In these strange times and while the sun was shining, I have been able to get into the garden and do some early spring work, e.g. cut the grass, trim the hedges but it got me thinking.
I have recently replaced the tatty wooden shed for a nice new metal one and had a bit of a sort through the equipment and items that were stored in there. An awful lot of the items stored in the shed pose a number of fire safety risks. More often than not sheds containing highly flammable items such as gas cylinders, fuels, chemicals and electrical items that, if not stored correctly, could cause a fire with devastating consequences.
Fire Safety for Garden Sheds
Only just recently Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue were called to a shed fire which spread to a house resulting in 11 fire crews and 5 officers having to attend. A few years ago, a gas cylinder exploded and burnt a shed to the ground and caused two more to catch fire, the reason for this was a small camping gas cylinder that was on the windowsill in direct sunlight which caused the cylinder to heat and then catch alight.
What are the Risks?
There are currently no rules or regulations regarding the protection of a shed or garage, however, they all pose a potential fire risk. Nearly every garage, outbuilding or garden shed will contain various flammable items from household furniture, gas cylinders, fuels, oils and garden equipment, all of which are highly flammable and difficult to extinguish making it essential that they are all stored appropriately thereby minimising the risk of fire.
As homeowners, we are aware of the importance of safety precautions such as smoke detectors, circuit breakers and fire extinguishers within our homes but do we consider the garage, shed or outbuildings.
The same safety precautions that we would use in the home such as smoke detectors are impractical and are unlikely to be heard in the event of a fire unless you install a detector that has wireless connectivity. There are other systems that can be put into place to ensure that sheds and garages present a minimal risk of fire i.e. fire-retardant paint and fire-resistant insulation.
What can we do to reduce the risk of fire?
Here are just a few recommendations that can be followed to make your garage, outbuilding and shed safe from the risks of fire:
- Reduce the risk of deliberate fire and theft by keeping outbuildings and sheds secure. You may want to consider using a security light and/or installing a simple burglar alarm to deter any potential thieves or vandals.
- Always ensure hazardous substances e.g. fuels, oils are stored securely in approved containers.
- Only keep what you need to use. If you have any surplus chemicals that are unlikely to be used before, they expire then dispose of them correctly.
- Take care with electrical items make regular checks to ensure they are operating correctly and that there is no damage to cables. Ensure that you do not overload power sockets and that the main source of power is protected by a circuit breaker.
- Make sure the barbecue has fully cooled before storing them away in the shed, the heat from a still cooling barbecue could easily ignite those flammable substances or materials. Make sure that any bonfires, barbecues or fire pits are located at a suitable distance from the outbuilding or shed. The combination of dry timber walls and floors made more combustible from oils, thinners or fuel that has been spilt on them is easily ignitable.
- Finally, when positioning a shed make sure that if it was to catch fire, it is a suitable distance from any other buildings to avoid spreading fire.
These are just some of the precautions that can be taken to ensure that outbuildings, sheds or garages remain safe from fire. If you are unsure about the safety of your home a home fire risk check by a member of the local fire service community safety team, can be arranged. They will visit your home and offer fire safety advice to keep you and your family safe. We hope you have found our Fire Safety for Garden Sheds article useful.
Until next time… stay safe!