It can sweep through a home or business killing people within seconds with toxic fumes and destroying everything within minutes.
Even a relatively short delay between a fire starting and its detection can be enough to cost lives.
Many homeowners never wake up when a fire starts because the fumes kill them while they are asleep.
Employees can become trapped in building because they find out about a fire too late.
In a private residential home it pays to have smoke detectors fitted and by having them as part of the main alarm system you can be alerted by your phone even when you are out. Time is of the essence with fires.
In the workplace there are strict laws governing how fire risks should be assessed and severe consequences if someone dies as a result of inadequate precautions – including not having alarms designed, installed, commissioned and maintained by approved suppliers (complying with BS5839).
The workplace includes cases where you have paying guests – eg if you run a bed and breakfast, guest house or let self-catering property.
If you have more than 5 employees or a place where people sleep (e.g hotel or B&B) or congregate (e.g shops and churches) you need to carry out a proper fire risk assessment – or have one done on your behalf by someone competent. Insurance companies often insist on alarms being fitted but ultimately the owner is held accountable if they have been negligent and failed to take adequate precautions to prevent loss of life or property.