Unless you have been in the position of having to use one, many people don’t realise just how important fire extinguishers are. As it turns out, they are very important indeed! Most people go about their day to day business hardly noticing or paying any attention to these extremely useful portable fire protection devices.
Often overlooked, even by security and health and safety staff in busy establishments, these extinguishers play a vital role in keeping us all safe. Many people only ever really notice them when used inappropriately as makeshift door-stops!
Business owners and building managers have a specific duty of care to ensure the fire safety of all building occupants, whether they are employees, shoppers or visitors to the premises. Extinguishers are the first line of defence when encountering a fire so they should be readily available, in good working order, easily reached, and also appropriate for the type of fire that is most likely to pose a risk in the immediate environment.
According to the Fire Industry Association it has been identified that around 88% of fires are first tackled with portable fire extinguishers and are actually extinguished as a result. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 the responsible person must provide and maintain appropriate fire-fighting equipment. The responsible person is usually either the business owner, landlord or building manager.
Types of fire extinguishers
You will need to provide suitable fire extinguishers according to certain risk factors. This will basically be the most likely type of fire that would break out in the immediate area. So for example, in a busy kitchen environment there would be a potential fire risk from the cooking oils being used. There are different classifications of fire extinguisher and these classes can help guide you towards their suitability for your particular environment.
Class A extinguishers for example are for fires involving carbonaceous materials such as paper and wood, so this would be better suited for use in a printing factory that handles large amounts of paper. You can find more detailed guidance on what you may consider adequate provision for extinguishers in British Standard BS 5306 Pt.8. As a basic guide there are five different classes to consider:
- Class A fire extinguishers are used to put out small fires on items such as paper, wood, cloth and other textiles.
- Class B fire extinguishers are used for burning liquids such as petrol, cooking oil, kerosene and diesel fuel.
- Class C extinguishers are for flammable gases such as Propane, Butane, Calor Gas and Methane.
- Class D fire extinguishers are used to put out fires for combustible metals such as magnesium, potassium, powdered aluminium, sodium, sodium-potassium alloy uranium, and lithium.
- Class F are used to put out fires that have been caused from cooking oils and are most often found in restaurants and takeaways that uses commercial deep fat fryers.
As well as the above named classes of extinguishers there are two other commonly used fire extinguishers that you may consider using: water extinguishers and foam extinguishers. water extinguishers work on class A fires, while foam extinguishers work on both class A and B fires. If you work with a lot of electrical equipment you will need an extinguisher that can be used around sensitive electrical equipment. A Carbon Dioxide (Co2) extinguisher is the best choice for this situation.
It is important that you provide adequate fire extinguishers to protect your premises, but you must also ensure that your fire safety equipment is well maintained, regularly inspected and replaced when necessary. DRAM offer fire extinguisher servicing in London and surrounding areas. We will assess your building or business, and offer a custom solution to cover you needs in order to keep you and your employees safe.