heating was too expensive to run, the inquest was told.
Fire investigator Michael Bagnall said: "The most likely cause was it was an accident with the use of this bio-fuel burner.
"I can't completely discount an electrical fault but the most likely cause was the bio-fuel burner.
"It was a particularly cold night and I find it difficult to believe that there was no sort of heating being used."

Mr Bagnall added he believed this type of heater was not safe for indoor use and that fires often started during re-filling.
He said he also knew of one fatality in Staffordshire in 2012.


Assistant coroner, Mr Rheinburg said: "I find as a fact that it was a bio-ethanol fuelled fire that caused the blaze, flammable material coming into contact with the heat source."


He added that he would write to the Chief Fire Officers Association about the tragedy and its link to this type of portable heater.
Mrs Soares died three days after the fire from carbon monoxide poisoning.


Her husband died two days before Christmas due to complications from serious burns.


Survivor Gracino Fernandes, who was rescued by his son, told Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner's Court: "I thought I was going to die in the house."

The owner of a kebab shop in Hastings has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £4,811.27 after admitting to two breaches of fire safety rules. The prosecution was brought by East Sussex Fire and Rescue, which uncovered the failings at Erol’s Kebab, owned by Mr Ceyhun Varol. Following this prosecution East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to warn other establishments that failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice is a very serious offence and will be dealt with accordingly.

Erol’s Kebab comprised of a takeaway and small restaurant on the ground-floor, along with a basement which was used for food preparation and storage. Residential accommodation was located on the first, second and third floors.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Business Safety Inspectors visited the property in July 2014, where inspectors identified that the escape routes from the upper floors were inadequate, as the only means of escape was down a single staircase which lead directly into the commercial area. It was also found the premises were not fitted with an adequate fire detection or alarm system. The conditions were deemed so severe that people were being placed at risk of death or serious injury and a Prohibition notice was issued the same day, which immediately prevented sleeping from taking place on the upper floors and basement areas.

A follow-up visit was carried out by Business Safety Inspectors at the premises on in August 2016, where Mr Varol admitted sleeping on the third-floor of the premises and inspectors observed beds and bedding. In court, Magistrates commented how it had taken Mr Varol more than 31 months to rectify the issues in order for the prohibition notice to be withdrawn and the disregard of the notice in force. Business Safety Department Manager, Mark Hobbs, said: “This outcome reinforces the importance of using enforcement as an appropriate measure to ensure restaurants and takeaways do not breach fire safety standards, specifically illicit sleeping on these types of premises. “We hope that this conviction sends out a strong message to restaurant and takeaway owners in the area that sleeping accommodation above a commercial kitchen represents a significant risk to life, unless adequate fire protection and precautions are in place.” 

A former hotel owner in Sheffield has been handed an 8-month jail sentence after admitting to breaching fire safety rules, reports The Star. Mr Amandeep Sandhu, who owned the Cutlers Hotel, was prosecuted by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue following an investigation back in 2014. Inspectors found that the hotel at that time did not have a working fire alarm and ordered its closure while safety improvements were made. During a second inspection three days later further fire safety law breaches were discovered.

They found that Mr Sandhu had failed to carry out a suitable fire risk assessment and that the hotel was not equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms. The hotel also lacked adequate emergency lighting and hotel staff had not been provided with adequate training. Steve Helps, Head of Prevention and Protection at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “We always try to work positively with businesses to comply with fire safety regulation, but this case is a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to comply with those laws. "Had a fire broken out in these premises then there can be little doubt that lives would have been lost.”

A spokeswoman for Saxon Hotels, which bought the hotel in 2015 and refurbished it, said: "We would like to point out that Saxon Hotels has no connection at all to the previous owner. "Saxon Hotels takes guest safety seriously and after purchase we undertook an extensive refurbishment and upgrading of the historic city centre hotel which included all aspects of fire and safety systems.”

A landlord from Wembley who rented out accommodation to a family of five has been handed a suspended jail sentence after London Fire Brigade found numerous fire safety breaches at the property.

Fire chiefs described the crowded house of multiple occupation (HMO) as a ‘potential death trap.’

Mr Jan Ahmed, who was the leaseholder of premises above a barber’s shop, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to ten offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

He was handed 38 days in custody (suspended for six months) and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs.

At the time of the offences in January 2015 the HMO comprised of seven first floor rooms and a second floor attic. The attic and all but one of the first floor rooms were occupied by paying tenants, with three of the rooms being lived in by up to five people each.

When they visited the property the Brigade’s fire safety inspectors discovered numerous fire safety failings.

They found:

- A poor loft conversion and a hole in the landing that could cause a fire to quickly spread
- No fire alarm system or firefighting equipment.
- No safe emergency exits from the second-floor loft room. Escape was via a steep and unstable “ladder” type bolt-together staircase and a trapdoor which didn’t have a proper handle fitted on the inside.
-None of the bedroom doors were fire doors
-Gaps above two of the doors which would cause fire to spread and inhibit the ability of residents to escape
-No emergency lighting to illuminate escape routes
-The electrical mains switch box in the hall was not fire protected and a large hole in the ceiling between the first floor landing and the loft area above
-No evidence of a fire risk assessment.
-Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Andy Hearn said: “This building was a potential death trap. The crowded and cramped conditions combined with the woefully inadequate fire safety provision would have put the lives of those inside at serious risk if ever a fire had broken out.

“It’s the responsibility of landlords under fire safety law to ensure their tenants are safe from the risk of fire. If we find they are not taking those responsibilities seriously we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”

 

It has been brought to our attention that recent guidance has been issued with regards to the chemical 2,4-DNP (2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine, technically called 2,4-DNPH).

This substance should be stored in a damp condition. If the substance dries out it can be potentially explosive. The advice being given is to leave the container closed and call the science advisory body CLEAPSS for further advice.

Please follow the links below for further information.

CLEAPSS
Department for Education

 

This has also been featured in national news.

 

You can also call FCS-live if you need further advice.

An 84-year-old man has died following a house fire in Glasgow.


Police and fire crews were called to a property in Crawford Lane in Partick at about 17:15 on Thursday.
The man's body was found inside the house. An 83-year-old woman was taken to hospital and was being treated for smoke inhalation. Her current condition was unknown.


A joint investigation between police and fire services was ongoing to establish the cause of the blaze.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "The fire was extinguished and the body of an 84-year-old man was found within.
"An 83-year-old woman was also in the house managed to get out.


"She has been taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and is being treated for smoke inhalation."
A Scottish Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said: "Three Scottish Fire and Rescue crews were sent to the scene and found the fire extinguished prior to arrival."

 

A landlord from High Wycombe has been fined over £18,000 after trying to trick inspectors that she had complied with safety rules. Owner Mrs Nahida Rehman and her accomplice Yasser Khan, conspired to fake a builder’s invoice to show that repair works on the 5-bedroom property under her ownership had been brought up to safety standards.

Earlier this year the council’s private housing team visited the property, and told Mrs Rehman that improvements were needed to meet fire and other health and safety requirements. Among the changes needed to be made were fireproofing the building and installing a fire door.

Despite the landlord later telling the council the work had been done, a follow up check found that the work was only partially completed and did not comply with regulations. In a bid to convince investigators she had asked for the work to be done, Rehman delivered a builder’s invoice with Khan’s name and signature to the council office.

However, suspicions were raised and after further inspections, council workers discovered that the building company named as responsible knew nothing about the project.

Mr Khan was also handed a fine of £10,000.

A SAMSUNG Galaxy S7 owner fears she could have been killed as it overheated in her hand and exploded.

Supply teacher Sarah Crockett, 30, told how the phone blew up in a busy cafe even though it was not being charged.

Similar incidents have been reported previously when the phones are on charge, although a case like Sarah’s has also emerged in the US.

And experts say it could spark a fresh crisis for Samsung.

The South Korean giant has already had to issue a full recall of its latest handset, the £750 Note 7, after devices burst into flames when charging.

Mum-of-two Sarah, 30, was with husband Matt, 29, when her three-month-old mobile started to balloon in size before melting in clouds of white smoke in Witham, Essex.

She said: “It suddenly just expanded in my hand and got really, really hot.

“I dropped it on the table. Within a few seconds there was smoke everywhere and I jumped out of the way. The whole thing was just barbecued.

“I lost all my photos, including my four-year-old son Ollie’s first day at school. But what if it had been in his hands? What if I had been driving?”

As customers fled, waiter Jordan Pierce, 32, picked the phone up with a cloth before dumping it outside.

Sarah sent CCTV footage from the Hold the Anchovies cafe to Samsung.

But she added: “They said it must have been charging at the time and I told them it wasn’t — which seemed to surprise them as they said it was the first they’d heard anything like this.”

A Samsung spokesman said: “There are no known safety issues with Galaxy S7 devices.

“This issue is currently being investigated and our customer services team is in contact with the customer regarding the matter.”

 

 

A defective model of tumble dryer caused a house fire which killed a mother of two, a coroner has ruled.
The same type of Beko dryer that led to Mishell Moloney's death was responsible for 20 other fires, Birmingham Coroner's Court heard.
But none had the same defect thought to have caused the blaze that killed the 49-year-old in Rubery in February.
Beko said the "risk of injury was low" in other incidents. Coroner Emma Brown recorded a narrative verdict.

The company's director of quality, Andrew Mullen, was asked by the coroner why Beko had not decided to recall the 8kg DCS 85W model.
He said: "We looked at the number of incidents against sales, the severity of the incidents and circumstances, and in all those assessments they were all incidents that happened within 10 or 20 minutes of the tumble dryer being used.
"Nearly all those were when the tumble dryer was in unheated buildings such as a shed or outhouse. In those cases the risk of injury was low."
He added the model was discontinued last year "as part of a range change".
Ms Moloney was discovered at her home in Coriander Close, Rubery, after relatives found window blinds blackened with soot and forced their way in.


An investigation found the fire started in or around the area where the dryer's printed circuit board (PCB) was.
'Family needs answers'
The coroner said it was her conclusion the death was due to smoke inhalation from a fire caused by the tumble dryer in her kitchen and the source within the dryer was the PCB.


But she said it was "not possible to identify the nature of the defect which caused the fire".
Beko said "in virtually all cases" the identified cause of blazes traced to the model had been "the run capacitor" and never the PCB.
Mr Mullen said a decision not to recall the model was taken after a risk assessment and consultation with trading standards.
He revealed two smaller models (the 6kg and 7kg) had been recalled because of 100 incidents of reported faults with the capacitor, "within the first three months".


After the hearing, Ms Moloney's daughter Jodie said: "My mum was quite simply the best mum my brother Joshua and I could have asked for."
The family's lawyer Paul Tapner, of Slater and Gordon, said the family "needs answers from the manufacturer".
After the inquest, Mr Mullen said safety was its "highest priority" and the product involved "remains completely safe for use, meeting and exceeding all European standards".