Each year Fire extinguishers save the UK economy over £500 million. They prevent over 1,500 injuries and successfully extinguish fires in over 80% of instances.
By law, all employers must provide staff with adequate means of tackling a fire in the workplace. There is also a legal obligation for a competent person to at least annually service the fire extinguishers to the standard BS 5306 part 3.
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A ‘competent person’ is defined by the British Standard as: ‘a person with the necessary training and experience, with access to the relevant tools, equipment and information, manuals and knowledge of any special procedures recommended by the manufacturer of the portable fire extinguisher.
They need to be capable of carrying out the relevant maintenance procedures of this standard’. We recommend using a BAFE or FETA qualified technician or equivalent, who undergo refresher training every 3 years to keep their industry knowledge up to date. It is also good practice to check the company has suitable liability insurance in place.
During a basic annual service, the engineer carries out various procedures on the fire extinguisher depending on its make and type. Generally, the service includes: Checking all fire extinguisher parts such as: valves, safety devices, gauges, and operating mechanisms. Checking externally for corrosion. The weight is also recorded and checked to fall within the appropriate range. The engineer also compiles a ’Certificate of Inspection’ - a legal record of the maintenance carried out on the fire extinguishers to be kept by the customer and engineer.
Extended extinguisher services generally involve carrying out a test discharge on the fire extinguisher, checking internal and external parts, then recharging the fire extinguisher ready for use, if deemed safe by the engineer. BS 5306 - 3, states that water fire extinguishers, foam fire extinguishers, powder fire extinguishers and wet chemical fire extinguishers are required to have extended services every 5 years. CO2 fire extinguishers must have an overhaul & pressure test every 10 years.
Most companies carry out a ‘service exchange’ for CO2 and powder fire extinguishers when they are due overhaul or discharge. That is exchanging your old extinguisher for a new or refurbished extinguisher. Buying new fire extinguishers from protection Security Systems Fire Extinguishers may prove to be more cost effective than service exchanging old units.
Each extinguisher should be accompanied by appropriate safety signage. These extinguisher signs indicate the type of extinguisher and the safe use of the particular type. Nationwide Fire Extinguishers stock a wide variety of low cost safety signs.