How much do you know about fire extinguishers, the law and your responsibilities as a business owner? In this article, we answer lots of frequently asked questions.
Are Fire Extinguishers Required by Law?
Fire extinguishers are required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and should be placed in areas where a fire could start.
The law states that your fire extinguishers and any other fire supplies you have must be suitable for your premises and its purpose. As a result, you must ask a responsible person to highlight every fire hazard throughout the building.
Where Should Fire Extinguishers be Located?
British Standard 5306 stipulates a 30-metre rule. This means that a member of staff should not have to travel more than 30 metres from the site of a fire to reach an appropriate fire extinguisher.
Your fire extinguishers should be located in safe and easily accessible places. All of your fire extinguishers should be positioned in a way that encourages people to move towards an exit and along an escape route. You should ideally position your fire extinguishers near room exits, in corridors or on stairways wherever possible.
How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last For?
A typical fire extinguisher has an operable working life of around 10 years. After this, it requires a controlled discharge, stretch test and refill.
Various factors do affect the shelf life of each fire extinguisher though. These include the location of the extinguisher and the ambient temperature in the room.
Do I Need to Get my Fire Extinguishers Inspected and Serviced?
In compliance with British Standard 5306, fire extinguishers must be inspected and relabelled by a qualified professional every year.
British Standard 5306 is the British safety standard. It states that all extinguishers in public buildings require an annual service to ensure they operate when required.
Added to this, the majority of fire extinguishers require an extended service every five years. The exception to this is the CO2 fire extinguisher, which needs an extended service every 10 years.
What Happens During the Service?
An engineer will visit your building to carry out the servicing work. They’ll make sure that each extinguisher is suitable for its environment and they’ll then clean, seal and label each one.
At the end of the visit, you’ll receive a document that details any recommendations made by the engineer. They should also record their findings in your logbook.
Can Fire Extinguishers be Refilled?
Yes, fire extinguishers can be discharged, pressure tested and then refilled. However, this can only happen if the used cylinder meets the requirements.
Fire extinguishers can be refilled following their annual service. However, if/when this is done is dependent on the findings of the service. The work must also be completed by a qualified engineer.
With the right planning in place, you’ll be able to ensure your staff, customers and property are safe in the event of a fire. So, follow the advice here and make sure you have a thorough plan in place, just in case the worst happens.