Knowing your fire extinguisher

05/10/2010 - 00:00
According to the UK's fire safety industry, 80% of workplace fires are put out using portable fire extinguishers which is saving lives and preventing thousands of injuries every year. But are employees keeping up with the latest training when it comes to fires and extinguishers? We find out.

Here is a basic guide so workplaces can identify their fire risks and make sure they have the correct fire extinguishers in place:- Water – Red Ideal for fires involving solid materials such as wood, paper and textiles etc. Not to be used with liquid fires such as oils and fats, electrical fires and fires involving flammable gases. Dry Powder – Blue Multi purpose versions are good for solid materials, liquid fires, flammable gas fires and some electrical fires. However because the powder doesn't cool the fire in the same way that water does in some cases fires can reignite. Foam – Cream Good for extinguishing solid materials and fires involving liquids but foam conducts electricity so it shouldn't be used on electrical fires or fires involving flammable gases. Carbon Dioxide – Black Good for fires involving liquids because it has a rapid smoothering effect and leaves no residue and can also be used on electrical fires and very small fires involving solid materials. Can't be used on fires involving flammable gases. Lee Wright, marketing director of Slingsby, explained: "The fact that the humble fire extinguisher is responsible for putting out more fires than the Fire Brigade is testament to the steps that UK workplaces are taking to keep employees safe and protect their premises. In fact, the true value of fire extinguishers in the workplace is probably underestimated because the majority of fires often go unreported. "In most cases workplaces are required by law to have suitable fire extinguishers located at accessible points around the premises. Usually one water based extinguisher is required for every 200m2 of floor space, with a minimum of one extinguisher per floor, but in large or more complex premises, and depending on individual risks, a greater number or range of extinguishers is likely to be required." Lee added: "As well as positioning the right equipment in the right places, it is equally important that employees receive relevant training in using fire extinguishers and other equipment. Workplaces also need to regularly check that the types of fire extinguishers that they have in various locations on their premises are still relevant to the potential risks."

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