Did you know that you are responsible for fire safety in your business? As a responsible person, you could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow the minimum fire safety regulations.
To follow these regulations, you need to conduct risk assessments, develop safety plans, offer training, and, most importantly, provide fire safety equipment.
You’ll need to start by supplying your business with fire extinguishers for the proper fire safety equipment. Here is all the information you need to know to get started.
1. What Are Commercial Fire Extinguishers?
As per fire safety regulations, commercial fire extinguishers are necessary for any commercial property. Depending on the business, commercial properties will need different types of fire extinguishers.
There are more types of fire extinguishers than you may expect. The cause of the fire will determine the best method for extinguishing it, so equipping your building with more than one type of fire extinguisher may be required.
You may think water is the solution to fire, but water isn’t always a viable solution. In contrast, water can exacerbate some types of fires.
To prevent fire from spreading, you must have the appropriate fire extinguishers and the training to use them. Do not use fire extinguishers on any fire outside of their designated classification.
2. What Are Commercial Fire Extinguishers Used For?
Fire extinguishers are designed to extinguish specific types of fire. The main classes of fire extinguishers and corresponding fire classifications include the following:
- CO2: extinguishes fires caused by electricity
- Water: extinguishes fires caused by organic, solid material
- Water Additive: extinguishes fires caused by organic, solid material more effectively than water extinguishers
- AFFF Foam: extinguishes fires caused by organic solids and flammable/combustible liquids
- Dry Powder: extinguishes fires caused by organic solids, flammable/combustible liquids, flammable gases, and combustible metals.
- Wet Chemical: extinguishes fires caused by cooking fat and oil
We explore Fire Extinguishers in more detail
In addition to these fire extinguishers, it’s also helpful (and possibly required for your business) to have fire blankets available. Fire blankets can smother hot oil fires as well as fire on clothing.
If your business works with special chemicals or other flammable materials, you may need to supply specially made fire extinguishers. Refer to government fire safety guidelines or contact us to determine if special fire extinguishers are necessary for your commercial property. You can learn more about the types and uses of fire extinguishers in this handy article.
3. How Many Fire Extinguishers Does My Business Need?
You can determine the minimum number of fire extinguishers based on qualified professionals’ fire safety risk assessment. If you have more than five employees, you must have regular fire risk assessments.
Annual fire risk assessments are necessary to find out how to minimise the risk of fire on your commercial property. These assessments are a legal requirement, but they also ensure the safety of you, your employees, and your customers.
You can refer to the Regulatory (Fire Safety) Reform Order 2005 to see the regulations for fire risk assessments.
Several factors will influence the required number of fire extinguishers:
- Number of building floors
- Floor size
- Floor layout
- Special fire hazards
- Use of other fire prevention equipment
Your Fire Risk Assessment will tell you how many fire extinguishers you require and where to place them.
4. How and When to Use a Fire Extinguisher
You and your employees should be trained to use every type of fire extinguisher in the building.
Before you or anyone else uses a fire extinguisher, someone should trigger the fire alarm to signal evacuation for everyone in the building. Then, in the event that the fire spreads, the alarm will prevent anyone from being caught in the fire.
When to Evacuate
These are the conditions in which you should not attempt to extinguish a fire:
- Fire is spreading quickly
- Fire is in multiple locations/not contained
- The extinguisher is not fully charged/the wrong type
Listen to them if your instincts tell you that the situation is too dangerous. Your and everyone else’s safety should be the top priority.
Ensure that everyone is trained in every aspect of your fire safety plan. In some scenarios, evacuation is a safer option than using fire extinguishers. If you have to evacuate, call 999 for the Fire Service.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Here are the basic steps to using a fire extinguisher:
- Position yourself between the fire and your evacuation route
- Pull the pin to unlock the handle
- Aim the nozzle towards the base of the fire
- Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side, focusing on the base of the fire
Once the fire has been extinguished, examine the area carefully for any remaining embers or small flames.
5. How to Dispose of a Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers require particular disposal since they are pressurised containers. In addition, depending on the fire extinguisher type, its contents may also be harmful to the environment if released.
To recycle your fire extinguishers responsibly, take them to a registered ADR Recycling Centre. These centres know how to carry out chemical disposal and recycle the metals safely.
Maximise Your Business’s Fire Safety
Use your newfound fire safety knowledge to create a safer work environment in your business. Remember to carefully reference fire safety regulations to protect your business from safety and legal issues in the future.
Need commercial fire extinguishers today?
Request a comprehensive fire risk survey here. At ClearView, we can survey your premises and determine what fire extinguishers are necessary for your business. We provide fire extinguisher maintenance services and fire extinguisher installation.
We regularly review our articles. However, information and technology evolves over time. Please not all information in this article is accurate to the data of it’s last review.
This article was last reviewed on: 27th June 2023