The Importance of Having Fire Extinguishers

March 20, 2023

The Importance of Having Fire Extinguishers

It may be a case of stating the obvious, but fire extinguishers are a fundamental part of any fire protection plan for businesses and homes.  They can be thought of as the first response to a fire and can help to protect the property, and more importantly to save lives.

Who’s Responsible for Fire Safety in the Workplace/Non-Domestic Premises?

As a business owner or landlord, the responsibility is on you to provide the appropriate firefighting equipment on your business site. The regulations state that you must:

  • Do a risk assessment on the property and periodically evaluate it.
  • Advise your staff about any hazards you’ve found.
  • Implement and uphold fire safety practices.
  • Make plans in case of an emergency.
  • Train your staff appropriately.

N.B. It is worth bearing in mind that you can face legal implications, and even prison if you do not follow fire safety regulations.

What are the Different Classes of Fire Extinguishers?

All fires are known by their ‘class’. It is crucial to have the appropriate type of fire extinguisher for the class of fire that you could be at risk for. The four main types of fire extinguisher are as follows:

  • Water Extinguishers – Class A Fires – Wood/paper source
  • Foam Extinguishers – Class B Fires – Flammable Liquids
  • CO2 Extinguishers – Class B Fires - Electrical Fires
  • Dry Powder Extinguishers – Class A, B and C – Solids/Liquids and Gasses
  • Specialist Powder – Class D Fires – Burning Metals
  • Water Mist – Class F Fires -Fat Fires

If you are business owner or employer, you are obliged to adhere to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This means that commercial buildings must have a route out in the case of a fire. It also means that fire extinguishers need to be supplied, to be able to safely handle a small fire.

Do You Need to Maintain Fire Extinguishers?

One of the biggest problems with many businesses is that they purchase fire extinguishers without realising that they need regular checks and maintenance. Not only should fire extinguishers be clearly locatable in an emergency, they should also be well maintained.

It’s essential to use a ‘competent person’ to maintain your extinguishers at least once a year, to adhere to the British Standard 5306-3. Using a qualified technician means that your extinguishers will be fully effective should the worst happen.  

It is also crucial that the responsible person in the business does monthly visual checks on the extinguishers. This involves visually checking the seal, pressure gauge and headcap pin, to make sure they look as they should. You also need to check that the extinguisher is safely mounted on the wall and that the instructions can be read.

It’s all too common for fire extinguishers to be forgotten about and either they can be out of date, or used as a door stop, or other less beneficial role. This often means that if they are actually needed in the event of fire, they either won’t work, or can’t be found.

How Many Fire Extinguishers Should Your Business Have?

As a business owner, to answer this question fully, you will need to do a fire risk assessment, or use a member of our team to carry one out for you.

The number of extinguishers you need and what type they should be depends on the size of your business and what potential fuel types you have on your premises.

The maximum distance someone should have to travel to use a fire extinguisher (and ergo, how many and what type you need) depends on the Class:

  • Class A – 30 Metres
  • Class B – 10 Metres
  • Class C – 30 Metres
  • Class D – Consult an Expert
  • Class F – 10 Metres
  • Electrical – 10 Metres

We understand that fire legislation can be confusing, and our team are happy to help make it easier to understand, and to help you ensure that you are following the right guidelines.

For further information on fire extinguishers, fire risk assessment, fire door inspection and door maintenance, contact the team at RTJ of Sussex today.