How to do DIY

4 Fire Safety Considerations For Your Next Projects

Fire safety is a big deal for all homeowners – last year there were over 192,000 fires, causing almost £1.5bn in property damage alone. We all do our best to avoid the risks, whether it's no overloading extension leads or keeping an eye on candles, but could we be doing more before we've even settled in to a property?

From new builds to smaller extensions, there are plenty of key considerations that can be made during the all-important planning and construction phases which can help improve fire safety immeasurably. It doesn't matter if you're a relative novice in the world of DIY, or you're experienced in extensions, all of these tips apply – and might save your life.

Fire Safety Tips

1. Stemming the Fire's Spread
Statistically, becoming overcome by smoke is the leading cause of fatalities in any fire – so it's important to stem the spread of both fire and smoke, since the threat is less likely to be the actual fire itself, more its effects. The key way to achieve this in a domestic property is utilising fireproofing materials for any walls which aren't brick-based (ie. plasterboard), as well as fitting strong, high quality doors.

In addition to this, door seals around any high risk areas (such as kitchens or home workshops) can also help to especially prevent the spread of smoke. Specialist stores, such as Noberne fire seals, offer the most effective options – Products like this allow for more time to react and more time to escape, and they minimise the most likely fatality scenario of succumbing to smoke inhalation.

2. Structural Heat Transfer
It might be something that you think is a much more important issue for larger commercial projects like industrial properties or high-rise buildings, but it's still crucial for domestic properties as well. The spread of fire, or rather then transfer of heat to key structural components, can quickly result in the loss of structural integrity. If you think fire is going to be a particular risk in the structure your building (or you're constructing a new-build from scratch) then products like fire-resistant mortar can help to ensure key aspects like electrical wiring and gas pipes are protected, the spread of heat is curbed.

3. Methods of Escape
The government's Department For Children, Schools And Families recommends planning methods of escape in the event of a fire during the construction phase, rather than after the fact. In its fire safety document it says: "The design of a building should therefore be analysed, part by part, in order to determine the danger which might arise from a fire, either in the part where the fire may originate or in any other part to which it may spread."

Always ensure that any larger buildings or smaller connected structures/extensions either have their own escape route (ie. exit) or are easily connected to an existing escape route.

4. Electrical Safety
Not necessarily something that immediately springs to mind when you're thinking of construction considerations, but something that's integral to a building or extension's overall fire safety. The best bet when it comes to electrical safety, particularly if your extension or building will involve water (e.g. a kitchen or bathroom), is to enlist the help of a professional.

Any electrical work in these instances will need to be either carried out by an NICEIC-approved electrician, or be Part-P approved by an inspector – the former is likely to be the most effective but most expensive, whereas the later will likely be more affordable but it depends on your own DIY electrical skills. Check out some of the electrical DIY tips on this website for advice on any areas you might not be familiar with; there's also the UK's Electrical Safety First organisation which gives loads of helpful advice on domestic electrical safety.

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