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Fire Safety FAQs

The simple answer to this is yes. A fire extinguisher will need to be serviced. It is recommended that you do this every year. However, an extended service will need to be organised after five years.

You should arrange for a service of a fire extinguisher every five years at least; this is because they may need to be refilled. After ten years, they may need to be refurbished.

You should not use an expired fire extinguisher. This is because the materials inside might not be as effective, and the pressure inside might not work as well.

You should not use a fire extinguisher after it has been used. This is because they won’t be fully charged and, therefore, may not work in an emergency. You can buy a rechargeable fire extinguisher, which you can recharge when you have used them or if you have noticed that the pressure has reduced over time.

It is not only business owners that need to buy fire extinguishers; homeowners can also benefit from them too. It is a good idea to ensure that they are installed in parts of your home where they are obvious. That way, whoever is in your house will be able to find and then use them.

In the case of electrical fires, a CO2 extinguisher should be used. This form of extinguisher will displace oxygen in the air which will suffocate the fire and stop it from spreading. The benefit of these types of fire extinguishers is that they do not leave a residue, which means that you don’t have to worry about damaging your electrical items or being at risk of an electric shock.

In order to keep those in your premises safe from the risk of fire, there are five main safety rules that you should keep in mind. These are installing fire alarms, planning a fire escape route, checking equipment that is a fire risk on a regular basis, having fire extinguishers and ensuring that your colleagues are properly fire safety trained too.

PASS is designed to help people to use a fire extinguisher in the case of a fire. The A stands for aim. You should always aim your spray at the bottom of the fire, as this will help to extinguish the flames.

The main types of fire extinguishers that you can buy and have on your premises are red, blue, cream and black. You can also buy yellow-coloured models. However, these are more aimed at wet chemical fires and are not as common to have to extinguish.

The six types of fires that you may experience include solids, gases, liquids, metals, kitchen oils and electricity.

Once you have used a fire extinguisher on a fire, even for a short time, it will need to be recharged. It will also need to be recharged and refilled once it has met a certain age. Foam, powder and water extinguishers may need to be discharged and tested every five years and possibly filled at this time too.

Fire extinguishers do not require shaking before they are used. However, it is recommended that you shake a dry powder model to ensure that the powder is fluffy and ready to be sprayed out onto the fire.

A fire extinguisher will have a gauge on it which will tell you how much of the needed materials are inside. However, a CO2 extinguisher is different and will need to be weighed to check how much of the required materials are inside the canister.

For kitchens, a Class F extinguisher is the best option. This is because they are designed to put out fires that have oil and grease as their fuel. Other types of fire extinguishers may make the fire worse.

You need to replace your fire extinguisher every 10-12 years.

In order for a fire to start and then continue, there are three main elements in the fire triangle. These three things are oxygen, heat and fuel. Without one of these, the fire won’t be able to carry on burning. This is how a fire extinguisher works.

Carbon dioxide is used to stop fires. This is because this gas will remove oxygen from the air, which will then take away one of the three elements of fire and stop the fire from spreading and getting worse.

So long as a fire extinguisher is looked after and is serviced on a regular basis, it should last for as long as ten years before it needs to be replaced.

The best way to choose a fire extinguisher is to think about the types of flammable materials you have in your workplace and the type of fire that they are likely to cause. You may find that you only need one type of extinguisher in your workplace, or you may need several types. It all depends on what you do.

One of the main things that you should make sure that you have when you choose a fire extinguisher is that it has the correct labelling on it. This should be easy to spot so that you can ensure that you have the right colour for what you need and the nature of your fire.  

They should also be listed and certified by a testing centre, and they should have this on their labels to show that this is the case.

Of course, the type of fire extinguisher you will see in a workplace will depend on the nature of the business and the materials that they have on-site. However, the most common types that you are likely to see are dry powder, carbon dioxide, foam and water.

You are most likely to find a water-based fire extinguisher in many workplaces, as the majority of fires that occur are likely to be due to organic materials (which water will work on). That said, many businesses will buy a dry powder fire extinguisher as they can work on a variety of fire class types and still be safe to use.

Every single fire extinguisher is colour coded so that you can find them much easier when they are needed and know that you have the right one.

  • Blue is a dry powder 
  • Black is carbon dioxide 
  • Cream is foam 
  • Red is water  
  • Yellow is a wet chemical

A CO2 fire extinguisher is used for electrical fires. This is because they remove the oxygen from the air and suffocate the fire. They do not spray out any powder, foam or water, which will not damage the electrical items or cause a risk of electric shock.

CO2 fire extinguishers can also be used with Class B fires too.

All fires are classified in a certain way according to their nature and the main form of combustion within them. An ABC fire extinguisher will be able to tackle the Class A, Class B and Class C fire types, which means that they can be an incredibly useful piece of equipment to have on your premises.

The best way to protect your business against fire is to implement the basic fire safety rules. These rules are:

  • Carrying out a fire safety risk assessment
  • Ensuring that sources of ignition and flammable substances are kept well apart
  • Avoid any accidental fires
  • Ensure that good housekeeping is kept to at all times. This includes organising and clearing away rubbish that could possibly burn

Water extinguishers are red. Other extinguishers will differ slightly from this, however, they will usually still be red, with a label or band or colour that will indicate the contents of the extinguisher and therefore which type of fire it is going to fight.

The first do is to ensure that you react quickly in the event of a fire. You want to make sure that if you discover the fire, that you raise the alarm for all the other people in the building. If you are the one who hears the alarm then you need to ensure that you exit the building as quickly as you can. Do not go back for belongings, the most important thing to get out, is you.

That said, a big don’t is to use a lift should a fire alarm go off, you need to use the stairs, no matter how many you need to climb down or up.

A do is to practise your fire evacuation procedure as regularly as you can. That way, everyone, even those who are new to the business, know where they are going and what is expected of them in the case of a fire.

Many businesses decide that the best way to be safe in the case of a fire, is to have a fire safety checklist. These checklists help the fire standards and procedures to be adhered to, whether there is a risk of a fire or not. They assist you, should an emergency happen and give all staff members something to check over should they need to ascertain their understanding is right.

Fire safety is what could make the difference between huge amounts of damage to a property and no damage at all. Fire safety can also make a difference when it comes to the lives of those working for you.

That’s enough for all of us to see why fire safety is key.

It may seem difficult to promote fire safety in your workplace, but the truth is that you may just be approaching it in the wrong way. The best way to try and promote it is to ensure that your staff appreciate that fires do happen and rather than thinking that it won’t happen to them, remember that the risk is always there.

There are lots of things that you can do to keep employees safe in the workplace should a fire occur.

You should encourage employees to keep the workplace clean and tidy and not to leave flammable materials around. Next, you need to think about the fire safety equipment that you have and whether or not it is working effectively.

In order to make sure that the safety rules are followed and that they are working, a regular risk assessment should be carried out. This needs to eb through and cover all the possible outcomes and occurrences that might be faced.

You also need to think about the equipment that you have in the workplace and whether that could pose a fire risk if it is not turned off or used properly.

Finally, every single person in your workplace should have the right level of fire safety training. This may be just the basics as overall training, as well as have designated key staff members who are recognised as being fire marshals.

Fire prevention is incredibly important in the workplace. The good news is that there are lots of ways that you can prevent fires. Here are just four of them:

  • Keep the building as clean and tidy as you can, especially when it comes to leaving anything that could be deemed to be flammable
  • Ensuring that any waste is dealt with and disposed of properly. This is again particularly true for flammable materials
  • Carry out regular risk assessments on the property and practises
  • Keep fire doors closed and ensure that they are clear should escape be needed

If a fire can be extinguished in five seconds and the area that it is in is deemed to be safe, then you should stay and try to supress it as this will limit the spread and type of damage. If it cannot be extinguished in five seconds and/or the area is not safe for you to be in, then you should focus instead on escape once the alarm has been raised.

There are four stages of fire and understanding each of these can really help to protect yourself and those around you in the case of a fire.

The first stage is ignition, this is when the fire is easiest to put out and will cause the least damage possible.

The next stage is growth, as the name suggests, this is when the fire will start to get harder to control. It will soon, without suppression, reach the next stage, when it is fully developed.

A fully developed fire will be very difficult to suppress. It is burning at the maximum temperature that it can burn at and will be causing the most heat damage to your property. If the fire is at this stage, then it is most likely that escape will be the best approach to take in order to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Once a full established and developed fire has had time to burn, then it will reach the final stage and start to decay. It will decrease in its intensity and will either simply smoulder or become non-existent. If the fire was allowed to burn itself, with no suppression, then it will only reach this stage when there is nothing left as fuel for it to burn.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers implement fire protection and prevention in the workplace.

As the name suggests, a fire plan is a written document which is going to highlight all the actions that need to be taken by staff should there be a fire in the workplace. This should cover raising an alarm, calling the fire brigade, how to escape the building and where the fire protection equipment is and how to use it too.

Having this document is important as it not only allows you to think about what your fire plan should look like and contain, but it also acts as a reminder for employees on their part to play in a fire situation.

Fire hazards cover anything that could impede the function of any fire protection methods that are in place in a business, as well as anything that could be seen to inhibit fire safety.

An example of a fire hazard is an obstruction in from of the fire exit or main fire exit route in a business. Another would be if there was a fire alarm that was no longer working. Both of these can be a dangerous risk during a fire when people need to escape.

There are five safety rules that you should follow in order to protect yourself and those in your business premises from fire.

The first is to install fire alarms, these are proven to be the very best in early fire warnings and should be placed in every floor of your business premises. Fire alarms should be tested every single month and they should be replaced every few years.

For additional fire safety, you could consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system.

The second rule is to always have a fire escape route planned out. This should involve stairs rather than any lifts and should cover all the main fire escape doors too. It is important that you have a designed fire meeting point so that everyone knows where to go in the event of a fire.

The third rule is to ensure that any heating and cooking equipment or open flames are kept checked over. This is because they are the main cause of ignition (and then in turn fires). These should be monitored, and they should be turned off when they are not in use.

The fourth rule is to have a fire extinguisher ready to use in your business premises. These should be put in a place that everyone can see and every person should have training in how to use them. You also need to ensure that you have the right extinguisher type for the fires that you are at risk of and if you don’t want any confusion about which to use, a poster can be displayed to confirm this to anyone who may need them.

The fifth safety rule is to deliver training to everyone in the workplace. That way they can all take responsibility for fire safety and know what the main risk are. Not only will this help in the event of a fire, but will also help to prevent fires from happening in the first place.

In order to extinguish a fire there are some simple steps that you can follow. You want to:

  • Cool the fire
  • Smother the fire
  • Starve the fire
  • Interrupt the combustion process

Following these steps is going to give you the best chance of stopping a fire from spreading.

There are six main fire extinguisher types that you can use. These are water, foam, CO2, powder, water mist and wet chemical. Each of these types of extinguisher is going to be suitable for a different type of fire and are identifiable by their colour.

It is important to know which type is going to match which fire, otherwise you can make the situation worse. You can provide training for this, however, you can also display posters around your business for your staff to use in an emergency.

It is important that all staff have even a basic level of training when it comes to fire safety. This will help to ensure that any fires within your business are dealt with effectively and the risk of them spreading and causing damage is reduced.

If you want to ensure that your staff have the basics all covered in fire safety then the key points that you need to cover include:

  • Understanding the fire triangle
  • What to do when discovering a fire
  • The alarm procedure and where designated assembly points are
  • The different types of fires and how to extinguish them using fire extinguishers
  • What to do when someone on the premises has a disability

If they have knowledge and understanding of these things, then they are most likely to have all that they need to help should a fire occur.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 ensures that the scope of the Fire Safety Order is clear and that it is understood that it applies to structure, flat entrances, doors between domestic premises, common areas in multi-occupied buildings and also external walls too.

In order to reduce the risk of fire, reduce the spread and protect those within the premises, general fire precautions need to be followed. These precautions include:

  • Having a means to escape from the building
  • Ensuring that the means to escape and be safely used
  • Providing the equipment needed to fight fires on the site
  • Providing the means to detect fires on the premises as well as being able to give warning in the case of fire
  • Ensuring that all staff are trained in the basics of fire safety and understand measures that can be taken to mitigate the effects of fire

The Fire Safety Order applies to non domestic properties, premises and businesses. These include venues that are open to the public. Fire Safety Orders will apply to theatres, gyms and bars. It also applies to hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses too. It also applies to business premises such as factories, warehouse and storage facilities too.

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