Types of Fire Extinguisher - Does Your Workplace Have the Right Type of Fire Extinguishers?
William E. Roman
The Regulatory Reform Order in the UK puts a duty of care on what it describes as the 'Responsible Person' in every place of work to ensure there's adequate supply of fire fighting gear and that this equipment is kept in good working order.
The Responsible Person is the person in control of the work premises, usually the business owner or manager. This obligation can be shared in premises used by several organisations.
To put it differently, providing appropriate fire extinguishers on your place of work isn't an optional extra, you are legally obliged to perform it. This article should help you to check the fire extinguishers you have are the ideal kind and that you've got enough of these in the right places.
Bear in mind that having fire extinguishers in your workplace isn't so that individuals are able to stick around and fight a fire, but in the event they are necessary to help exit the building safely.
Types of Fire Extinguisher - Colour Coding
Colour coding of fire extinguishers in the UK changed some time back to bring the UK in line with other European Union countries. Moving from a system where the whole fire extinguisher has been a particular colour to a displaying a block of colour was seen by some as a backward step. The UK had a very effective system with fire extinguishers easily identifiable, but it was viewed as easier to fall down to EU normal that try to bring all the other countries around UK standard.
The colour coding system today is that almost all fire extinguishers are reddish in colour, with a block of color corresponding to the extinguisher type only over the operating instructions. The color codes are as follows:
Carbon Dioxide: Dark
Dry Powder: blue
Wet Chemical: yellow
What Each Different Type of Fire Extinguisher Is Used For
Water Fire Extinguishers
These fire extinguishers are best for use on fires involving ordinary materials like wood, paper and fabrics. They produce a steady jet of water that can be directed to the fire. These aren't suitable for using on flames on live electrical equipment or burning oil or fat.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers
These fire extinguishers are thought for scenarios involving live electrical dangers or flammable liquids. Since they're just producing a gas they cause very little damage and so are good for use on printers, photocopiers faxes, etc.. Though they may be utilized perfectly on any electrical equipment, they can't be guaranteed to not cause any harm at all to delicate electronic devices and IT equipment.
Foam Fire Extinguishers
These fire extinguishers are safe on precisely the same sort of materials which you would use a water dispenser, and in addition may be used on flammable liquids such as gas, diesel, solvents and spirits. They create a foam that seals in vapours to avoid the fire re-igniting. These extinguishers aren't, however, appropriate to be used on deep fat fryers.
These are a flexible fire extinguisher, which may be used on fires with flammable gases like butane and propane. They are also safe on electrical fires, but are likely to cause more damage than the usual Carbon Dioxide extinguisher. Because of the character of this fine powder created, they are not recommended to be used in confined spaces or by people with breathing issues.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
These fire extinguishers are the only kind that are suitable for use on burning oil for example cooking fat or lard. The extinguisher generates a gentle spray that responds to seal the surface of burning fat or oil to stop it re-igniting.
Halon Fire Extinguishers
Halon fire extinguishers have been banned in the UK because, 2002, apart from very limited exceptional conditions. The main reason for the ban is that the critical ozone depleting property of the inert gases they discharge in the atmosphere. If you have any halon extinguishers in your area of work you want to organize for the safe disposal of those.
Types of Fire Extinguisher - How Many Should I Have?
For general work areas such as offices, shops and similar regions having no specific hazards, you ought to be supplying water fire extinguishers. Concerning the amount you want to provide, the official requirement is that you just need one for each 200 square yards of floor space, subject to a minimum of two fire extinguishers on each floor.
Where Should The Fire Extinguishers Be Located?
Unless an extinguisher has been supplied to deal with a particular risk, they should be located at key points on your emergency escape routes. Key locations are adjacent to fire exit doors, near the exit from a floor or space, etc..
If an extinguisher is intended to cover a specific risk, such as a hot fat fryer in a kitchen, then it obviously needs to be sited from the area near to the hazard it relates to.
The very best way of fixing is to attach your fire extinguishers into a wall by a special bracket. This places them at a good height for visibility and access as well as offering a level of protection from being knocked over or moved. Where this isn't feasible, you can acquire free standing units that the fire extinguisher sits in. This helps to provide them a more permanent position than when they were only by themselves and makes them less inclined to be transferred or damaged.
Maintenance And Testing of Fire Extinguishers
Part of this duty about the Responsible Person will be to properly maintain all of your fire fighting equipment, as it may as well not be there if it's not in working order. The very best method to ensure this is to prepare a maintenance contract with a specialist business to inspect your extinguishers at least a year. This will then give you documentary evidence that you have taken proper precautions, if anything go wrong in future.
In between reviews you should execute your own regular tests. These can just entail recording the fact that you have checked that each extinguisher is in its proper place and hasn't been discharged or damaged. You should maintain a record of this in a log book in case the Fire Authority wish to scrutinize it. Again the documentary proof of your reviews could be rather helpful.