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Cooking up trouble

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Leading manufacturer Kidde argues the case for installing heat alarms in all kitchens – interconnected to smoke alarms elsewhere – and carbon monoxide alarms too

Over 60% of all domestic fires start in kitchens – many accidentally and particularly with chip pans. But there are other less obvious sources as well. There has been a recent spate of extractor units igniting and these should be checked for safety, cleaned and any filters replaced regularly. Other faulty electrical appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers, have also caught fire – particularly dangerous when operating while occupants are asleep at night, perhaps to make the most of low tariff rates.

The latest BS 5839:2013, Part 6: Code of practice now recommends interconnected, hard-wired smoke and heat alarms in the vast majority of existing housing, as well as for all new-builds, covering all escape routes and any areas where fires might start – including kitchens. It is essential to use only heat alarms in kitchens, as they are significantly less likely to give false alarms than smoke alarms, which can be affected by cooking fumes and steam.

Interconnect with Wireless Alarm Base

It is also essential that the heat alarm is interconnected with smoke alarms elsewhere so that all the smoke and heat alarms sound when one is triggered. But there are both practical and aesthetic reasons to avoid interconnect cabling in existing buildings – particularly older properties or those that are still occupied. Here, wireless interconnection is an ideal solution, using Kidde’s Slick Wireless Alarm Base accessory. It simply replaces the standard base plate to interconnect Slick smoke or heat alarms, with each alarm powered from a lighting circuit nearby. This is also useful for extending an existing Slick hard-wired installation and also for use with Kidde’s Remote Test and Hush switch.

Electrical contractors can improve safety, as well as increase business, by recommending heat alarms in all kitchens. And the same is true of carbon monoxide alarms.

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

The main difficulty with CO is that the dangers are often far from obvious and it comes from a surprisingly wide variety of sources. Although rented housing gas heating is checked annually under the Gas Safe regulations, the tenant’s cooker will not be, as it is not the landlord’s property. CORGI Gas Safety has identified cookers as an increasing source of carbon monoxide in rented dwellings, a situation mirrored in owner-occupied homes. There have been several instances of faulty grills on modern cookers causing death and injury. Although Building Regulations requiring CO alarms with installation of heating appliances exclude cookers, there is a strong case for recommending alarms in kitchens.

Either hard-wired mains or whole-life battery CO alarms can be used. Fitting a battery-only CO alarm may be the simplest solution and, of course, battery quality is key to long term, problem-free performance. Here, Kidde’s 10LLCO is the only range of 10-year guaranteed sealed-in battery alarms with CO sensors – the key component – actually tested throughout a 10-year period or longer. Kidde also manufactures its own sensors, allowing tighter quality controls to be applied, giving installers confidence that the CO sensor will work effectively throughout the alarm’s design life. The alarms also have an extra End-of-Life/Fault LED and an alarm sounder designed to protect occupants and installers’ hearing when testing, with an initial lower level of sound being generated.

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