CDS issues ‘stay safe this Christmas’ message – with advice on fairy lights and trees

The season to be jolly can also be a time for fire hazards – and while not wanting to pour cold water on anyone’s Christmas, CDS is playing the part of a wise Santa and offering a few seasonal safety tips in the run up to the big day.

Its technical team has been talking to fire services across the country to find out what they identify as the biggest seasonal no-nos to ensure householders avoid the issues most likely to cause a domestic blaze.

Top of the list comes the traditional pine-scented real Christmas tree. A dry tree is a hazard and can fill a home with fire and toxic gases with alarming speed if not properly cared for.

When buying a tree, they recommend carrying out two important checks – on the needles and the trunk. On a freshly cut tree, the needles should be hard to pull back from the branches and shouldn’t break. If they do, it has probably been cut down too long ago and dried out – making it a fire hazard.

The trunk should be sticky to the touch. If it’s not, then it’s too old.

They advise not putting the tree up too early or leaving it up for longer than two weeks as it will become overly dry and could catch fire. And it’s absolutely vital to keep it watered at all times. A six-foot tree can devour as much as a gallon of water every other day – so check it frequently. The water isn’t just to keep the tree looking nice – it’s to stop it becoming a perfect combustible material.

Lighting is another potential fire hazard.

LED fairy lights are safer than the traditional alternative because they are cool to the touch and less likely to set fire to flammable Christmas tree decorations. But while the bulbs themselves are safer, the transformer element does get very hot and should never be covered, hidden behind curtains or come into contact with presents piled around the tree.

Missing bulbs on traditional strings of lights actually cause the remaining bulbs to burn hotter,  increasing the risk of fire if they touch a nearby decoration or dried out branch – so they must be replaced. And old flickering lights should be disposed of, however much they remind you of your childhood Christmases.

Fairy lights should be switched off when no-one is around and when the hosuehold goes to bed as an unexpected power surge could see the tree catching fire.

Delicate paper, cardboard or fabric decorations hanging on the tree can also be a hazard if they come into contact with a hot bulb. The same goes for present,s whose wrapping paper represents an easy source of fuel.

Non-tree decorations are another cause for concern. While draping garlands around the fireplace or near candles may look pretty, the risks are evident.

And all fire services offer their year-round reminder that sockets shouldn’t be overloaded and that cooking and drinking alcohol never mix – however much fun it may seem at the time.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has even created its own ‘12 days of Christmas’ fire safety campaign. Daily activities include checking your Christmas lights conform to British Standard BS EN 60598, switching and unplugging your fairy lights off when going out or retiring for the night, and not attaching Christmas decorations to lights or heaters.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “We don’t want to say ‘bah humbug’ this Christmas, but these sensible precautions should help minimise the fire risk. Of course, it’s also important to check your smoke and fire alarms and fire extinguishers – so that if the worst should happen you and your family have time to escape.”

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CDS adds water and energy compliance to its offerings

Fire detection and life safety systems specialist CDS has made its first foray into offering other compliance streams by acquiring a company which specialises in water and energy consultancy.

Harrogate-based Genex joins the broadening CDS stable this week – and offers specialist services such as legionella control, swimming pool management, closed circuit water analysis and treatment, energy audits and Energy Performance Certificates.

The company, which has worked with business and public sector bodies across the UK for 12 years, shares customers and sector expertise with CDS – enabling the new expanded business to offer a one stop shop to customers needing a variety of compliance services.

The university and student accommodation markets are two areas in which both excel, with CDS seeing a growing number of higher education institutions choosing its expertise in an increasingly complex industry.

Genex MD Carl Cressey will remain in post, ensuring continuation of his valuable expertise to the existing client base and offering support to CDS customers wanting to add water and energy to their compliance portfolio,

CDS chairman Simon Cashmore said: “We’re delighted to have added another string to the CDS bow. Our buy and build strategy has thus far seen us acquire other fire safety companies in different areas of the UK to enable us to expand our geographical reach.

“Our investment into Genex is our first step into broadening the compliance streams we offer. We aim to make it easier for facilities managers who need to purchase compliance consultancy in a variety of disciplines. Instead of sourcing fire safety from one company, water quality from another and so on, they can use one expert organisation to provide a number of services.”

Genex MD Carl Cressey added: “It’s very exciting to be joining the burgeoning CDS business. We share so many customers across similar sectors and between us have so much we can offer.”

The latest acquisition follows the purchase earlier this year of Monmouthshire-based Tann Synchronome and Powerpoint Fire Systems (Powerpoint) in Middlesex.

Simon Cashmore and CDS managing director Simon Abley, who acquired CDS last year, were the team behind outdoor services specialist TCL Group. They grew the business 14-fold over 12 years before selling it in 2019. Its expansion was achieved in a similar way – through strategic acquisition of complementary companies to broaden both its geographical reach and service offerings. TCL was named one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe in 2017 by the London Stock Exchange.

  • CDS chairman Simon Cashmore and MD Simon Abley welcome Genex MD Carl Cressey, John Blears and their company to the CDS fold. The acquisition means CDS can now offer water and energy compliance services as well as fire detection and life safety systems expertise.