Reptile Forums banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I consider myself a very lucky man this morning. Last night a small fire started in the animal room in my house whilst i was out giving a reptile talk. My other half was in the house and with the help of a neighbour managed to put it out. We think it it started when a heat mat (adhesive type) attached to the side of my tree frog tank overheated and melted. It would appear that the black connector at the end of the black cord has gone on fire then burnt the heat mat to crisp right up the middle. The burning charring plastic then dripped onto my chameleon tank below and set that alight. By the time the fire was detected 3 to 4 inch flames were licking off the top of the chameleon tank onto the exo terra frog tank above it. As i had been in the room 30 minutes before my partner smelt smoke the whole thing seems to have happened very quickly. I am being totally honest here and yes i will make safety changes immediately. I have contacted an electrician as a precaution to check the circuitry and am getting a fire officer to do a risk assessment. I can't recall seeing many articles on here about fire hazards and I never thought it would happen. With so heat elements, wood and substrate which is easily ignitable, i realise that my herp room could be a disaster waiting to happen.

I have a fairly large selection of 25 to 30 exotic animals (mostly snakes and lizards), but have probably been much too complacent about safety. Yes i take responsibility that i should have had a smoke alarm in this room (and am getting one today). However this is only useful when there is someone in the house, when empty then a potential fire would take hold very quickly. 80% of my tanks are thermostated with heating bulbs, only a couple of tanks with heat mats are not thermostated. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to how we can ensure this never happens again? If it had happened a few hours later we would both have been in bed and the whole thing could have been much worse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
890 Posts
Omg glad everyone and everything is ok! Your right though this could happen to any of us but I am not sure what we can do as an extra precaution other than have sprinkler systems installed at huge expense so i am curious to see what other responses come of this thread as it you so rightly said it could happen to anyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,153 Posts
I'm assuming that the mat that over heated was one that wasn't on a stat?

How scary... are all the animals ok??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi all,
Thanks for the punctual responses and being repestful with your comments. Yes the animals are all ok thanks, except for a bit of smoke inhalation unfortunately. I luckily had a lot of them at the reptile talk that i was doing. No the heat matt on the side of the tree frog tanks is a medium sized one and wasn't thermostatted. To be honest, the safety of my other half comes massively higher than the herps to the point that i would get rid of the collection if i thought the same situation might repeat itself.
Yes i am unsure Riley as to the safety measures that other herp keepers employ and would also be keen to learn from them. I to thought of sprinklers then excluded them on the grounds of electrical fires developing. I was just wandering with many of us herp keepers giving the majority of the focus to animal welfare, if the animal room safety might be secondary. Also the ramifications on insurance pay outs might be huge if the correct safety measures were not adhered to. Thanks for all your time and help.

Ross
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
229 Posts
I'd look into one of those fire alarms that calls the fire brigade immediately and a fire door. This will mean it won't be set of accidentally (I doubt you ever have any smoke in your rep room) and will get a quick response. Other than that I would suggest getting a stat on everything. Glad everything/everyone is fine and I will be having a good check of my setup in a minute :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,025 Posts
Thank goodness the damage wasn't worse Ross.
I have made this point before but will make it again.
A thermostat on a faulty heat mat will not stop this happening. It sounds like the mat has had a failure- probably a short circuit of some sort. The smoke and damage to the mat will be very quick and if a thermostat was attached it would have done nothing to stop this happening.
I would say that there are far too many poor quality mats that are made in China on the market. Everyone seems to be selling them! You only have to look on various threads on here to find them.
These are always the printed types of element and a quick search on this forum will raise a number of posts to this effect.
A good quality heat mat will run- without a thermostat- for ever! It will not fail just because it isn't attached to a thermostat. It is made to reach a safe temperature and no higher. That is not, however to say that you shouldnt use a thermostat!
Stick to the old style of carbon impregnated cloth heat mats. These are so much better and, in millions sold, I have never heard of a fire having been caused by one!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,952 Posts
I always back up everything, all on stats, all have digital thermometers & also smoke alarms fitted in both rep rooms.
I also do not used heatmats, I know everything is a risk but I have found more problems with mats shorting out stats and overheating.

Glad your all ok.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,586 Posts
Speaking as somone whos had a fire in thier reptile room before it is extremely sceary. about 4 years ago It happend while we were in bed and even with the fire alarm going off i woke up but stupidly rolled over and went back to sleep. was only due to my ex waking me and telling me to take my son and phone the fire brigade that we got out. It was started thanks to 13amp fuse wire in the circuitry and 32amp fuses in the trip box of the house so when the electric surged it burnt the wire before the fuse tripped. Although the fire started in that room and completely trashed 80% of it and my kitchen also the reps were ok and like you i consider myself incredibly lucky not to have lost any of my animals, cats, dogs, lizzards and reps. Now i am really funny about electrics. I turn stuff off at night, everything is stated and i use the surge towers as extra protection. I really feel for you but its good to know you and your family all got out safely. Good luck sorting everything out : victory:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
take a look at this mate http://www.reptileforums.co.uk/forums/snakes/174166-do-i-really-need-thermostat.html

BUT, even the 'stats can go faulty at times :bash:
I remember someone posting a thread a while back trying to highlight the need for a thermostat. She said that her thermostat failed so the heat mat overheated and her animals died from overheating showing what can happen when you don't have a thermostat.

But to me this just proves that thermostats aren't perfect. Yes they are a good idea to stop over heating but they can develop faults just like the mats they are protecting can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,925 Posts
I agree that stats should always be used, but they are not failsafe. In this instance, the fault appears to have started in the connector. By the time this affected the stat it would have been too late.

Stats, regular inspection and a smoke detector are minimum requirements. Whilst inspecting, don't forget to check wires and connectors and also touch the outsides. They shouldn't get hot except where the heating element is.

Glad all turned out as well as it did, by the way!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,213 Posts
I'm glad you've taken measures now, I expect it's as it wasn't statted it was allowed the oppurtunity to overheat. I think this thread has inspired me, I'm going to get a smoke alarm in my rep room asap.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,025 Posts
I agree that stats should always be used, but they are not failsafe. In this instance, the fault appears to have started in the connector. By the time this affected the stat it would have been too late.
Stats, regular inspection and a smoke detector are minimum requirements. Whilst inspecting, don't forget to check wires and connectors and also touch the outsides. They shouldn't get hot except where the heating element is.
Glad all turned out as well as it did, by the way!
And buy better quality heat mats!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks all for taking the time to give me hugely constructive advice. Yep i take full responsibility for not statting it and this would have helped to stop a big increase in temp. Also i see if the heat mat was faulty, then the stat would have been immaterial in this case. I will get a smoke alarm immediately. I am so glad hissy missy that you were all ok also. the main concern my partner has is that if there had ben no-one home then a smoke detector would have been beeping to itself and the house would have been well alight before anyone noticed. She is now more than a little paranoid about leaving the house...!! I will check with the fire brigade about an alarm that goes straight to the station but i'm not sure that they would let us have one as I thought these would be reserved for schools etc when there is a risk of greater loss of life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,668 Posts
You can also buy electric fire extinguishers from Argos for £20 I think...
Glad you caught the fire in time and glad the animals are okay, you have been strangely fortunate.

A fire extinguisher, thermostat Everything! smoke alarms is all anyone can do.

Incase of an event, maybey it would be worth having some spare pillow cases and sacks with the tanks labelled for the fire services incase they ever are called due to an accident, they will make an attempt to save the animals if they are sure they are not in danger.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,381 Posts
What was the make of the heat mat, if I may ask?
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top