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.

Holiday water safety is a must

With the summer holidays fast approaching many families will be looking forward to a well earned break.

CFOA works closely with organisations such as RLSS UK, RoSPA, RNLI and MCA to spread awareness about water safety in the UK. Please don’t forget these water safety messages when you are away from home this summer.

The issue of drowning is certainly not unique to the UK. Lack of local knowledge can also mean that foreign waters pose more risk to a visiting tourist and relaxed behaviour around pools can and does lead to tragedy.  About ¼ (143) of drownings in Spain are foreign nationals according to Escuela Segovia de Socorrismo.

Find the best spot

The temptation is to find that hidden gem of a beach and get away from everyone else.  A secluded beach is not the safest option.

We strongly suggest you use a lifeguarded beach during patrolled hours. If you have children they are like a second set of eyes however, it is important to remember that it is up to you to correctly supervise children not the lifeguard.

Dress your children in something nice and bright/ distinctive – it is easier to keep an eye on them. Make sure your children know what to do or where to go if they get lost – agree a meeting point or go to the lifeguards.

As well a looking for people in difficulty  lifeguards are also looking for other dangers such as jellyfish which may make swimming dangerous.

For holidays in the UK the RNLI have a great page on their website which allows you to look up a beach and find details of the facilities and lifeguard dates and times. It is also worth spending some time taking a look at their Respect The Water campaign which runs through the summer and highlights the issue of coastal drownings and the work RNLI to reduce the number of deaths.

RNLI Lifeguards keeping watch over Croyde Beach

For Ireland you can check for lifeguarded beaches on Irish Water Safety.

In Spain the Red Cross (Cruz Roja) patrol many beaches and you can search for a lifeguarded beach on their site by putting in the coastal area of Spain you are visiting. It also provides useful information about each beach such as facilities and hours the beach is manned.

The Australian Lifeguard Service can help you find a suitable beach and in addition they have a beach safe app which you can download and make sure you have up to date information about nearby beaches on your holiday.

Obviously we can’t list all countries here but a simple web search for the country or region you are visiting for lifeguarded beaches should present you with useful information.

The water even in a hot region can still be very cold. This can be exacerbated by going from very hot air to cold water. Cold water shock kills. It doesn’t matter if you are normally a strong swimmer.

Learn the language

Make sure you know what the flags on the beach mean. They will indicate if you should enter the water. Like language there are differences between countries. So it’s worth double checking any information boards at the beach or asking a lifeguard.

In the UK and Australia you can expect to see red over yellow flags for a swimming area observed by lifeguards. You should swim between the flags. Also be aware that in the course of a day the lifeguards may change the position of the flags on the beach in response to changes in the water.  A red flag indicates you should not swim in the water.

Some countries such as Spain have adopted a traffic light system to indicate the conditions in the water. Red is do not enter (undercurrents, strong waves), yellow is be very cautious (possible change ) and green means calm waters (flat no undercurrent).Remember these are about the conditions in the water – they don’t mean no risk. In addition to these flags you should also see the red and yellow split flags for monitored safe swimming areas.

It is worth noting that in Italy a white flag rather than green means calm water conditions but in some areas of Spain such as the Costa del Sol a white flag can mean jellyfish. Ask if you aren’t sure.

France has a different system with triangular flags which also correspond to the above traffic light system with additional flags for water quality – blue triangle for good and orange for poor.

Relax by the pool

It’s not just the coast that poses a risk on holiday. It’s quite the norm nowadays to have a pool either at the hotel or at a villa. More information can be found on RoSPA’s website about the risks of pools.

In some countries such as France and Australia there are laws which means pools must be enclosed by fencing but the type of pools they apply to may differ and some countries have no such laws. It is also worth noting you should still remain vigilant even if there is a fence.

  • Alcohol should be avoided – never swim after drinking and don’t drink next to the pool – it is very easy to feel drowsy or fall asleep after drinking in the sun
  • Know your pool – check the depth, where is the deepest point? (the middle, which end)
  • Don’t think arm bands or a rubber rings prevent drowning
  • Clear trip hazards (such as toys) from around the pool
  • Never leave a child unsupervised near or in a pool – not even for a second
  • Don’t assume you will hear if there is a problem – children can slip below the surface silently
  • Don’t assume because a hotel pool has an attendant or lifeguard you don’t need to supervise – and remember a pool attendant is not neccessarily a trained lifeguard
  • Designate someone to keep an eye on the kids (take turns)– don’t assume that because there are a group of adults someone will notice a child falling in
  • Never leave children supervising children near a pool

If you are holidaying with a pool check the safety arrangements beforehand. Some may have an alarm system where when set if the surface of the water is broken an alarm is activated.

Some young children have drowned as they have silently wandered to the pool either early in the morning or late at night when they were thought to be asleep. Consider taking devices such as portable door alarms on holiday.

One of the best things you can also do is make sure you know what to do in an emergency. Make sure you know basic first aid and the number to call to get help and the address of where you are staying.

Make sure your children can swim – for advice take a look at the Amateur Swimming Association website. You may also wish to sign Becky Ramsey’s petition calling for water safety to be part of the national curriculum.



Working together to make all safe and well

A new video highlighting how firefighting has changed across the decades has now been launched, with an emphasis on ‘safe and well’ visits.

The video – produced by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – shows how firefighting has changed in recent years. Fighting more fires and carrying out more rescues in the 1980s; fitting smoke alarms in the 1990s, developing education and home visits in 2000s; recognising older people were at higher risk in 2010; to developing Safe and Well visits in recent years.

This video is now being rolled out nationally to other fire services and partners, and is being supported by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and NHS England. It is hoped the video will raise awareness of Safe and Well visits and encourage more people who would benefit such a visit to contact their local fire and rescue service.

Research has shown that people deemed to be more vulnerable are at a higher risk of injury and death from fire-related incidents.

This is part of a much wider partnership; Fire and Rescue Services across the country have joined forces with NHS England and other organisations to help tackle health and social issues, while working towards reducing winter pressures.

As a result, fire services will be carrying out more ‘Safe and Well checks in people’s homes, in particular those deemed to be more vulnerable.

Currently firefighters carry out 670,000 home safety checks each year – equivalent to visiting everyone who lives in Iceland twice – and are hoping to increase this number. It is hoped the ‘Safe and Well’ visits will particularly help people who are vulnerable and those with complex conditions.

As well as reducing the risks of a fire, the visits aim to reduce health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation which will also reduce visits to A&E, broken hips and depression.

In addition, evidence shows that a high percentage of people will allow firefighters into their home due to the high level of trust they have; making it easier for them to give simple advice which could save or change a life.

The video also coincides with the recent NHS England, Local Government Association and CFOA document ‘Working Together’. This sets out how Fire and Rescue Services, health and social care organisations are at the heart of their communities and seek to help people stay safe and well in their homes, with particular emphasis on early intervention.

‘Working Together’ outlines the commitment of NHS England, social care, health providers and Fire and Rescue Service to work together and reduce future demand.

CFOA Lead for Health, Peter O’Reilly, said: “We know that joint working is having a major impact on the prevention agenda; specifically targeting people who are more vulnerable who are at a higher risk from death and injury from fire in their homes.”

Fire and rescue services and health and social care organisations are at the heart of
their communities; seeking to help people stay safe and well in their homes and in
their neighbourhoods.”

NHS England’s Head of Long Term Conditions, End of Life Care and Older People, Jacquie White said, “working better together just makes sense, we all need to maximise opportunities to ensure people stay safe and well in their home. The Fire and Rescue Service are reaching out to many of the same people and families who find themselves at risk of ill health.”

Neil Odin, Deputy Chief Fire Officer at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services, commented: ‘We are delighted to get the chance to share this video through CFOA as the important messages about the positive ways in which the fire service is changing to help make people not only safe, but also well, resonate beyond Hampshire out across the nation.’
The Fire and Rescue Service has a long and successful history of prevention and early
intervention. By working in partnership with other organisations including health and social care, all organisations involved in the partnership are seeing results.

Thatch advice comes up trumps

There are more than 60,000 thatched buildings in the UK and many of these are listed. If a fire starts in a thatched property the results are often devastating, many homes are completely destroyed. These fires are particularly difficult to put out as thatch is designed to repel water.

In a recent thatch fire Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service cut breaks in the thatch to reduce fire spread in attempt to allow possessions to be salvaged. This fire was brought under control by 50 fire fighters and Oxfordshire was assisted by Royal Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Services

In addition to the advice fire and rescue services give to all homes, if you are lucky enough to own a thatched property then take some time to make sure you are aware of the additional precautions to prevent fire.


The majority of thatch fires are caused because of faults in the chimney or flue – thought to be about 90%.

You should check the condition of your chimney -if it’s old and many are very old – or poorly maintained, smoke and hot gases can escape into the roof space or directly into the thatch. Look out for staining around chimney breast and black or brown localised deposits on the chimney of roof space. Get the entire chimney checked every three years. The mortar should be good through the entire stack. Make sure your chimney is suitably lined to prevent flue gases leaking.

When your roof is being re-thatched make sure the last added thatch is removed, otherwise you thicken the thatch and increase the insulation around the chimney, it also reduces the height of the chimney above the thatch. Very old thatch can be of archaeological significance so you may need to speak to a conservation officer for advice. Your thatcher should also check areas of the chimney usually covered by the thatch for signs of damage.

Solid Fuel and Wood Burners

If you have a solid fuel or wood burner be extra cautious, they burn at a much higher temperature than a traditional open fire which would also draw cool air from the room up the chimney and mixed with the flue gases which kept their temperature down.

New log burners with sealed units can generate 300 – 600◦C. This heat warms the bricks in the chimney and is transferred to the thatch which holds the heat as it is a great insulator. With regular use the thatch by the chimney can reach 200◦C quite easily. Chimney linings for thatch should be suitable to stops gases from escaping and reduce heat transfer. Such work should only be undertaken by professionals and a good source of advice is HETAS.

Your chimney should be swept regularly – twice a year. This includes if you have a wood burning stove. Soot is a fuel and will burn if it accumulates. In a conventional home this results in a chimney fire – in a thatch this can ignite the roof.

Use seasoned wood to reduce build up and make sure your appliances are checked and serviced annually.

Separating the roof void from the thatch with a fire resistant barrier and spraying the thatch itself with flame retardant coating are other physical measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire.

Warning Systems

There are things you can do to make sure you have the earliest warning possible of a problem, this can help prevent fires or give you precious time to escape and contact the fire service.

A stovepipe monitor can be fitted to wood burning or solid fuel appliances which monitor the temperature of the flue gasses from the appliance and can warn you to manage the firebox to reduce these temperatures.

Some companies are able to install heat detectors in the thatch at points near the chimney which monitors the temperature and alert a control panel if the thatch is overheating.

Consider fitting a smoke alarm in the loft.Ideally linked to other alarms smoke alarms in the house.

For information and advice about all aspects of owning a thatched property, including fire safety advice visit The Thatch Advice Centre.

If you have a thatched property get in touch with your local fire service. In some areas they will be able to visit and offer you advice for your property. Also it may be worth making them aware that you have a thatch and it may also be helpful for them to know if you have difficult access or limited water supplies.

It is useful for homeowners to know exactly where their property is so make a note or your ordinance survey co-ordinates in case of emergency.




Festival camping safety is a must

It’s only one week until Glastonbury opens its’ gates for the 2016 festival and if you’re lucky this might not be the only festival you are venturing off to this summer.

The majority of people will be sleep under canvas at festivals and for many younger people this might be the first time they’ve camped or camped without their parents. Before setting off make sure you know how to camp safely to reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

A fire can destroy a tent in less than a minute

There is no such thing as a fire proof tent and although you will find many tents made of fire retardant material they will still burn very quickly. At festivals tents are often pitched very closely together so it makes sense to be extra cautious.

  • Avoid open fires or cooking too close to tents. This can be tricky at festivals where you are pitched quite closely so consider taking a collapsible camping bucket and keep filled with water by your tent (water is usually readily available around the site)
  • Don’t smoke in your tent
  • If you smoke near your tent make sure smoking materials are properly extinguished
  • Never use candles in or near your tent – use a torch
  • Chinese lanterns are not allowed at most festivals and CFOA never recommend their use  (watch Glastonbury Festivals’ Chinese Lantern safety film) 

In the event of a fire

  • Don’t try and save anything from the tent
  • Get out and stay out
  • Make sure you have a means of cutting your way out of your tent just in case
  • If clothing should catch fire – stop- drop and roll
  • Shout a warning to those around you as fire can spread quickly when tents are closely pitched
  • Call 999
  • Meet at the fire point for your field


  • Avoid cooking when you’ve been drinking – you risk causing a fire or burning yourself
  • If you are using a camping stove make sure you know how to use it
  • Keep an eye on cooking appliances – don’t leave them unattended
  • If you take spare cannisters make sure you have bought the correct one and know how to change it. Accidents can and do happen, as shown by this example from the NHS – I blew myself up at a festival campsite
  • Don’t smoke whilst you are changing a gas cylinder
  • Never cook in your tent – even if it is pouring with rain. Using a stove or BBQ in a tent is an obvious fire risk but can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. BBQs give this off event when they are functioning correctly. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills
  • Never use a stove to heat a tent or bring a BBQ into the tent for heat. Again this is a fire risk and even if a BBQ is cooling it will give off deadly carbon monoxide

For more information about gas and BBQ safety visit the Gas Safe Register website which has lots of useful information including Roland’s story which highlights the devastating consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The symptoms include dizziness, nausea and headaches – in fact similar to a hang over. If in doubt seek medical advice.

CO Poisoning
Be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning, they can be mistaken for a hangover.


Make good your escape

Make good your escape

We spend a lot of time and effort making sure people can’t get into our homes but often do we give any thought to how we would get out in an emergency?Plan-an-Escape-Route

In the event of a fire seconds count and this is why fire and rescue services and Fire Kills are asking people to take some time this spring to think about an escape plan for the home.

Unsung heroes

Installing a smoke alarm is only the first step in protecting you and your family. Make sure you install alarms that are suitable for your needs, correctly sited and working. CFOA suggest you test your alarms once a week. It’s a simple message but worth re-iterating. Fire statistics for 2013-2014 show in about 30% of dwelling fires there was no alarm and in 19% of fires there was an alarms but it did not operate. This is usually because of dead or missing batteries and in some cases the smoke never reached the smoke alarm – suggesting not enough were installed or installed in the correct places

It’s not enough just to install the alarms. An escape plan is of little use if you aren’t aware there is a problem.  For more advice about alarms please see CFOA’s earlier blog or contact your local fire and rescue service who may be able to carry out a ‘Safe and Well’ visit which can also include helping you devise an escape plan.

Escape Plan

Of course you won’t necessarily know where, when or even if a fire will break out in your home but it is worth considering the various escape routes available to you.

  • The normal route in and out of the home is usually the best route but your plan should assume this route is not available
  • Make sure that all exits from the house are clear of clutter
  • Keep stairways clear
  • Keys for windows and doors should be easily found and accessible to everyone in the home
  • Double check your windows – particularly if you are in a modern house or have replacement windows the upstairs ones should open wide to help you escape – avoid locking these
  • Make sure everyone in the house knows the plan – this includes children and guests
  • Try to make sure you have phones on all floors of your home or take your mobile upstairs at night
  • Close internal doors at night – they will reduce the spread of fire and smoke

What to do if you can’t get out

  • Try and get everyone into one room. Ideally with a window and phone
  • Try and stop smoke from entering the room by blocking the bottom of the door- use anything to hand, cushions, bedding, rugs – rip the curtains down if you have to
  • Open the window and call for help – shout “Help Fire”
  • If you cannot open the window you need to smash it. Hit it hard with an object in the bottom corner and protect yourself from jagged edges by putting something like a blanket or rug over them
  • If you are on the ground floor or first floor you may be able to get out of the window. Make sure you try and cushion the ground with bedding or cushions
  • Never jump out but lower yourself down

High Rise Flats

High rise flats are built to give some protection from fire. Unless smoke or fire is directly affecting you it is best to stay put unless instructed otherwise by a fire fighter.

  • Make sure communal areas are not cluttered or used to store items. Not only are they a trip hazard when escaping they can be fuel for the fire
  • Make sure doors in communal areas are not propped open
  • Report any damage to doors to stairways
  • Make sure doors leading to exits and stairwells are not locked or blocked
  • Never use the lift as an escape route

Once you have made an appropriate escape plan for your household make sure you practise it so everyone know what they should do in en emergency.

My Red Thumb Campaign

My Red Thumb day is 12 May and is a road safety awareness campaign which aims to reduce the number of accidents and deaths caused by distractions, especially those associated with using a mobile phone whilst driving.

My Red Thumb Campaign Poster 2016

Initially launched in Devon in 2014 as a multi-agency road safety initiative, it has grown to become a national social media campaign.

Drivers using a phone while at the wheel are not only less aware of what is happening around them, but they react more slowly and take longer to brake. They are also four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing yourself and/or other people, according to research by RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents).

Laura Pratt, SM Community Safety Education & Road Safety – Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “This year we will be trying to get as many people as possible to spread the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

We will be promoting the messages though social media links to associated websites as well as through engagement events throughout the Service area. We also have purchased silicone thumb rings to promote the message and act as a visual reminder of not to use a mobile phone whilst driving and to challenge drivers who do.”

The campaign also encourages people to paint their thumb nail red as a reminder not to check their phone whilst driving and also show their support for the campaign by sharing their red thumb selfies on social media.

The advice to motorists before starting a journey is:

  • Turn off your phone or put it on silent.
  • Put your phone out of reach where you will not be tempted to reach for it.

And when making a journey:

  • If you phone rings ignore it or ask a passenger to take the call for you.
  • If you need to make a call first find a sensible place to stop and turn off your engine.

For more information visit On Twitter @MyRedThumb or go to