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Fire Safety - Hose Reels

Many large buildings have in-built fire hose reels which can be used to tackle fires. These hoses can deliver a much greater volume of water per second than single fire extinguishers, which means there is a much better chance of putting a fire out in a reduced amount of time, thereby limiting the potential damage to property and health of those in the premises or nearby. Hose reels will usually be connected to the mains water supply which means they will provide water for as long as necessary when tackling a blaze, unlike a hand-held extinguisher which only has a finite amount of water in it and therefore a limited use.

Whilst they provide a practically unlimited supply of water and a much more powerful jet of water, there are also a number of disadvantages of fire hose reels. For a start, this powerful jet of water can in some circumstances cause embers to be disturbed and spread the fire. Also, the fact that it is water that comes out of the hose means that it will not be suitable to be used on certain types of fires such as electrical fires.

Fire hose reels are typically quite heavy, cumbersome affairs which means a significant amount of effort may be required in order to get the hose from where it is stored to the site of the fire. It may be difficult for some people to manoeuvre and use the hose, although if this is the case it may also be difficult for them to lift and carry a fire extinguisher also.

The large volume of water that comes out will mean that it needs a fairly thick hose to carry it. Not only does this make it heavy as mentioned in the paragraph above, but it can also present a trip hazard as it lies on the floor. In the event of a fire, particularly a large one, people are likely to be hurrying about as they evacuate or perform their particular fire roles, which means they may not be paying full attention to what is on the floor. It is also possible that smoke from the fire has reduced visibility. In either case there is a real risk of them tripping over the hose. Not only can this lead to serious injury, but can also be potentially deadly if for example the person trips, hits their head and becomes unconscious with nobody else around (e.g. if the person using the hose has decided to evacuate the building and left the hose on the floor), as they may then be consumed by the flames or overcome by smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.

Aside from being a trip hazard, the hose itself also has other factors which need to be considered. As it is connected to the mains the hose will only have a certain length to which it can be unfurled. This means that if the fire is further away than the hose can stretch then it will not be of any use unless the jet of water can reach the fire. It may also need to be taken through fire doors, which will then not be able to close fully. This will leave gaps for the fire to exploit and allow it to spread more easily than if the fire doors were properly shut.

Related Courses:

  • SMSTS - The Site Management Safety Training Scheme certificate contains a section on fire safety on a construction site.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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