Positioning Fire Extinguishers
Links to Fire Safety Sections
Section 1: Fire Extinguisher Guide
Section 2: Types of Fire Extinguisher
Section 3: How to use a Fire Extinguisher
Section 4: Positioning & Number Needed of Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers should always be placed in a prominent and easily accessible area.
They should not be places in locations that are covered by screens or doors. NEVER use an extinguisher as a door stop.
Appropriate locations for extinguishers are at main entrances to buildings as these locations will be used as fire exits.
Extinguishers should be placed on fire exit routes, but ensure they do not obscure the exit route. Placement at fire exits as well as the tops and bottoms of stairs is also good practice.
People should not have to travel more than 25 meters to get to an extinguisher, have to walk to another floor or have to pass through two or more doors in order to reach extinguishers.
For high risk areas such as kitchens or server rooms, the fire fighting equipment should be close to hand. In a kitchen fire blankets should be in easy access to the fire risks. For server or machine rooms the appropriate extinguishers should also be close to hand and clearly visible.
All fire fighting equipment should be clearly marked by safety signs. This also helps to bring to attention when an extinguisher is missing from its location. There are a wide range of fire safety and location signs available.
For further information on positioning fire extinguishers see British Standard 5306 part 8:2000.
Number of Fire Extinguishers Needed
The best way to find out how many and what type of extinguishers you need is to undertake a fire risk assessment, which is also a legal requirement as a business.
The general rule of thumb for the number of fire extinguishers needed is that for every 200 square meters or 2000 square foot of floor space, you will require at least 1 water, water additive or foam (3 litres or bigger) fire extinguisher. This number is per floor.
The extinguisher must have a minimum fire rating of 13A, although fire extinguishers with higher ratings such as 21A or 34A will be better.
In addition to the water based fire extinguisher, it is recommended that you have at least one CO2 extinguisher also. This is especially true in modern work places where electrical equipment such as computers are present. This also applies to any electrical machinery such as fridges or televisions. A 2kg CO2 fire extinguisher should be sufficient, but for areas containing lots of computer equipment such as server rooms a 5kg CO2 extinguisher would be better suited to the purpose.
For kitchens we would recommend a mix of wet chemical extinguishers for the deep fat fryers as well as fire blankets and CO2 extinguishers for the electrical goods.
Depending upon the nature of your business you may require other types of extinguisher. A fire risk assessment will inform you of what you need.
Many businesses have multiple work areas such as shop, office, kitchen and factory floors or workshops. If this is the case you will need look at the different working areas to make a list of what extinguishers you need exactly.
For a workshop we would recommend the use of powder based extinguishers in conjunction with a CO2 extinguisher for the electrical items.
If located outside temperature should be considered. A powder extinguisher is best suited to a forecourt or petrol station as it will operate at temperatures to minus 30 degrees.
Powder should not be used in office, shop or locations such as nursing homes and hotels as it produces a cloud when discharged which can effect breathing and mask fire exit routes. For these locations a water based extinguisher or foam would be better suited.
For building and construction sites powder and CO2 fire extinguishers would be recommended. For areas with large fire risks it may be necessary to have large wheeled extinguishers to hand.
All vehicles should carry a 2kg powder extinguisher and for vehicles carrying dangerous materials they may also require more specialised equipment.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that house fires occur all too often. This is often due to chip pan fires, discarded cigarettes, candles or faulty wiring.
Due to this there are many different risks involving things like electrical goods, cooking oils and furniture.
All homes should be fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These should be fitted on every level of the home. Check installation instructions carefully to ensure correct placement and check the alarm weekly by pressing the button to ensure the batteries are still functioning. Smoke detectors should not be placed in the bathroom or kitchen where smoke and steam could accidently set them off.
In order to combat house fires it is ideally recommended that you have a 3 or 6 litre foam extinguisher in conjunction with a 2kg CO2 fire extinguisher. A 2kg powder fire extinguisher is also suitable for home use due to its ability to cover more classes of fire. Please remember that 1kg powder and 2 litre foam extinguishers are designed for cars and will not be sufficient for home use.
In the kitchen we would recommend a fire blanket in order to combat a chip pan fire.
Only tackle small fires. If in doubt, get out. It is a priority to get everyone out safely. In the event of a fire always call the fire brigade on 999. Fires may appear to be out but can re-ignite.
More information can be found at http://campaigns.direct.gov.uk/firekills/index.html