You probably walk past the fire extinguishers in your premises every day, but would you know how to use one, how often they should be serviced or what to do with out of date ones? Ashley Hickling, fire sales manager at Stanley Security, has the answers
Fire extinguishers are an essential asset when it comes to proofing your outlet against a fire emergency. They can help control small outbreaks of fire quickly, preventing flames from spreading and causing more damage. In more severe emergencies, fire extinguishers can save lives.
Matching the fire with the extinguisher
You may be surprised to hear there are different types of fire, with different characteristics. Here are the six classes of fire pertinent to most standard commercial premises:
Class A - fires involving solid materials such as wood, paper or textiles
Class B - fires involving flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel or oils
Class C - fires involving gases
Class D - fires involving metals
Electrical Fires - fires involving live electrical apparatus (it doesn’t get an ‘official’ category)
Class F - fires involving cooking oils.
Class A is the most common fire type, but obviously in a fast food outlet such as a fish and chip shop Class F takes pole position.
To deal with the different fire types, a range of fire extinguishers are available. Here are the types of fire extinguisher, their colour code (put on the extinguisher for quick identification) and what types of fire they are suitable for:
Wet Chemical (yellow label): Class A & F – essential for location near to the fryers
Water (red label): Class A only
Water Mist (white label): All classes
Foam (cream label): Class A & B
Dry Powder (blue label): Class A, B, C & some electrical
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) (black label): Class B & electrical
The life of a fire extinguisher
Should you have need of them, you want your fire extinguisher ready to work at a moment’s notice, so get them serviced every year or after each use. They must be replaced at the end of their lives, which is ten years for CO2 extinguishers and 15 years for all others.
If you need to dispose of your extinguisher, do not put it out with your rubbish. If you have just a couple of fire extinguishers then you could take them to a local recycling centre where staff will know what to do with them, but check with your council first.
Ultimately, employing the services of a professional fire company to deal with your fire extinguisher needs is the sensible approach.
Using your fire extinguisher
Of course, it’s not just your fire extinguisher that needs to be ready in the event of a fire – you do too. The good news is that fire extinguishers are easy to use, mostly with the P.A.S.S. method:
P. Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher to interrupt the tamper seal.
A. Aim the fire extinguisher low, with the nozzle pointed at the base of the fire.
S. Squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher to unleash the termination agent.
S. Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the bottom of the fire until it’s extinguished.
If the fireplace re-ignites, repeat the last three steps.
Stanley Security 0844 254 0032 www.stanleysecurity.co.uk