All businesses, whether small or big, should perform a fire risk assessment and choose the appropriate fire detection and equipment required. One of the common types of fire equipment is the fire extinguisher. Generally, there are different types of extinguishers and it's important you buy the appropriate type based on the risks typical in your place of work. Here are the main types of fire extinguishers available to cope with particular fire hazards.
Types of extinguishers
- A water fire extinguisher is best suited to deal with Class A fire hazards which involve common threats such as paper, plastics, wood and coal. It extinguishes the fire by cooling. It is not suitable for use on oil or petrol fires and not near electrical equipment.
- A foam fire extinguisher may also tackle Class A fire hazards. Additionally, it is ideal for use with Class B fire hazards, such as flammable liquids. Therefore, if you're dealing with petrol and paint products, you should invest in a foam fire extinguisher. It extinguishes by suffocating liquids with film.
- A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher tackles all manner of electrical hazards and may also deal with flammable liquids under Class B hazards. It extinguishes by extricating oxygen. It's not appropriate for solids.
- A powder extinguisher is perfect for various types of fires. As a result, premises where there's a possibility of fires involving gas, electrical or flammable liquids or Class A fires should invest in a powder extinguisher. It's safe to use close to electrical appliances. It extinguishes the fire by choking the flares.
- Last but not least, a wet chemical fire extinguisher is specifically designed for fires related to cooking oil and fat. A chip shop would definitely need a wet chemical extinguisher if they often use cooking oil or fat. It's also suitable for Class A fires.
Where to position your extinguishers
Generally, fire extinguishers should either be stand or bracket mounted in the following places:
- Where your staff can reach them quickly
- If possible sited on an escape route close to alarm points
- Not hidden at the back of doors of furniture. They should be clearly visible.
- Secured to a wall at a reachable height
- Away from any potential heat source such as kettle, cooker or radiator.
Fire extinguishers need to be discharged and refilled at specific intervals. Therefore, make sure your extinguishers are visually inspected about once a month and serviced annually. You don't want a scenario where your fire equipment is non-operational in the event of a fire.