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A Near Miss

Our Fire Safety activities have been prompted by a lucky escape that recently happened to a client who runs their business from home. This fire was quickly put out – but things could easily have been very different.

This client has an office in the conservatory of their home, shared by the family of four.

The mother, father and son work in the family business, while the daughter is currently studying at university.

We had undertaken a ’Lone Working and Working from Home’ assessment of the clients’ work areas just three weeks before this incident occurred – and Fire Safety was a key point, but the advice and recommendations were not put into practice.

The Home Office is used for Accounts and Documentation to support the business, and they have a fully installed fire detection and alarm system, water and CO2 manual extinguisher’s properly positioned and designated fire and emergency escape routes towards the front and rear of the premises.

The incident happened on a Sunday morning shortly after the family had finished breakfast, and the father and son had left to visit a potential client.

The mother was in the office doing paperwork and the daughter was upstairs in her bedroom when the fire alarm activated.

The mother headed for the kitchen where she could smell burnt toast, and found bagels stuck in the toaster, and flames reaching out of the toaster to the underside of the wall cupboards above. The daughter also came down, but the flames prevented them from switching off the toaster at the wall.

The mother picked up a pair of oven gloves and pushed the toaster along the worktop so she could reach the wall socket before the fire spread.

When she looked in the toaster, she found two of the four halves of bagel stuck down inside.

The daughter admitted putting the cut bagels in and switching the toaster on as she went upstairs to her room.

The fire risk posed by the toaster and microwave positioned underneath wooden wall units was identified during the “Lone Working and Working from Home” inspection. In the event of fire, flames could rise up and ignite the underside of the units above. We strongly recommended that they should be pulled out from underneath the wall units, and that all members of the household and visitors be instructed in fire safety issues and observations.

Luckily, on this occasion there was nothing more than a little smoke damage to the underside of the wall units and possibly a new toaster.

However, the daughter admitted that she was listening to music with headphones on and it was only in a quiet passage of music that she heard the fire alarm. It is possible that had the loud music continued for longer, the fire could have got hold and become more serious before she was alerted.

No real damage, no one injured, all concerned really lucky – ON THIS OCCASION!

Useful links for further reading

Fire Safety in the Home

Fire – Make your home safe

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