The LWF Blog

Facilities Management – Correct placement of fire extinguishers and appropriate training

April 15, 2014 11:09 am

In last week’s blog we looked at differentiating between types of fire extinguisher using the colour codes and understanding which extinguisher would work best for which fire. In this blog, we give our attention to the correct placing of a fire extinguisher and how this can help to save time, and sometimes lives. Additionally, we look at the importance of adequate training on the use of fire extinguishers for staff members in your facility.

Where should fire extinguishers be placed in my facility?

Ideal placement of extinguishers should bear the following points in mind:

  • Different extinguishers should be grouped together in one area which is communal, i.e. as part of the escape route, in a corridor or stairway, but not blocking the escape route.
  • The area should be cool, but not liable to freezing. Extreme heat or cold can damage the canisters and contents.
  • When servicing multiple floors based on the same layout, placement should be at the same situation, avoiding confusion when fire breaks out.
  • Fire extinguishers can be hung on wall brackets or if this is impractical, stood on base plates on the ground.
  • The size and strength of the potential user – A full size 9 litre fire extinguisher can weigh as much as 18kg. It may be necessary to provide a smaller extinguisher with a lower lifting weight for some sections of the community, e.g. the elderly or those with physical disabilities.
  • Extinguishers which are specifically for electrical use, ie. powder or carbon dioxide containing fire extinguishers, should be kept close to the equipment, rather than in the communal area.
  • Fire extinguishers should not be kept in corrosive or damp atmospheres for extended periods without overhaul or renewal, as this can affect the effective operation.

What training should my staff have in fire extinguisher use?

It is perhaps most essential to note that all staff should have fire extinguisher usage training, along with their fire safety training. This includes temporary and contract staff who may work in the building for a short amount of time. As it is not possible to know who may first discover a fire, it is important that every person has the skills and knowledge necessary to deal with it appropriately.

Ideally, this fire safety and fire extinguisher training should take place on the first day of employment in the facility as part of their induction, particularly in the case of security staff or those working in potentially hazardous environments. The training should be repeated on an annual basis for existing staff.

In addition to general and building specific fire safety training, the fire extinguisher part of the course should touch upon the following areas:

  • Placement of the fire extinguishers
  • Types of fire extinguisher and their uses
  • Types of fire and if/how they should be extinguished
  • How to operate fire extinguishers and demonstrations of all types to illustrate differences in noise, consistency and use
  • Types of liquid fire and the differences between flowing and contained liquid fires.
  • The switching off of power which feeds the source of an electrical fire
  • LPG and gas fuelled fires

Staff should be asked to follow basic safety procedures when attempting to use a fire extinguisher on a fire in its early stages. Ideally, any attempt to extinguish a fire should be done in pairs and within the first few minutes of a fire, before it has spread and only after raising the alarm.

The emphasis should be on life safety, first and foremost. While it is most important to ensure the people within your facility are safe, it is true however, that small fires which are approached in the early stages, with the correct fire extinguishing equipment, can be stopped in their tracks, avoiding situations with increased danger and facility damage.

If you would like more information on fire safety training, fire extinguisher training or would like your training to be custom-designed for your facility by a professional third party, please contact Peter Gyere on 0208  668 8663.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 

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