Fires, Safety and the World of the Public Information Film

Back in the days of the Banana Splits and Rainbow competing on the telly-box, kiddywinks would be treated to the shock of the Public Information Film. Usually sandwiched between Tom & Jerry or a programme featuring how to make a bird-house out of sticky-back plastic, and sometimes shown in schools, the public information film or PIF was commissioned by the UK government to strike fear into youngsters that the world was not as safe and lovely as it seemed.

In these films, the countryside, instead of a place of frolicking and daisy chains, was actually a potential death-trap with farm machinery monsters angrily chugging unattended, enormous grain silos yawning open and ready to swallow the hapless victims, and silent grey ghost infested lakes hungry for lost children. The home was a place where a gas heater was a potential flame-thrower, chip pans were lethal incendiary devices and an inferno was just a smoking match away. But let’s not even start about railways, discarded fridges and …. strangers.

For those of us who witnessed these films first-hand they probably would have made an indelible mark. There was Charley the cartoon cat who gave advice in cat language to a boy named Tony, for which Charley got the reward of a fish, but that was tame compared to dramas featuring hapless nippers meeting their fate. Who can forget the film ‘Apache’ where a bunch of friends waiting for a birthday party to begin get picked off one by one in the most horrible way as they played in a farmyard, just as mum and dad are pricking cheese and pineapple with cocktail sticks and laying knives and forks on a tablecloth – seemingly oblivious to the carnage outside. Or schoolboy ‘Andy’ ignoring mum’s orders and attempting to light a gas fire with a match which then gets out of control and burns all his Beano comics. And then there was ‘Electricity Football’ about the dangers of playing near power stations and electricity pylons – never looked at the same way since there was the lasting image with smoke rising out of a pair of trainers, which gave no doubt as to the fate of the boy who kicked a ball inside an electricity sub-station.

These films were in the days when children would go ‘out’ to play – all day. Dad was probably at work full-time and mum had a mountain of housework to do. But still, nowadays during these school holidays it might be worth reminding your children ‘gently’ that some behaviour could be dangerous and to never play with matches. Thank you Charley!

For all your fire safety needs including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire risk assessments and fire alarms contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

It’s an uphill battle for Fire Control as the Lava flows in Hawaii

One of the most destructive natural phenomena is happening right now in the Pacific. Big Island, part of the islands of Hawaii, is home to the Kilauea volcano which has been rumbling on for about a fortnight. But now eruptions have reached a peak with shards of rock and toxic fumes billowing into the atmosphere creating a lethal cocktail of poisonous air and destruction of everything in its wake.

There is no point in trying to prevent the flow from a volcano, as nothing will work against the path of the molten rock and fire. Homes, workplaces and treasured possessions have been swallowed as the volcano continues to spew. Over 35 properties have been destroyed in its relentless flow and all the fire authorities can do is to clear up after the event. Toxic fumes stick around though, and this has made fire control so much more difficult. Although the volcano cannot be stopped, attempts have been made in the past to divert volcanic flow into the sea to protect harbour areas, but mixing lava with seawater can be a lethal combination and the resulting gasses can create more problems.

In movement, the mesmerising flow of the lava may look like a sticky syrup, but its consistency is more like cement and when it cools it hardens as rock, which makes the aftermath so much more challenging. Some homeowners have needed a lot of persuasion to leave their properties … after this drama is over, it will be a huge clear up operation for the people of Hawaii.

For all your fire safety needs including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire risk assessments and fire alarms contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

Fire at Bristol Hospital

The Oncology and Haematology Departments at Bristol Royal Infirmary were severely affected last week as a fire was discovered on the ground floor. Over 50 patients, some due for surgery, were evacuated and out-patient services were affected. The fire started early morning and was dealt with, thanks to the swift thinking of staff. It would appear that the origin was an electrical fire, and this caused extensive smoke damage throughout the building, which is situated next to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

After a fire breaks out in a hospital environment, things are clearly more complicated. At the Bristol Royal Infirmary neighbouring NHS hospitals rallied round to offer their services to the patients that were evacuated. But after the fire is out, getting a building back to the state where it can be used by the public is difficult enough. In a hospital the work to restore it involves a mountain of tasks including securing a reliable power source, cleaning the building from top to bottom, ensuring infection control procedures are in place, and checking and recalibrating complex machinery. This, all before patients can be re-admitted for vital and complicated procedures in the best environment possible.

We hope things are back to normal soon. For all your fire safety needs including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire risk assessments and fire alarms contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

A barbecue of nightmares

Firefighters have issued safety warnings after a spate of barbecue fires over the bank holiday weekend. During an almost unprecedented few days of wall-to-wall sunshine many householders and caterers decided to dust off the barbecue for the first time in 2018. But as the burgers sizzled and the beers were downed there were a few incidents in the UK that were the stuff of nightmares.

In Manchester a house was gutted when the barbecue was left to smoulder out of sight. Melting a plastic gazebo, then a garden sofa, the fire spread to destroy UPVC patio doors, the out of control blaze then shot up the stairs and ended up in the loft. The residents, shocked at how quickly the fire had spread, tried in vain to quell it with buckets of water. Firefighters were finally called out and they did their best to minimise damage, but it was too late, and the house was gutted. Luckily no one was hurt.

In Cornwall, residents and holidaymakers were put at risk by multiple bin and skip fires over the weekend. Firefighters were called to several fires in Cornwall including New Polzeath, Par Beach and Fowey. It appeared that the fires had started when smouldering barbecues were discarded in bins or skips. The risk of a fire in a skip full of rubbish is obvious as if a match were to ignite it but throwing a still smouldering barbecue in a bin would have the same effect, melting the plastic container and burning into any rubbish already in the bin creating a large bonfire as a result.

Always be aware of your surroundings when using a barbecue and keep it away from anything flammable. A lit barbecue should never be left unattended. Any hot ash can be a smouldering fire even though no flame is apparent. Never take a barbecue indoors or in a tent. After the cooking is over a barbecue must be extinguished fully until cold, it is best to dispose a single-use barbecue the following day when you can check it is fully out.

For all your fire safety needs including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire risk assessments and fire alarms contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

Its Mayday and there’s something you need to do

Today is the 1st of May, and all over the world people will be marking the day with celebration, dancing, and ritual.

In the UK, traditionally, there is maypole dancing. Lots of colourful ribbons adorn the top of a vertical long pole or young tree, and people skip around it. Each person holding onto a ribbon, they sometimes skip in the same direction, sometimes in alternating directions, weaving in and out of each other, holding the ribbons. This creates a lattice pattern on the pole, all the colourful ribbons woven together until they almost cover the pole. The origins of the tradition emerge from the Beltane festival in the UK and Walpurgis in Germany. In Pagan times the Maypole dance was a fertility rite to symbolize the start of the summer season, to bring about fruits and a good harvest.

But today also being the start of the month of May means that it is time to test your smoke detector, so get the step-ladder out and test it now. You don’t need to dance around it, and there is no mystery if it doesn’t work … you probably just need new batteries.

For all your fire safety needs including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire risk assessments and fire alarms contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.