Do you really need fire extinguishers?

Do you really need fire extinguishers?

When officers undertake fire safety audits some question the number of fire extinguishers on site.  They claim that in many instances business are being told to buy far more than they actually need.  The worry is that having too many could convince staff that they’re expected to use them in the event of a fire.

Although legally you are required to have a sufficient number of fire extinguishers on the premises, the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) is not keen on staff using them.  One or two breaths of toxic smoke can kill and the ~FRS doesn’t want your staff putting themselves at risk.  Its current line is that the extinguishers ought to be used in limited circumstances only, e.g. to extinguish clothing which has caught alight, to aid escape in the event of fire, or where there are very early signs of fire which can be tacked safely by trained staff.

If you have many extinguishers you may have been the victim of an over enthusiastic salesperson and there could be grounds for a cull, but you shouldn’t get carried away and scrap the lot.  If you do, you’ll fail to comply with your duty to have “appropriate fire-fighting equipment” available to those who may need it.

TIP 1 – The safest option is to consult with whoever completed your fire risk assessment.  They should be able to identify how many you need.  Make it clear that you require the bare minimum as you don’t want to encourage staff to tackle fires.  Alternately get in touch with DjB Training for further guidance.

TIP 2 – Complete a briefing with staff.  Use it to make sure that they are aware that they’re not expected to tackle a fire to save your building.

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