Fluorescent ballast signs a potential fire risk

Firefighting is as essential part of the role the fire and rescue service play, however that doesn’t mean it’s always in the literal sense. It also relates to fire prevention and protection work. Considering current issues relating to cladding and the importance of the fire and rescue service involvement in building regulations, this is now higher on the national agenda than ever.

Fire Protection officers play a key role in identifying potential fire hazards or fire safety issues in businesses. Sometimes this work is on a local level, but sometimes fire hazards are identified which can impact upon businesses on a national or even international scale.

The most recent protection investigation in Warwickshire involved Fluorescent Ballast signs promoting MoneyGram, which are used in businesses premises across the UK. The investigation began when the Chief Fire Officer, Kieron Amos spotted a Fluorescent Ballast illuminated MoneyGram sign in a window in a local post office. The sign caught his attention as it had scorch marks around the edge, which made him question whether the sign was faulty. Knowing that faulty electrical goods are linked to a growing number of fires, the Chief Fire Officer decided to raise his concerns with the Post Office Manager.

It was following this discussion that it was clear that the business was an international concern and so it was highly likely it would have other stores with similar issues. Armed with this information, it was now down to the Fire Protection Team, who are responsible for auditing and enforcing fire safety legislation to investigate the issue further. During the investigation, it was discovered that the manufacturers of the sign could not evidence that the product met the required British Standard. In response to the potential fire risk the signs could pose, MoneyGram quickly undertook a programme to replace all the faulty signs in their UK stores. To date, they have already replaced over 2,000 of the old signs with new BS-CE marked LED lights.

This is a real achievement for all involved and has ensured that a potential national fire risk has been resolved swiftly, thanks to our Fire Protection team with the cooperation from MoneyGram and the Post Office.

It also highlights the importance of being vigilant and is a great example of how one small action can have a significant impact on the safety of residents and businesses across the UK.

Talking about the investigation, Chief Fire Officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Kieron Amos said:

“These types of signs are generally safe, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be treated the same as any other electrical item and any fire risks that can be associated with them. I am very proud of the work fire and rescue services undertake nationally to ensure that communities remain safe and I am proud that our Fire Protection Team were able to act quickly to respond to a potential fire risk which extended to signs displayed around the UK.

“If a business is in doubt of whether their Fluorescent Ballast signage is fire complaint, I would urge them to check the sign for any scorch marks or burns and to contact the manufacturer or their local fire and rescue service for more advice.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Fire and Community Safety, Andy Crump added:

“This is a great example of how the fire and rescue service works to protect the communities it serves. It also shows that the fire service is much more than just putting out fires, prevention and protection play a huge role and I am very proud of the work of all of the team here in Warwickshire for responding so quickly, and working with those involved to bring a swift resolution to the issue.”