Fire Extinguisher Guide
Water Fire Extinguishers - Suitable for Class A fires such as wood, paper, fabric etc. - not to be used on electrical equipment or hot oil.
Foam Fire Extinguishers - Class A and B Fires including general solids and flammable liquids. Also for liquifying plastics.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers - For class B Fires and Electrical Fires Electrical Equipment and flammable liquids (not kitchen fat!). The preferred choice to cover electrical fire risks
Powder Fire Extinguishers - Class A B C and Electrical Fires - General materials, flammable liquids, flammable gas, Electrical Equipment. Dry powder is not recommended for use in offices, as it causes lots of damage, however, this is ideal for industrial applications, as well as the car. Do not use in small rooms as there is a risk of inhalation.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers - Class F Fires - Deep fat fryers and cooking oil fires
Fire Extinguishers - More Information
Fire extinguishers save the UK economy over £500 million. They prevent over 1,500 injuries and successfully extinguish fires in over 80% of instances.
By law, all employers must provide staff with adequate means of tackling a fire in the workplace. There is also a legal obligation for a competent person to at least annually service the fire extinguishers to the standard BS 5306 part 3. This requirement is stated in the RRO Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. In addition to the annual inspection by a competent person, workplaces must also ensure that they carry out their own checks, at least monthly.
What to look out for when visually inspecting extinguishers:
Any sign of tampering. This may be missing or broken tamper tags or pins. Any signs of discharge. This may be water, powder or foam traces on the hose or horn of the extinguisher. Gauges showing low or high pressure. Any damage tofire extinguishers such as rust, dents, missing parts etc. Workplaces with a high risk of damage to their fire extinguishers such as those kept on haulage vehicles should be particularly vigilant. Any damage should be reported to your fire extinguisher maintenance company so it can be made safe. Any replacement fire extinguishers, fire blankets or signs can be bought online at discount prices from www.nationwidefirefire extinguishers.co.uk or from your service company.
A ‘competent person’ is defined by the British Standard as: ‘a person with the necessary training and experience, with access to the relevant tools, equipment and information, manuals and knowledge of any special procedures recommended by the manufacturer of the portable fire extinguisher. They need to be capable of carrying out the relevant maintenance procedures of this standard’. We recommend using a BAFE or FETA qualified technician or equivalent, who undergo refresher training every 3 years to keep their industry knowledge up to date. It is also good practice to check the company has suitable liability insurance in place.
During a basic annual service, the engineer carries out various procedures on the fire extinguisher depending on its make and type. Generally, the service includes: Checking all fire extinguisher parts such as: valves, safety devices, gauges, and operating mechanisms. Checking externally for corrosion. The weight is also recorded and checked to fall within the appropriate range. The engineer also compiles a ’Certificate of Inspection’ - a legal record of the maintenance carried out on the fire extinguishers to be kept by the customer and engineer.
Extended extinguisher services generally involve carrying out a test discharge on the fire extinguisher, checking internal and external parts, then recharging the fire extinguisher ready for use, if deemed safe by the engineer. BS 5306 - 3, states that water fire extinguishers, foam fire extinguishers, powder fire extinguishers and wet chemical fire extinguishers are required to have extended services every 5 years. CO2 fire extinguishers must have an overhaul & pressure test every 10 years. Most companys carry out a ‘service exchange’ for CO2 and powder fire extinguishers when they are due overhaul or discharge. That is exchanging your old extinguisher for a new or refurbished extinguisher. Buying new fire extinguishers from Nationwide Fire Extinguishers may prove to be more cost effective than service exchanging old units.
Each extinguisher should be accompanied by appropriate safety signage. These extinguisher ID signs indicate the type of extinguisher and the safe use of the particular type. Nationwide Fire Extinguishers stock a wide variety of low cost safety signs.
Fire extinguishers should, where possible, be wall mounted on a suitable bracket or placed on a fire extinguisher stand. Fire extinguishers should never be used to prop doors open - Especially fire doors which should remain shut unless an automatic closing device has been fitted. Our extinguishers are all supplied with wall brackets free of charge. We also sell fire extinguisher stands.
This guide is intended as a brief explanation of terms and as an overview of the relevant British Standard. For further information please refer to: BS EN3 BS 5306 part 3 and 8, Fire precautions (Workplace) regulations 1999, Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005