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What's gone wrong? Quite.

Extinguishers banned as ‘fire risk’ - Times Online

Fire extinguishers may be removed from blocks of flats across Britain after they were deemed dangerous by buildings risk assessors at two blocks on the South Coast.

Many residents regard the distinctive red extinguishers as the first response to fire, giving vital time until professional firefighters arrive.

Residents described the ban as ridiculous. Mike Edwards, a 61-year-old retired printer who lives in Avon House, said: “I was absolutely staggered to discover the fire extinguishers were to be taken out. How can removing fire extinguishers be a safe decision?

“The risk assessor said an extinguisher could cause a hazard if the person using it has not been trained. They are worried they will point it in the wrong direction or use the wrong extinguishers on a certain type of fire but if you are trapped in a burning building, you will certainly work out how to use an extinguisher.

“Our eldest resident is 103 but even she said she could quickly work out how to use an extinguisher in an emergency.”

Excuse me. Are these the very same Britons who tackled incindiary bombs with buckets of sand and with small streams of water from handpumps?

What's gone wrong?

Dennis, Portland OR, US


"What's gone wrong?"

What's gone wrong is that 25% of this country are too dumb to wipe their own arses. These people voted Labour. We are stuck with a bunch of cunts in charge, for whom frankly hanging would be too good...

In general, you can use CO2 extinguishers safely on most fires. It's water based extinguishers which are bad news when used on electrical or chip pan fires. Apart from that, the risks of using extinguishers are negligible compared to the risks of fire.

But more to the point, why haven't these residential blocks been fitted with integrated fire detection and suppression (sprinkler) systems? That way they could switch off the domestic mains voltage, and activate the sprinklers in the fire zone. The systems can be programmed to do that automatically.

I don't reckon multiple occupancy buildings should be allowed a fire certificate without this level of protection.

Having lived in a multiple occupancy dwelling, I can explain why they don't have 'integrated fire detection and suppression (sprinkler) systems'. It is because the bastard fire alarm goes off about twice a week, because they are completely fucking useless and insanely over-sensitive.

I could cook my breakfast in my flat without difficulty. If I had a visitor, cooking two breakfasts would set the fire alarm off. Making toast in a basement flat sets the fire alarm off. Smoking anywhere in the building sets the fire alarm off.

In the end, the residents dismantled the fire alarm (no easy feat, I can assure you). Covering the smoke detectors with gaffer tape was almost as good but resulted in snotty letters from council scum, who, it would appear, have right of entry into your home if you don't like being woken up at all hours by false alarms.

Having a 'integrated fire detection and suppression (sprinkler) system' would mean all your possessions are destroyed on a weekly basis.

Residential sprinklers tend to be initiated by the sprinkler "bulb" bursting under the high temperatures encountered in a real fire. Fire suppression is thus limited to the zone(s) in which the fire has started. Your possessions are only destroyed on a weekly basis if you have a regular day for setting your own furniture ablaze. They are meant to confine, and if possible extinguish, a fire in the zone of origin. You don't get all the sprinklers in the block coming on because of one bulb sensor activating. They have to meet British and European standards.

Smoke detectors are a different matter. They are meant to alert you and save your sorry arse before your flat gets poisonous enough to suffocate you. They are easily triggered out of mischief. I suspect this is what you have encountered, but it is wrong to suppose that a sprinkler system would drench your appartment every time someone lights a candle.

What will ruin all of your belongings, is the smoke from a neighbouring fire that isn't suppressed, and the subsequent water damage from a fire brigade charged line in all it's glory.

Of course, if you are on fire at the time, you probably won't be able to concentrate on your claim for damages...

Hang on, I just read that again:

"In the end, the residents dismantled the fire alarm"

OK, so you are seriously claiming to have colluded in the sabotage of a fire alarm system installed to protect your neighbours? Just so you could burn your toast?

I can't help imagining the tabloid coverage after you supplied this information to an inquest.

Methinks this comes down to the essential difference between two acronyms: BATNIEK and CATNIP.

Monty appears to be talking about BATNEIK (best available technology not incurring excessive cost). The sort of advanced system one finds in office blocks owned by private corporations. Systems that are both high quality and maintained by trained technicians.

Brian on the other hand seems to be refering to the far more common CATNIP (cheapest available technology not incurring prosecution). Cheap, ineffective (if not downright dangerous) and infrequently maintained by untrained chimps.

While the former is the ideal, the latter is the most prevalent. Especially in buildings owned or managed by entities related to the state.


An excellent point, and quite in keeping with modern health and safety law. We (all of us) dismantled the thing because if we hadn't, the building would have safe, but uninhabitable.

Remittance Man,

Thank you for that explanation; I hadn't heard those acronyms before, and they seem to supply the answer.

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