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Quick Guide to Fire Extinguishers

The number of fires recorded in England in 2015 was over 150,000! This highlights the importance of having adequate fire protection for your business. There are a number of legal obligations for business owners to comply with regarding fire extinguishers. Therefore, we have put together this quick guide to help you understand your requirements as a business owner.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) states that appropriate fire-fighting equipment, including portable fire extinguishers, must be provided where there is risk of fire. The provision and maintenance of fire extinguishers is covered by fire safety order BS5306, which provides guidelines on which extinguishers to use where and on what type of fire.

How Many Fire Extinguishers Do I Need?

As a general rule, most businesses will need one water-based extinguisher (such as water, water additive or foam) for every 200 square metres of floor space, per floor. Moreover, the extinguisher must have a minimum fire rating of 13A (you can find this on the front label of any approved extinguisher). If there is a sprinkler or fire suppression system in place fewer extinguishers may be required.

As water-based extinguishers are likely to pose electrical risks it makes sense to pair them with a CO2 based extinguisher at every fire point.

Where Should I Put Them?

Fire extinguishers need to be accessible and visible, do not hide them behind a door, screen or retail display. In a standard workplace every employee should be within 30 metres of an extinguisher on any level of the premises.

Specialist extinguishers, such as dry powder for Class C fires in boiler rooms, must be positioned within easy reach of, but not too near, the specific fire hazard. For example the boiler.

Extinguishers should be fixed to the wall by brackets, or if they are very heavy, attached to a rigid floor stand. You may also want to include a location sign above the extinguisher to identify when the extinguisher is missing.

Servicing and Maintenance

Extinguishers should be checked visually by a responsible person every month. However, extinguishers must be serviced annually by a competent person. This is someone with the necessary training, qualifications, experience and tools. The service check includes, checking it’s in date, hasn’t been tampered with, is the right weight and pressure and is positioned correctly with the right signage.

If you work in a high risk or damaging environment such as underground or at sea, more frequent inspections may be necessary.

UK regulations advise that extinguishers should be replaced or given an extended service every 5 years. CO2 extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years, unless they are damaged or discharged. Also no extinguisher must ever be over 20 years old. The law also requires business owners to keep a permanent record of all servicing, maintenance and inspections of fire extinguishers.

Do your staff need fire training? Assured offer a variety of fire safety training courses which can take place at your premises. For more information why not give us a call on 0845 402 3045 and we’ll be happy to help.

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