Did you know a Fire Extinguisher must be commissioned before use?
It’s easy to take fire extinguishers for granted. We expect they will always be accessible and ready to use in an emergency, but did you know you cannot make a fire extinguisher available for use, until it has been commissioned in place?
In fact, there is quite a bit of information that, as a business owner, or responsible person for a building, contents and people, you should be aware of before a fire extinguisher can be used.
How do you know which type of extinguisher to place where and how to maintain them?
We’ll have a look at key considerations and solutions of fire extinguishers in this article.
Fully-functioning fire extinguishers not only protect your premises and your people from the dangers of fire; a correctly commissioned extinguisher is a requirement of ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005’.
The accessibility and ability to deploy the right type of fire extinguisher at the right time is vital to help to stop minor incidents (eg: waste bin fires) becoming major infernos and conform to all the legislative requirements.
The type, accessibility and signage of fire extinguishers form part of your Fire Risk Assessment that by law, every business must complete.
In April 2016 the limit for financial fines was removed and now exceed £200,000 and up to 2 years imprisonment. Typical minor penalties of Fire Risk Assessment infringement can easily reach £5,000, not to mention the bad press and employee or customer loyalty.
So it’s important you understand all requirements of commissioning fire extinguishers in your workplace or public buildings.
Which type of extinguisher and where to place them?
There are many factors to consider when choosing which fire extinguisher is needed, how many and where to place them. This information should be clearly provided in your Fire Risk Assessment.
The most commonly used fire extinguishers are:
- Water (Red label) – Can be used on wood, paper, textiles and solids
- Powder (Blue label) – Can be used on liquid and electricals
- Foam (Cream label) – Can be used on liquids
- Carbon Dioxide (Black label) – Can be used on Liquids and electricals
- Wet Chemical (Yellow label) – Can be used on chemicals, oils and fats
All fire extinguishers are now coloured red and have a block of colour and text description to identify its contents.
This information must be viewable from a 180° when mounted correctly.
British Standard EN 2classifies fires as:
- Class A Fires involving solid materials where combustion normally takes place with the formation of glowing embers.
- Class B Fires involving liquids or liquefiable solids.
- Class C Fires involving gases.
- Class D Fires involving metals.
- Class F Fires involving cooking oils or fats.
Factors to consider when choosing which fire extinguishers you have available, include the use and main activities of the building, floor space and fire exit placements. Your Fire Risk Assessment will also highlight other factors that are specific to your situation.
Fire extinguishers are intended to encourage people to move towards fire exits and fire alarm call points, which forms part of the decision making in their placements within buildings. You should also consider the height of the fire extinguisher when wall or base mounted, dependent on their weight and taking care not to cause injury.
You should also consider, in line with The Health & Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations 1996, how to signpost people to fire extinguishers, especially if they are not in direct view.
Did you know Fire Extinguishers must be commissioned before first use?
When ordering fire extinguishers, they must be officially commissioned in situ before they can be used by anyone. This means you cannot simply order a fire extinguisher online, have delivered and place on the floor in a suitable location ready to use.
By commissioning a fire extinguisher there many elements to consider including CE Marks, pressure gauges, weights, tamper seals, nozzle attachments, damage free and suitable storage and placement options, installed to BS 5306-8: 2003 standard.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005 states a fire extinguisher should be commissioned by a ‘competent person’. That means most employers will either place the commissioning responsibility on a company Director, an employee or suitable outsourced fire professional. Are you comfortable taking on that responsibility or forcing it on an employee? We recommend you seek the support of a fire professional.
Don’t forget to organise on-going maintenance and fire marshal training!
Once you are happy you have the correct extinguishers in place, you should then consider who should attend a fire marshal training course and on-going maintenance of your fire extinguishers.
Having people that have attended a fire marshal training course can help to improve the confidence and promote good decision making in the case of a fire.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005 also requires you to keep any existing equipment, devices or facilities that are provided in your premises for the safety of people (such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, lighting, signs, fire exits and fire doors) in effective working order and maintain elements which provide fire separation or prevent the ingress of smoke into escape routes.
Typical questions about Fire Extinguishers…
- Which fire extinguisher should I use?
- Where should I place a fire extinguisher?
- How many fire extinguishers should I have at work?
- Do fire extinguishers need servicing?
- Do fire extinguishers have an expiry date?
Protecting people, contents and buildings is a serious issue. If you are unsure on any aspect, don’t take risks, contact us at Alert Fire and Security on 0800 652 0142 or read more about Fire Extinguishers here
About Alert Fire and Security
Alert Fire and Security Ltd are a NSI Gold and BAFE certified company that install quality systems. They offer a full range of services including monitored & maintained intruder alarm systems, monitored & maintained fire alarm systems, HD CCTV, biometric access control, fire risk assessment, fire marshal training, fire extinguisher servicing and security gated and barrier solutions.
About The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005 can be viewed at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made
About The Health & Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations 1996
The Health & Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations 1996 can be viewed at