A Simple Guide for the provision of fire extinguishers in commercial buildings

5 May 2021

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out the regulations governing the use of fire extinguishers across England and Wales and pretty much every commercial business premises, with very few exceptions, must adhere to these regulations.

Here’s a simple overview of fire extinguisher regulations across the commercial sector.

 

How many fire extinguishers do businesses need to have?

According to BS 5306 part 8, the owner of a commercial premises should install at least two ‘Class A’ fire extinguishers as a minimum on every floor of their building. However, as a rough guide a 13a rated extinguisher usually covers 200sqm of space.

The larger the space provided the more extinguishers required. Class A extinguishers are extinguishers that are used for wood, paper and textiles fires and include sizes of 3, 6 or 9 litre water or foam extinguishers.

 

What other types of fire extinguishers should be installed in commercial premises?

The types of fire extinguishers you will need to install in a commercial building will depend on what the building is used for and the risks present within. And the number and type of extinguisher is determined by BS 5306.

All business premises with electrical equipment will need to have a CO2 and foam/water extinguisher in place to be legally compliant. The minimum size recommended for a small electrical appliances or mains board would be a 2Kg CO2. The greater the risk i.e. 450 Volts, plant equipment or machinery then a 5Kg CO2 would be required.

The other types of extinguisher a business may need include:

  • Wet chemical extinguishers for use in kitchens where there are deep fat fryers are being used.
  • Dry powder extinguishers for use in a gas risk, however dry powders are only mitigated for indoor use by a health and safety or risk assessment. 
  • Class D powders are specialist extinguishers provided for a risk of flammable metals. 
  • Foam extinguishers can also be provided to tackle flammable liquid fires and can be very effective with re ignition.

 

Where should fire extinguishers be located?

Your foam and CO2 fire extinguishers should be located by fire alarm points and close to final exits to the building. You may find that your building has more fire alarm points or exits than the required number of extinguishers, in which case, you would apply the 30 metre rule for class A extinguishers as determined by BS 5306 part 8.

The rule states that the no person should be more than 30 metres away from a class A fire extinguisher on any floor of the building. The requirement for an electrical risk (CO2) travel distance is 10m. Ideally the CO2 extinguishers should be placed within 10m of the risk present.

For more specialist extinguishers, like powder or wet chemical ones, they should be located within easy reach of the potential hazard (like a deep fat fryer in the kitchen).

 

How often do fire extinguishers need to be serviced/maintained?

You must have your fire extinguishers serviced every 12 months with what’s known as a “basic service.” These fire extinguisher checks must be done in accordance with BS 5036-6 part 3 and you should always get your service carried out by a competent fire extinguisher technician, with the correct tools, training and experience.

CO2 fire extinguishers should be replaced or pressure tested every 10 years. All water or powder based types of fire extinguishers require a ‘discharge test’ every 5 years. In recent years it has become more popular to provide a service exchange at this period. This means the extinguisher is swapped for an in date extinguisher which provides a faster service time and extinguishers can be covered under warranties for a prolonged period.

If an extinguisher is damaged, discharged or not in good working order, then it may need to be replaced immediately.

Here at Total Fire Group, we can undertake your fire extinguisher service and maintenance. Contact us for more information.

 

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