South Africans prioritise security over fire safety at home

8 November 2016
South Africans tend to focus exclusively on security, ignoring equally vital areas such as fire safety in the home, where electrical fires are the most common sources of outbreaks. Here ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk highlights what residents should be on the outlook for.

Fire-safety checks are essential to eliminate or reduce the risk of fire breaking out in a home. This comprises an on-site assessment in the home environment in order to establish where the risks are, and then to develop and implement specific fire-safety solutions.

“The biggest concern for home owners is the misperception that it is never going to happen to me. Due to this erroneous belief, many home owners are not educated when it comes to fire safety,” van Niekerk comments.

Electrical sources are the leading causes of home fires. Fires caused by heating sources such as heaters, irons and stoves or ovens are also a major culprit. “The common-sense approach to fire safety in the home means operating electrical equipment and extension cords safely, and minimising any fire risk such as not leaving cooking oil on a hot stove,” Van Niekerk points out.

“The most lethal aspect of a fire is smoke, as it only takes a few breaths in a smoke-filled room to kill a human being. Unfortunately, people tend to focus only on security, rather than also on preventing fires in South African homes,” he argues.

Multi-plug extensions cause fires when overloaded, as a higher current is drawn through the adaptor cord that what it is designed to carry. This may result in the overloaded wiring overheating and causing the plastic insulation to catch fire. Plugging in numerous appliances on the same adaptor also means that the maximum current will be exceeded.

Van Niekerk adds that there are numerous actions that home and business owners can take to prevent fires. Testing the earth leakage on the distribution board (DB) at least once a month by pressing the ‘TEST’ button is a simple, yet seldom-practiced, preventative measure.

The earth leakage is designed to trip the electrical supply and de-energise the circuit when there is a short circuit. A faulty earth leakage will not trip when there is a short, resulting in the electrical cables overheating like a toaster, causing the plastic insulation to burn and resulting in a preventable fire.

Every DB in the home should include an earth leakage and suitably-rated circuit breakers, which protect electrical circuits from damage should there be an overload. Most home owners believe that the circuit breaker will indicate an overloaded circuit. However, they do not take into account the electrical load on a single plug point.

It is also vital to ensure every home has a fire extinguisher, and that every family member knows how to use it. Fire extinguishers are available from retailers in 9 kg, 4.5 kg, 2 kg and 1 kg cylinders. The bigger the extinguisher, the better suited it is to putting out a fire of any size. A 3 litre water-mist extinguisher equates to a 4.5 kg DCP (Dry Chemical Powder) extinguisher, while a 6 litre water-mist extinguisher equates to a 9 kg DCP extinguisher. The key difference here is that water-mist extinguishers are far more effective in putting out fires and cooling the ignition points and the surfaces around the affected area.

All fires can be separated into different categories, depending on the type of fuel that is burning, such as plastic, metal or wood. A water-mist fire extinguisher is not only effective for various types of fires, but is not harmful to humans or the environment. CO2 extinguishers or DCP fire extinguishers, on the other hand, limit vision in a confined space or room, in addition to having negative health and environmental effects on people, pets and on the surrounding area.

A water-mist extinguisher works by cooling the fire down, turning heat into cool steam. It disperses high-energy microscopic water-mist particles through its nozzle to suppress fires. It is safe enough to be used in any area, creating a protective shield to help you and your family get past a hot environment in order to reach safety.

Fire extinguishers require servicing at least once a year, through a registered fire servicing company. The water-mist extinguisher is more costly, but requires a cheaper annual service when compared to a DCP extinguisher.

Lastly, Van Niekerk stresses the importance of the ‘PASS’ acronym when it comes to operating fire extinguishers: ‘Pull’ the fire pin, then ‘Aim’ at the bottom of the fire to extinguish the burning product, ‘Squeeze’ the extinguisher and ‘Sweep’ to cover all sides. Every family member should memorise and practice this drill.

As an accredited fire-risk management and support provider, ASP Fire provides a holistic, proactive and preventative total solutions approach to fire safety. The consultancy designs integrated fire-risk assessments, as well as providing training and advice on the installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems that meet all necessary regulations and standards.

“We provide fire risk consulting and rational design, as well as fire suppression and detection solutions for both home and industrial markets. We do not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Our solutions are specifically customised and tailored according to every client’s requirements,” van Niekerk concludes.

Ends

Notes to the editor
To download hi-res images for this release, please visit http://media.ngage.co.za and click the ASP Fire link to view the company’s press office.

About ASP Fire
ASP Fire operates across the entire African continent from its Gauteng base, providing professional, accredited fire-risk management and support to its clients. It designs, installs and maintains a full range of fire detection and suppression equipment suited to its customers’ specific needs. It provides holistic, proactive and preventative fire solutions based on integrated fire risk assessment, training and consulting, along with the installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems that meet SABS, NFPA, FPASA, FDIA and SAQCC standards.

ASP Fire Contact Details
Michael van Niekerk
CEO
Phone: (011) 452 2169
Cell:
Email:
Web: www.aspfire.co.za

Media Contact
Nomvelo Buthelezi
NGAGE Public Relations
Phone: (011) 867 7763
Fax: 086 512 3352
Cell: 083 408 8911
Email: nomvelo [at] ngage [dot] co [dot] za
Web: www.ngage.co.za

Browse the NGAGE Media Zone for more client press releases and photographs at http://media.ngage.co.za

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PreviewFire-safety checks are essential to eliminate or reduce the risk of fire breaking out in a home.469.79 KBDownload
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