Police campaign against drivers mobile use

This week police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will begin a fresh operational push against mobile phone use by drivers.

The campaign runs from today (Monday 23 January – Sunday 29 January).CFOA and many fire and rescue services will be supporting this campaign. Fire services respond to thousands of road traffic accidents every year and hope this campaign will encourage people to change their behaviour and prevent many of these incidents happening in the future.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue service responding to one of the hundreds of road accidents that occur in their area

This latest campaign follows an earlier one in November 2016 in which 36 police forces took part.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have today announced that in that week long campaign in November 10,012 vehicles were stopped. This resulted in 7,800 fixed penalty notices, 689 court summons and hundreds of verbal warnings. 117 other driving distraction offences such as eating while driving were also identified.

Throughout this campaign week police forces will run targeted operations and education campaigns.

Operations include:

 targeted patrols using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cams to catch offenders;

 partnership with local authorities and emergency services to deter people from taking the risks;

 innovative digital campaigns to communicate that the risks are more serious than people think;

  Community ‘spotters’ to highlight hotspots and report repeat offenders to police

  Advising the public about changes to penalties for mobile phone use by driving from 1 March 2017


Recent studies show the use of mobile phones when driving is widespread and the risks drastically underestimated.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, the NPCC’s lead for roads policing said: “This week forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.

“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.

“Forces will be working throughout the year to tackle this behaviour by motorists with national partners and the public.

At the moment drivers in England, Scotland and Wales risk three penalty point and a £100 fine is caught using a phone behind the wheel. But this is due to increase to six penalty points and £200 fine later in 2017. Additionally newly qualified drivers could be made to resit their driving test and experienced drivers could go to court if they offend twice, which could result in £1000 fine and a six-month driving ban.

Look out for the following hashtags on social media to support this campaign #ItCanWait and #EyesOnTheRoad


Parliament talks drowning prevention

A one-off oral evidence session was held in Parliament by the Transport Committee on 5 December 2016. The sessions aim was to scrutinise the structure and coordination of organisations that work to prevent and respond to emergency incidents around the coastline.

It also asked questions around the issues of beach safety, and the responsibilities of beach owners and managers in ensuring the safety of the public in the light of a spate of tragic accidents at a number of locations in summer 2016.

The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Lead, Dawn Whittaker, was one of those invited to give evidence.

It was an excellent opportunity for CFOA and members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to highlight the collaborative work that is undertaken to prevent drowning and also to raise awareness with politicians of the UK National Drowning Prevention Strategy. The strategy was launched in February 2016 and has an overarching aim of achieving a 50% reduction in accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. In real terms this means reducing the number of accidental drownings from approximately 400 per annum to 200.
CFOA_Water Safety Poster_DOG

The session also highlighted wider issues relating to drowning including the significant issue of drowning on inland waterways which accounts for around two thirds of fatalities. Furthermore, the impact of non – fatal drowning events are significant and as Dawn Whittaker mentioned these lead to serious and life changing injuries for up to eight times as many people as fatal drowning events.

NWSF members also met last week with the Local Government Association (LGA). They are the supporting association for politicians working in local government. Again this is a crucial link to develop in order to help raise awareness of the drowning issue amongst local councils.

It is hoped that by speaking to the LGA and raising awareness, local councils will be encouraged to take positive action to help prevent drownings as part of their duty of care. Councils would be encouraged to undertake risk assessments. Data which is collated and held on the WAter Incident Database (WAID) and the expertise of the NWSF can be drawn upon and be used to inform communities of their local level risk.

A meeting with Transport Minister, the Rt. Hon John Hayes CBE, also ensured that Ministerial support for the Drowning Prevention Strategy would continue and would he would further engage with other ministers to widen that support.

Of course underpinning this awareness is a real need for education around water safety. Beckie Ramsay campaigns for drowning prevention as part of the Doing it for Dylan campaign which she set up after the loss of her son in 2011. Beckie also works as a volunteer safety advocate for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and has supported many other fire and rescue services with local campaigns and events. She welcomed the parliamentary session and was able to submit some written evidence, this is important as we must not forget these are not just numbers – they are people. If we educate children now and in the future, as we do with regard to road and fire safety this may be an important step in reducing the number of drownings. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168941

A safe Hallowe’en doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated how easily a high street skeleton costume can ignite

Hallowe’en celebrations have changed considerably over the last few years. The dressing up and having a spooky time is a lot of fun so to make sure you stay safe take a look at some advice from CFOA.

Trick or Treating

Although it is fun to dress up and go out ‘trick or treating’ remember for many people the sight of groups dressed up and knocking on doors during the evening can be intimidating

  • Make sure children are accompanied by adults
  • Make sure your group has plenty of torches so you can see clearly and be seen
  • If a house is not obviously decorated for Hallowe’en it’s probably best not to knock on the door – at the least it can be annoying, at worst people can be frightened
  • Don’t play tricks – damaging property or throwing eggs is a criminal offence

If you have older or vulnerable friends or neighbours ask them how they feel about Hallowe’en.  Would they want some company or to join in your own celebrations rather than staying in? If you don’t want people to knock at your home a polite notice may deter people from knocking.

Dressing Up

Many people enjoy dressing up for Hallowe’en. CFOA is campaigning to raise awareness of the potential dangers of fancy dress costumes. Under current legislation these items are classed as toys but CFOA believes their safety could be improved if they we reclassified as children’s nightwear which undergoes stricter flammability testing.

Although in 2015 this issue was highlighted when TV presenter Claudia Winkleman spoke about  an incident when her daughter suffered burns after her supermarket bought costume caught light, the actual legislation has not changed. Some retailers have made a pledge to ensure their costumes undergo stricter testing which is something CFOA welcomed. But, parents should be aware that this is not the case for all high street retailers.

In order to make costumes as safe as they can be for now CFOA suggests

  • Don’t use candles. LED lights with the appropriate kite mark are safe and look out for naked flames in pumpkins on other people’s property
  • Avoid trailing costumes and make sure they are not too long for children
  • Try and do you research – some retailers have opted to make sure their Hallowe’en costumes undergo the same testing as children’s nightwear
  • Buy from a reputable retailer, this should avoid you ending up with something that should not even be sold in the UK
  • Don’t given children sparklers to hold when they are in fancy dress and adults should be careful with cigarettes and costumes

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service produced the following film to illustrate just how easily a costume can ignite when exposed to a flame

Make sure your children know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire. Take a look at Cheshire Fire and Rescue’s advice http://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/news-events/webcasts/safety-campaigns/video-stop-drop-and-roll

Fire and rescue services have advice on their own websites for Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. Take some time to have a look at your own service’s website and have a safe celebration.

Register right now for a safer home

Most households put quite a bit of time and effort into making sure they have the right appliances for their needs. It might mean you’ve shopped around for the best price, the best reviews or the latest safety features.

Once we open up the item how many of us fill out the paperwork and register the product? Well, according to a 2015 consumer survey by Populus for Electrical Safety First 47% of us do. Previous figures were lower at 36% of consumers and the rise is in part down to the Register My Appliance initiative by AMDEA.

There are many reasons why people don’t register appliances. It’s one of those jobs where you don’t quite complete the paperwork and shove it in a drawer or forget to post the envelope. If can often be because people are concerned about how personal details may be used. The assumption is that this information will be used for marketing purposes and therefore you expect a tirade of junk mail or simply people see no point in registering appliances.

What is the point in registering an appliance?

The main point of registering an appliance is down to safety.

When you buy a brand new appliance it will come with a warranty. Often the manufacturer asks that products are registered in a certain time period after purchase so as not to invalidate the warranty. Length of warranty can vary but if you have a problem you can look at getting it fixed by a qualified person.

Most crucially though, if there is a problem with a product even if the product is out of warranty the manufacturer can contact you and let you know what action needs to be taken.

On some occasions this might be advisory information but often this might be a repair. This repair will be free of charge. In cases of a large recall with an excessive wait for a repair a manufacturer may offer you a discounted replacement product. You don’t have to buy the discounted product – you can wait for the repair. CFOA’s advice though would be not to use a recalled product until it has been repaired even if a manufacturer says it is safe to use.

It is impossible for manufacturers to know who has these appliances unless we let them know. The easiest way to let them know is to register your product just in case there is a problem.

I’ve never registered my appliances – what should I do?

Electrical Safety First say the average success rate of a product recall is between 10-20%. Potentially this means many products are in homes which were recalled and area a fire or electric shock risk.

As part of Home Safety Week CFOA would like people to look at as many appliances as possible and get them registered.

Most people will have a range of appliances from different manufacturers. You can access all the main manufacturers via http://www.registermyappliance.org.uk/registration/

Douglas Herbison, Chief Executive of AMDEA says:

“Using registermyappliance.org.uk is one of the simplest ways of improving household safety. The portal provides quick access to the registration pages of over 65 leading brands. It only takes a few minutes to register appliances up to 12 years old and once it’s done you can be assured that you’ll be contacted in the rare instance that a safety action becomes necessary. “

You will need to know the make, model and serial number of the appliance. All of this information should be on the appliance on small safety plate. On washing machines and tumble dryers look on the inside of the door at the entrance to the drum. On dishwashers and ovens on the inside of the door and in fridges and freezers they are in the main compartment. Then you need a rough idea of the purchase date – it doesn’t have to be exact but useful as some recalls affect models made during a certain period of time.

Appliances do not have to be brand new to be registered. You can register appliances up to 12 years old. If you are not the first owner of an appliance you can still have a safety repair carried out.

What if I don’t know who made my appliance?

There are instances where products are made exclusively for a retailer or trade supplier and badged under that name. In a few cases you may not be able to register the product on AMDEA. You will need to contact the retailer directly and make sure they have your details. In some instances they do specify you should provide these details at time of purchase. Make sure you check if buying such items what the rules are.

Don’t just do your own appliances

As with most things these days – it is much easier to register appliances online. If you are taking the time to register an appliance make some time to do the same for a friend or family member that may need help. Not everyone has access to the internet and not everyone may be able to find the appliance information.register-my-appliance-promo-poster-a4

Home Safety Week 2016


This week is CFOA Home Safety Week. Fire and rescue services and stakeholders will raise awareness of the risk of accidental house fires caused by home appliances. The focus is primarily on white goods – most people will have at least two of the items listed below in their household.

Appliance fires 2014-15

White goods alone caused approximately 16,000 accidental fires in 2014-2015 in the UK. Appliance fires can be caused by a range of reasons. Possibly a manufacturing fault or a recalled item but very often it is down to human error. Commonly this can be incorrect installation, maintenance or use of an appliance. The cooker statistics look alarming but many of these fires are caused by user distraction or fat and grease build up. These fires also tend to be small. It is hoped small changes in behaviour can reduce the number of incidents occurring.

Although recently tumble dryer recalls have been in the public eye many more items have been recalled in recent years. Electrical Safety First say the average success rate of an electrical product recall in the UK is about 10-20%. Potentially we are using many products which are unsafe.

As part of the week CFOA is asking fire and rescue service to get behind and help publicise London Fire Brigade’s ‘Total Recalls’ campaign. It aims to make sure the public are better protected from potentially lethal faulty white goods by calling on the Government to improve the way that product recalls work and make it much easier for the public to find out about recalled products by having one government backed recall register.

Home Safety Week will offer advice on:

How to check if your appliances are subject to a recall

How to register appliances

Advice on use and maintenance of appliances

How you can help older friends and relatives in support of Older Peoples Day on 1 October

To find out more about Home Safety Week please get in touch with CFOA and look out for #SafeHome16 on twitter or contact your local fire and rescue service to find out about local activities or advice for your area.

CFOA Supports Gas Safety Week


CFOA and fire and rescue services in the UK will be supporting Gas Safety Week – 19 -25 September. It is an annual campaign to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of gas appliances. Gas Safety Week is coordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Many people may think that if a gas appliance has a problem you will smell gas – this is not always the case.

Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

Here are some simple tips to keep your home safe:

  • Check your gas appliances every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants – make sure your landlord arranges this. Set a reminder so you don’t forget at staygassafe.co.uk
  • Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered. You can find and check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.
  • Check for warning signs your appliances aren’t working correctlyg. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
CO Poisoning
Be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning, they can be mistaken for a hangover.
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Have an audible carbon monoxide alarm and test it regularly – This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.



Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords should make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Landlords are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Pipe-work, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All appliances and flues provided for tenants use have an annual safety check. Set a reminder so you don’t forget at www.staygassafe.co.uk.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by an engineer registered with Gas Safe Register.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record for two years.


In addition to being aware of the advice above tenants should:

  • Make sure you Check any gas appliances you own (they are your responsibility not that landlords) every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Set a reminder so you don’t forget at staygassafe.co.uk.
  • Check your Landlord’s Gas Safety Record. By law, your landlord must keep gas appliances supplied for you to use in good condition. They should arrange a gas safety check every 12 months and give you a record of the check.
  • Check the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.

If your landlord is not arranging for gas safety checks and you have asked him to, then you should take action.

Complain to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Their website has plenty of useful advice on what you should expect and what to do if your landlord is falling short. It is very serious if they are not complying – they could face a fine or prison.

For gas safety advice or to find and check an engineer visit the Gas Safe Register website at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk. Alternatively call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500.

Arson – It’s your business

As part of CFOA Business Safety Week, fire and rescue services are keen to point out the advice and help they can give businesses to prevent them becoming a victim of arson.

In the UK there are more than 3000 arson attacks on businesses each year. Most businesses never recover from a serious fire incident so it is worth taking measures to ensure your business is not an easy target. Most steps businesses can take are quite straightforward and simple.


Don’t fuel the fire

An arsonist will tend to look for any material to use a fuel. Rubbish is often used.

Make sure you manage waste correctly and efficiently. As we approach the Christmas period it may be that you have more waste than usual. Consider making plans so this waste does not accumulate. This may mean more frequently collections, using additional safe storage or even just making sure staff are breaking down items such as boxes correctly so bins are efficiently filled.

Try and keep combustible waste locked away or secured – arsonists will move the waste to a vulnerable or more secluded part of the business or move waste and wheelie bins and use them to climb to gain access to other areas. Waste should also be away from the buildings so if it is set alight it minimises the chances of spreading.

Be Secure

Make sure you review security at your business. Most arson attacks happen after hours when the business is unoccupied and in the cover of darkness. Make sure your business has robust security procedures and is securely locked.

CCTV and security lighting will make it harder for your business to be targeted. Make sure any trees or foliage is trimmed back and any cameras have good lines of sight. Make sure if someone gets onto your site they feel exposed and can be seen not just by cameras but any passing traffic or nearby buildings.

Lighting should be carefully planned as bad lighting can create shadows in which to hide or illuminate a secluded area to make it easier for an intruder to do damage. Infra- red lighting can panic an intruder and makes it less likely they can plan entry to the site.

Restrict access to your business out of hours. Try and keep access routes for pedestrians and vehicles to a minimum and ideally have these monitored. Signs to direct people to reception and designated areas for customer and staff parking will make people feel the site is managed and they are more likely to be questioned if they are off the normal route.

Look at places such as your front door- does post accumulate? Could combustibles be pushed through the door to start a fire? If so, an arson proof letter box which fits to the inside of the door or an external letter box are simple and cost effective precautions.

Talk to your neighbours

You may be aware of anti-social activity in your area. This might not present as fire setting but could be vandalism or evidence of anti-social gatherings. If this is the case this should be discouraged and it would be worth asking for advice from your local police. Work with other businesses to act as eyes and ears.

If there is any evidence of deliberate fire setting, no matter how small this should be reported. Tell your local fire and rescue service and the police. Small fires can be a precursor to a larger incident. But also make sure any neighbouring businesses are aware of incidents so you can work together.

Prevent fire spread

As CFOA have mentioned previously in the week staff training can be key to ensuring that incidents are responded to quickly and appropriately. Make sure staff are aware of the risk of arson particularly if small incidents have occurred.

Make all staff aware of the locking up procedure and abide by it. This is important to make sure the site is secure, but it should also include steps to mitigate fire spread if an incident should occur.  This can be as simple as making sure all internal doors are closed before leaving the building at night.

Make sure you have an out of hours detection system in place with suitable procedures. In the event of a fire the quicker the fire service can attend the less damage is likely to occur.

You may wish to consider a sprinkler system or water mist system. Information can be provided about the benefits from your local fire service.


Where to start?- Business fire safety

It can be very daunting if you are running a business to have to think about fire safety. It is easy when you don’t know how to approach something to put it off. Some people just don’t realise that the law applies to their particular role or business.

Who does the law apply to?

These are a few of the examples where people don’t always realise the law applies to them

  • Providers of self catering accommodation (includes caravans, hostels and bunkhouses)
  • Charities and voluntary organisations occupying a building
  • Landlords of multi occupied buildings who responsible for communal areas
  • A contractor who has some control over premises
  • Small businesses renting a building
  • Small businesses with very few employees
  • If you run a business from home, this includes businesses such as childminding services

If you are unsure contact your local fire and rescue service and ask.

What is expected of an employer?

  • You are required to carry out a fire risk assessment and review it regularly. If you have over 5 employees this must be a written risk assessment or if the business requires a licence or registration (bars or care homes) this must be written.
  • You must make sure you have a means of detecting fire, give warning in event of a fire, some means of fighting fire, plans for actions to be taken if a fire occurs and a means of escape.
  • Make sure fire equipment and facilities are maintained and in good working order
  • Provide information and training to staff. Any people working on site such as contractors must also have safety information
  • Create an emergency plan – so you know what to do if an incident should occur in your business or a nearby premises

These are the basic outlines of an employers obligations.

As a starting point there are various guides for business which you can readily access. Click here to find one which would be suitable for your business, the cover a range from animal premises and stables to cinemas.

Each guide has information on how to perform a suitable fire risk assessment. If anything in the business changes then the risk assessment will need reviewing. This could be anything from additional employees (even if they are temporary), age of employees especially if they are under 18, changes to the premises, even changes in stock levels. Don’t forget that when performing a risk assessment also try and address anything which may make your business an easy target for arson, this could be as simple as where and how much rubbish you store. There will be advice about reducing this risk later in Business Safety Week.

If you feel there are no changes in your business throughout the year we would still suggest an annual review.

If you have a large business (as a guide we would say over 20 employees) your business is complex (this could mean unusual building layout or heritage building) or you are likely to have many people on site (lots of customers for example) or you are just not comfortable with this then get help.

Where to go for help?

Your fire and rescue service want to help. Don’t feel they can’t be approached even if you know you are currently not complying. They cannot undertake the risk assessment for you but they will help you with advice and may be able to help in identifying competent help.

Many fire services offer free of charge drop in sessions or workshops which may be useful to you. Find your local fire and rescue service here and check their website for business safety advice.

You can employ a competent person or a fire risk assessor. Take some time to find the right one. It is the duty holder or employers responsibility to ensure an suitable risk assessment has been undertaken and the person performing it was competent.

There are no specific qualifications but they should demonstrate the following:

  • Understand the relevant fire safety legislation
  • Have appropriate education, training, knowledge and experience in the principles of fire safety
  • Have an understanding of fire development and the behaviour of people in fire
  • Understand the fire hazards, fire risks and relevant factors associated with occupants at special risk within the buildings of the type in question
  • Have appropriate training and/or experience in carrying out fire risk assessments

Things to consider to ensure the competence of a Fire Risk Assessor

  • Can they demonstrate evidence of compliance with the competency criteria set down by the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council?
  • Have they experience of working for your kind of business and premises?
  • Be clear about the scope of the work to be carried out and ensure that the assessor is provided with access to all areas of the premises and with relevant information.
  • Obtain alternative quotes – make sure they all cover the same scope, so you can draw a proper comparison.
  • It is advisable to request references from previous clients in similar premises types; ask them if they were satisfied and if any problems were later identified by the Fire and Rescue Authority.
  • It is advisable to ask for proof that they have sufficient professional indemnity insurance and to seek assurance that the contractor is impartial and has a complaints procedure.
  • Keep and maintain records of the steps you took in selecting your fire risk assessor.

The following document can help you find the right help for your business

A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor – Version 2 published 29th April 2014 (2)

This week is CFOA Business Safety Week

Banner logo 2016 for CFOA web

This week fire and rescue services throughout the UK will be supporting CFOA Business Safety Week which runs from 5-11 September.

The aim of the week is to publicise the support and advice fire and rescue services can offer which may help business protect themselves from fire and ensure they are complying with legal requirements. We would like businesses to approach fire and rescue services and ask for help if they need it.

The week is also an opportunity also to remind businesses to review their fire risk assessments and training as business needs change. This is particularly important at this time of year when many businesses prepare for the Christmas period. This might mean extra stock has to be stored, regular working hours may alter and temporary staff might be employed. Where will the stock go? Is there trained staff on site covering the additional hours and has time and effort been allocated to training new staff?

Up to 70% of businesses never reopen after a fire

CFOA President Paul Hancock said “Business Safety Week is a reminder to businesses that fire and rescue services are here to offer advice and help on making the workplace safe from fire. We ask employers to make this a priority by contacting us if they haven’t addressed fire safety, reviewing arrangements and training staff regularly. Not complying with the law can lead to financial penalties or, if the worst happens, loss of livelihoods and lives.”

The week will focus on the following :

  • The legal requirements
  • Reducing false alarms
  • Workplace advice – simple messages for employers to keep the workplace safe
  • Arson prevention

Each fire service will tailor their offer base on local need. If you are a business large or small get in touch with your local fire and rescue service and see how they can help you.

Here are some examples of the activities which are running as part of the campaign

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be targeting small independent retailers in Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Luton and Sandy on the 6, 7, 8 September with advice and a safety checklist for shopkeepers. They will also help them complete a simple risk assessment.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service will be holding a series of Business Education Seminars which will explain how businesses need to comply and provide you with an information pack and a chance to ask and questions you may have and of course the seminars are free of charge.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service will be out and about throughout the week in various towns to talk to local businesses. Click here to find out where they will be.

If you are interested in learning more or getting some free advice for your business, get in touch with your local fire and rescue service via their website or social media and look out for the #BSW16 on twitter.