The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Extinguishing Equipment – Part 1

January 5, 2017 2:44 pm

In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have a responsibility for or interest in Fire Safety we begin to look at a new area of fire safety provision in part 1 – Fire Extinguishing Equipment.


While the occurrence of a fire in your premises may necessitate the need for an immediate evacuation of building occupants without any remedial action being taken, it can be the case that a small fire can be suppressed with the use of fire extinguishing equipment before it becomes a danger to people or to the building itself.


Some commonly found equipment in buildings is:


Portable Fire Extinguishers

Trolley-mounted Fire Extinguishers

Fire Blankets

Hydraulic Hose Reels


We will discuss each of those in more detail through the course of this blog series, but will begin with looking at the need for such equipment in the first place.


The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order states that fire extinguishing equipment should be provided where necessary to safeguard people in the event of a fire. Equally, the Housing Act 2004 requires that houses in multiple occupation may have similar requirements.


While extinguishers and hose reels may be seen as interchangeable options, in fact, it might be advisable to consider hose reels supplementary to fire extinguishers rather than as an alternative. A fire extinguisher can be used very quickly – they simply work when triggered and are aimed at the source of the fire. Hose reels, by contrast, must be rolled out which takes additional time, but at that point can dispel an unlimited supply of extinguishing agent.


While the quick fix nature of an extinguisher means that a small fire might be suppressed quickly, the use of a hose reel can mean that in theory, the person or persons using it may stay in the building with the fire for longer than is safe. Indeed, the continued provision of extinguishing agent might mean that someone feels they should stay and attempt to put the fire out long after an evacuation should be effected. The Fire Service, for this reason, are said to be not in favour of hose reels for use by lay persons.


In addition, hose reels can have another unfortunate and potentially dangerous side-effect. The length of the hose means that it could be trailed through to another area where there is fire, potentially forcing open fire doors which are in place to stop fire and smoke spreading from one compartment or area of the building to the next.


In part 2 of this series, we will continue to look at Fire Extinguishing Equipment, beginning with Building Insurer requirements. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance 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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