Inside the world of the fendersmith

In these days of central heating and gas fires, having an open fire is more of a luxury as a living room focal point rather than a necessity to heat a room. If you have an open fire you will probably know the tasks required every time you want to light it, keeping an eye on it whilst it is alight … and then the clearing of ash, and sweeping up after it goes out. You may also have a basket for logs or coal, and tools for poking, rolling, placing logs to enable them to burn more efficiently.

You may have a fender for the fire to sit in, and a guard to stop the fire spitting out into living spaces, a small shovel to remove ash. And on top of all that the chimney needs regular sweeping.

But in the world of the royal family things are on a much larger scale. One of the royal palaces, Windsor Castle has 300 fireplaces and has its own dedicated person to maintain the fenders, as well as to light the fires and clear and maintain them. Known as a fendersmith, he even has his own signature tune, played by bagpipe: “Salute to Willie the Royal Fendersmith”, and members of the same family have been royal fendersmiths for many generations.

The job of a fendersmith would appear to be unique in the UK … there aren’t many people who have that many fireplaces in one dwelling, but we are sure the royal fendersmith has his work cut out at Windsor Castle. For all your fire safety needs including fire risk assessments, installation and maintenance of fire alarms, smoke alarms, extinguishers, fire blankets and fire safety training for your staff contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

Fire Paan – India’s hottest street food trend

If you love your tandoori spicy and your vindaloo on the phall side then it might just be tempting, and a bit mad, to want to travel to the streets of Delhi where the latest food trend is taking off. Paan traditionally is a preparation combining betel leaf with areca nut and is popular in India and South Asia. Traditionally the leaf is served wrapped around various preparations and has a chewy consistency which many Indians believe can freshen breath and help with digestion. Paan is so popular it is often served at weddings and feasts and fillings such as rose petals, cloves, coconut powder and fennel, with real silver accents that makes them look very attractive.

But this paan is different. Served by specialist street paanwhallers, it is a delicacy not for the faint-hearted. After preparation using ingredients such as chuna, chutney, Delhi masala, chocolate and pudina, the flame is lit using liquid clove. Still alight, the paan is fed to the customer, only the closing of his or her mouth to extinguish the fire. Paanwhallers claim that the fiery treat cleanses the throat.

But authorities in India are on full alert to tell punters that this delicacy may in fact contain toxic materials, and the ‘cleansing’ might be actually ‘stripping’ and even aggravating to things such as ulcers. Not to mention the risk of getting a burnt nose and mouth in the process of eating fire. Still, the fire paans remain popular … with those who like their fancies a little hot. For all your fire safety needs, including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire blankets contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

Smoke Gets in your Eyes

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
I of course replied,
“Something here inside
Cannot be denied”

They said someday you’ll find
Your smoke alarm may bind
When your place is on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes

So, I called out some lovely chaps
And they arrived in smart vans
They flew around and fixed some things
With brand new stuff and grins

Now worries fly away
So I smile and say,
“When a flame arrives,
Look after your lives
Smoke gets in your eyes”

Happy Valentine’s Day. For all your fire safety needs, including smoke alarms, contact us at Bath & West Fire & Safety.

Family left Homeless after Tumbling Tea Towels. What are the alternatives?

We have written before about the problems with faulty tumble dryers, and there are incidences almost daily as to a faulty tumble dryer catching fire. But in London, a family was left homeless, all because of their tumble dryer and it wasn’t even faulty. What happened? After tumbling a pile of tea towels at a very high temperature, the householder opened the appliance door but found the contents too hot too handle, so she left the door open for the towels to cool. Trouble is, opening the door let in a huge waft of oxygen and this, coupled with the hot, dry cotton, created a spark. And a house fire only needs one spark, and this is what happened. A tumble dryer, even when not faulty can be dangerous.

So, what are the alternatives for safe drying of clothes without a tumble dryer, especially in winter. It is important to remember four rules for drying fabrics: agitation, heat, humidity and time. Starting with agitation, give your fabrics an extra spin in the washing machine, this will remove more moisture, or alternatively roll delicates in a towel, which should absorb moisture. Heat: setting up a drying rack with plenty of air to circulate near a heat source (not on it) will help the moisture evaporate and bring about drying. Humidity release: the moisture has got to go somewhere, and you don’t want your stuff smelling damp or excess moisture affecting your breathing so make sure wherever you dry your clothes they are not in bedrooms or living rooms, make sure there is plenty of air to circulate around the damp fabrics. Finally, drying clothes, sheets and towels outside on a sunny and windy day, even if it is winter will provide agitation, humidity and time, so its worth a try, especially on a breezy day a lot of washing can get ready for airing. Or, get everyone to use their garments, sheets and towels just a little bit longer before chucking in the laundry basket – difficult maybe!

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