Report highlights fire risks of mobility scooters in residential buildings
A report, commissioned by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), has underlined the importance of safe use, storage and charging of mobility scooters in residential buildings to reduce the risk of fires occurring.
The report, Fire Safety in Specialised Housing, comes after the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, reinforcing the importance of fire safety requirements in residential buildings.
With an ageing population increasing the amount of mobility scooters in circulation, the NFCC’s report highlights the potential risks mobility scooters can pose in residential buildings.
Noting that scooters in a fire can release large volumes of black, toxic smoke and generate significant heat outputs when alight, the guide also identified that scooters can often be stored on escape routes, all together making escapes routes impassable and dangerous.
In particular, the report pointed out that mobility scooter temperatures can reach 375 degrees within three minutes and 556 degrees within eight and a half minutes, with the heat rising exponentially if multiple scooters are on fire.
With 66 percent of scooter fires related to arson, the NFCC also remarked that scooters are often stored outside in an unsecured compound, with result fires spreading to the inside of buildings through windows and doors.
Recognising that the design of many premises, particularly smaller and older premises, does not always lend itself easily to the safe storage and charging of mobility scooters, the NFCC’s study says users often resort to leaving scooters adjacent to their front entrance doors.
This placement can pose another risk for building occupants, placing a significant “fire loading” on escape routes in the event of a fire.
Following the findings, the NFCC’s guide made a number of recommendations for improving and ensuring safety in residential settings, including ensuring escape routes are kept clear, fully risk assessing the storage of scooters and closely adhering to scooter manufacturers’ usage and charging instructions.
In 2016, Lewisham Homes partnered with the London Fire Brigade, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) to examine the effectiveness of residential sprinkler systems on mobility scooter fires.
See the results below: