Fire safety advice issued to householders
THE LEADING trade association for the oil fired heating and cooking industry, OFTEC, joined with a Northern Ireland manufacturer in highlighting the recent incidence of fires, including an incident in Randalstown, involving home heating oil tanks and warned householders to ensure fire safety is given due consideration when it comes to installing and protecting oil tanks.
The warning from the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) and its local member Chimcoat follows a serious, high profile fire in Newtownards, County Down earlier this year and incidents in Dundonald and Randalstown in recent weeks.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) believe the fire in Newtownards was started maliciously in an oil tank. The fire resulted in several people being treated for smoke inhalation and destroyed a number of houses, cars and gardens. One resident also suffered burns to his chest and hands. Fire-fighters were faced with flowing oil that was alight and could have spread to other properties.
Approximately 68% of homes in Northern Ireland use heating oil as their primary heating source oil, rising to 82% in rural areas - the largest percentage in Western Europe. In the last 5 years, oil tank fires have caused substantial damage to properties across Northern Ireland.
John Doyle from Belfast-based fire panel manufacturer Chimcoat, commented: “The fire in Newtownards highlighted the very real and dangerous threat of unprotected oil tanks. In this particular incident, we learned from the fire crew that a neighbouring property had fitted a fire panel and that this was instrumental in halting the spread of the fire still further. It’s prompted us to issue a strong reminder of fire safety to homeowners, landlords, trade and those responsible for projecting residents using oil-fired central heating.”
“We are working with associations such as OFTEC to remind the trade of its obligations in this area. In addition, we will also be speaking to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Local Council Building Control Services to highlight Section J of Northern Ireland’s Building Regulations which provides clear instructions with regards to the protection and positioning of oil tanks. The regulations state that, when required, a minimum 30 minute fire-resistant wall which extends at least 300mm above and beyond the ends of an oil tank should be installed.”
“Last year in Northern Ireland, there were over 12,000 deliberately-set fires and these have impacted urban and rural areas alike, with NIFRS responding to a total of 3,897 gorse fires. It is particularly important that householders across Northern Ireland take preventative measures to protect themselves, their neighbours and their properties from fire.”
David Blevings, OFTEC said: “We have been campaigning for many years to make householders aware of the safety benefits of having their oil heating system installed correctly. The key messages are safety and efficiency, with a recommendation oil storage tanks should conform to current good practice for safety standards and this includes the use of fire safety panels. Householders should also ensure they use OFTEC Registered Technicians to install and service oil-fired heating systems.”
As well as the human risk, an unprotected oil tank can cause substantial damage to property if set alight. Government statistics estimate the average cost of damage caused by a house fire is £25,000. To avoid the risks, OFTEC advises that householders should have their oil tank and fittings inspected by a suitably-qualified competent person at least once a year to check for leaks, damage or defects.
John Doyle, Chimcoat, added: “Our purpose-built fire panels are manufactured at our company headquarters in Belfast and are available to purchase directly. They have been designed to meet the requirements of the regulations and are adaptable to accommodate a variety of tank, garden and site sizes.”
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Weather for Antrim
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
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Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
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