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Installation of BOC firebreak will save patients from threat of an oxygen stoked fire in home

BOC Gases : 12 September, 2006  (Company News)
A small respiratory device invented by BOC Medical is set to save thousands of oxygen-dependent patients across England and Wales from the threat of house fire.
Each year there are instances of patients accidentally igniting their homecare oxygen systems by, for example, smoking while using oxygen masks and cannulas or catching their plastic tubing on household cookers or other appliances.
While proper use of homecare oxygen systems is a safe and effective therapy, some patients forget or ignore the correct safety precautions. This sometimes leads to an oxygen-fed ignition that can result in damage to property, smoke inhalation, burns, and in some cases, death.

BOC’s FILICLIC firebreak snuffs out the flow of oxygen from medical cylinders and concentrators in the event of fire in the plastic tubing providing oxygen to the patient.

BOC Medical has taken over three years to develop the FILICLIC during which time the company has sponsored a national study headed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to find a robust means of fire prevention in oxygen delivery systems. So effective is the device that the MHRA has directed that all home oxygen equipment throughout England and Wales should be fitted with the FILICLIC or similar device as an integrated safety precaution.

Patented by BOC Medical and manufactured by specialist medical device company BPR, the FILICLIC is the brain-child of BOC homecare manager, Phil East.

Said East: “The real danger in the home is where oxygen patients or their relatives smoke while a mask or cannula is being used. Nobody knows exactly how many oxygen users are smokers, but a great proportion of those at risk will have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a progressive lung disease affecting some 1.5 million people in England and Wales.”

“While smoking is the major threat to oxygen users, less obvious are other ignition sources which patients need to be wary of, including candles, electric or traditional fires and gas hobs in the kitchen.

“Used properly oxygen systems are perfectly safe, but people need to remember to use them responsibly and keep the equipment away from intense heat or any naked flames”.

BOC Medical places great emphasis on patient safety and the safe handling, transport and storage of oxygen cylinders and equipment. House fires involving oxygen equipment are rare and always investigated by BOC technical experts as part of the company’s safety management procedures.

Said East: “Fire brigade photographs and our own tests show that fire follows the flow of oxygen through the tubing to the source where there is a rapid and significant release of oxygen. It is clear that an effective and reliable firebreak is needed to stop any ignition spreading.

“The FILICLIC is the ideal safety solution. By stopping the flow of oxygen immediately it starves the fire, giving patients the chance to extinguish any ignition or get out of their house in one piece.”

The FILICLIC is 60mm long and 15 millimetres wide. The intense heat created by an oxygen fed fire melts a plastic ring in the fire break triggering a ball-valve to close. This cuts off the flow of oxygen immediately. The FILICLIC is also designed to work under normal circumstances to allow flows of oxygen anywhere between 0.2 litres and four litres a minute.

Since February 2006 over 30,000 FILICLIC’s have been installed in patient homes across England and Wales, including the eastern region served by BOC Medical’s home oxygen service, Vitalair.

Said East: “BOC Medical’s first objective has been to install the FILICLIC for high risk patients and thereafter for all patients requiring long term oxygen therapy. With an estimated 44,000 such patients across England and Wales the job is well under way.”

“Despite training and clear advice we can never be completely sure of preventing patients smoking or being close to naked flames in the house when oxygen is being administered. With the FILICLIC we can help prevent injuries, save lives and limit the damage to property.”
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