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Fire and heat policy

A picture of a smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms

RoSPA supports the installation of smoke alarms in every home and recommends the use of optical (photoelectric) alarms; hard-wired where possible. Currently only new dwellings have to be fitted with hard-wired detectors under the Building Regulations. 1

RoSPA would like there to be a requirement for hard-wired alarms to be fitted at the time of refurbishment or rewiring in older properties.

If battery operated smoke alarms are to be used, RoSPA recommends sealed units containing long life batteries, which avoid the necessity of changing batteries regularly. Sealed units also prevent the use of the standard battery in other equipment.

For more advice on smoke alarm use, please visit the Directgov smoke alarm advice page.

Cigarette lighters

RoSPA welcomes the European Standard for cigarette lighters BS EN 13869 that incorporates the need for the lighter to be child resistant and labelled as such.

RoSPA would like to see a phasing out of disposable lighters that do not incorporate a child resistant mechanism.

RoSPA would like to see the requirement for cigarette lighters to be child resistant mandatory.

Flammability of clothing

RoSPA welcomes the new European standard BS EN 14878 Textiles - Burning behaviour of children's nightwear. The Specification means that all children's nightwear is now covered by an appropriate standard either through the specific regulations or through general product safety.

Surface temperatures

RoSPA considers that surface temperatures on domestic products permitted by British and European Standards are too high.

RoSPA urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the British Standards Institution and the European Standards Bodies CEN 2 and CENELEC 3 to address the issue of excessively high surface temperatures on all domestic appliances and to base the limits on the harmonized European standard EN 563 4

Chip pans

RoSPA recommends that the safest way to deep fry chips is in a thermostatically controlled freestanding electric deep fat fryer. An alternative method of cooking chips is in the oven.

Cooking food by deep-frying is acknowledged as dangerous. Around 16,000 domestic fires every year start when food, often chips, is being deep fried and about 3,000 people a year are injured.

Residential sprinklers

RoSPA welcomes the current interest in residential sprinklers and recognises the fact that they could make a contribution towards the reduction of deaths in domestic fires.

RoSPA supports the development of recognised standards for residential sprinklers.

RoSPA supports the installation of residential sprinklers in the homes of the most vulnerable people i.e. Houses of Multiple Occupation and residential accommodation for physically and mentally handicapped people.

RoSPA encourages builders to offer house purchasers the option of having a domestic sprinkler installed.

RoSPA supports continued research into the effectiveness of sprinkler systems, such as BRE's report, "Effectiveness of sprinklers in residential premises"


RoSPA welcomes the introduction of user instructions on all candles.

RoSPA recommends that candles that are lit are never left unattended and that they are never positioned in a draft, anywhere near curtains or near any materials, which could ignite.

RoSPA recommends that candles are always used in proper holders or in secure and suitable containers and that debris is not allowed to accumulate after the candle has finished burning.

Evacuation in the case of fire

RoSPA feels that the best advice to give to the public in the event of a house fire is


Some very small house fires can be tackled with a damp tea towel. A damp tea towel has been shown to be more effective than a fire blanket as it can smother the fire more effectively.

RoSPA does not recommend the use of domestic fire extinguishers because they can be difficult to use in a panic situation and not all extinguishers are suitable for all types of fires.

NB This advice applies even when Fire fighters are not working normally.


1 HM Government: The Building Regulations 2010, Approved Document B (Fire safety) Volume 1: Dwellinghouses (2006 Edition) ISBN: 978 1 85946 261 4. Free to download here:
2 European Committee for Standardization
3 European Committee Electro technical Standardization
4 BS EN 563:1994 Safety of machinery - temperatures of touchable surfaces - Ergonomic data to establish temperature limit values for hot surfaces.

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