Fire extinguishers – What Are The Right Ones For Your Business?

After carrying out a recent fire risk assessment on some offices it raised the question do people have the correct fire extinguishers in place.

The offices in question had both foam and water fire extinguishers. You may question is there anything wrong with this as both suitable for Class A fires freely burning material such as paper and wood, which generally we all expect within an office environment.

What we need to question when considering which would be the most suitable type of extinguisher for the environment is how a fire would start.   Unless fire has been started deliberately through arson, cause of a fire in an office environment may be through electrical equipment, faulty wiring, over loading of extension leads.

Paper contained within the office may help to fuel the fire but if using a water or foam extinguishers may make the situation worse or provide the user with electric shock.

Generally we all see in offices a foam or water extinguisher suitable on a Class A fire alongside a CO2 extinguisher  ideal for electrical fires but not suitable to be used on Class A fires. CO2 extinguishers also have the other hazard, if used incorrectly, ie someone’s hand becoming stuck to the nozzle.

What Are The Alternatives to a CO2 Extinguishers?

Powder extinguishers are ideal for mixed risk environments, they may create more mess than a water extinguisher but in reality if a fire was to occur we will all expect some mess, the only class of fire powder is not suitable for is Class F combustible cooking media such as cooking oil, fats, grease.

Water Mist extinguisher is suitable for all classes of fires including Class F combustible cooking media which previously would have required a wet chemical extinguisher. Now you’re all probably all going hang on a minute we’ve always been told we can’t use water on electrical fires, whats the difference with a water mist extinguisher.

Water mist extinguishers were introduced into the United States in the late 1990’s. They are suitable for electrical fires as current flow back is prevented because the path is broken by tiny droplets, this means there’s not a constant stream of water. Originally when water mist extinguishers were introduced they were filled with plain water, this has since changed with water mist extinguishers containing deionised water.

The downside of water mist extinguishers is the cost as around£100. Whereas for £50 – £60 you could purchase a 6 litre water and 2kg CO2extinguisher. A 4kg – 6kg powder extinguisher may be around £30 – £40 each.

Next time you have your fire risk assessment carried out or engineers are in servicing your fire extinguishers question them as to why you have the type of extinguishers you have in place and are they the most suitable for the hazards within the building.

If you have any questions please call us on 01933 812234