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Regulations governing the use of fire extinguishers in England and Wales come under the ‘Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – commonly known as the RRO. Virtually every commercial business premises, with very few exceptions, come under these regulations.   As with much legislation that affects the workplace, fire extinguisher regulations aren’t straightforward. On a positive note, this legislation has had a huge impact in reducing the number of fires in commercial business across the UK.

To help business owners understand their legal obligations under the RRO, the team at Hartson Fire has come up with a simple guide which covers the main questions we are usually asked.

  1. How many fire extinguishers does a business need to have?

According to UK fire extinguisher regulations, the owner of a commercial premises should install at least two ‘Class A’ fire extinguishers on every floor of the building. Class A extinguishers are the type that put out wood or paper fires. The types of fire extinguishers you can purchase to be compliant with these regulations include 3, 6 or 9 litre water / foam extinguishers.

  1. What other types of fire extinguishers should be installed in a commercial building?

The types of fire extinguishers you will need to install in a commercial building will depend on the nature of the activities you carry out. Again, the amount and type of extinguisher is determined by the UK fire extinguisher regulations. All business premises with electrical equipment should have a minimum of a 2kg CO2 extinguisher. If the equipment in your building over 415 volts, you will need a 5kg fire extinguisher.

As virtually every building has an electricity supply to run equipment (from office computers to heavy plant), most buildings tend to have a CO2 and foam extinguisher in place to be legally compliant.

The other types of extinguisher a business may need include:

  • Wet chemical extinguishers for use in kitchens where there are deep fat fryers
  • Dry powder extinguishers for use in a gas risk area.

The ‘What Do I Need’ Section of our website includes a list of the different types of premises and the types of extinguishers you need for these premises.

  1. Where should fire extinguishers be located?

The most common fire extinguishers, ie the foam and C02 ones, should be located by fire alarm points and exits to the building. If the building has more fire alarm points or exits than the required number of extinguishers, then you need to apply the 30 metre rule as determined by UK British Standards (BS5306). The rule states that the no person should be more than 30 metres away from a fire extinguisher on any floor of the building.

More specialist extinguishers, like powder or wet chemical ones, need to be located within easy reach of the potential hazard (like a deep fat fryer in the kitchen).

  1. Where should fire extinguishers be fitted?

To comply with fire extinguisher regulations, extinguishers should be either fixed to the wall, or placed on a stand attached to a stand. This will ensure that the extinguishers are not moved from their specific location as determined by the law.

When you purchase your fire extinguishers, they will come with clear and visible ID signs fixed to the wall or stand. These signs will include an explanation of the individual extinguishers along with directions on how and when to use them.

  1. Where to buy fire extinguishers

You can purchase fire extinguishers for your commercial premises from a fire protection company in your local area, like Hartson Fire in Swansea, or from online specialists.

You must make sure that the extinguishers that you purchase come with all ID signs and relevant fixings and are clearly labelled with the type of extinguisher you have purchased.

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

The regulations state that fire extinguishers must be serviced once a year by a competent person. This competent person should be someone with BAFE qualifications or equivalent.

The extinguisher service should check:

  • Expiry date
  • Condition
  • Signs of tampering
  • Correct weight and pressure
  • Condition of the hose and pin
  • Clarity of labelling and instructions

At the end of the service, the engineer will give you report and advise if any of the fire extinguishers need to be replaced to ensure you comply with regulations.

CO2 Fire extinguishers need to be replaced every 10 years. All other types of fire extinguishers require a ‘discharge test’ every 5 years.

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

You will need this report to demonstrate that the service has been carried out should you be subject to a safety or fire brigade audit. This report will show the date of the service, when the next one is due and if any action was carried out or recommended.

Hartson Fire

At Hartson Fire, we not only sell a complete range of fire extinguishers for all types of commercial premises from our Swansea depot or online shop, we also offer servicing, fire risk assessments and fire safety training. To find out more, call us today on 01792 218214 or 07971 747424.