The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Extinguishing Equipment – Part 2

January 12, 2017 11:51 am

In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have a responsibility for or interest in Fire Safety we began in Part 1 to look at a new area of fire safety provision – Fire Extinguishing Equipment. In Part 2 we will continue on this subject, beginning with the requirements of building insurers and how that should impact upon equipment provision.


Building insurers will normally require that fire extinguishing equipment is provided in all non-domestic premises in the hopes that this will reduce the likelihood of serious instances of fire which could damage the building. As there is no requirement for any person to remain in a building when a fire occurs in order to take action to put out the fire, it could be assumed that this would make almost no difference to their assessment. However, it has been proven that this is often not the case and regularly, people will take action against small fires to avoid them spreading, thus providing additional building protection and life protection.


This is most common in situations such as hospitals and care homes where the building occupants are asleep, vulnerable or incapacitated and where full evacuation is a complicated and potentially protracted process.


It can be challenging to prove and quantify the value of fire extinguishing equipment in subduing, controlling or eradicating a fire as published fire statistics relate only to those situations where the Fire Service are called in to deal with the fire. In 1990, however, the Fire Extinguishing Trades Association (now the FIA) released data that member companies had received 927 reports of fires in which such equipment was used.


Astonishingly, 75% of these fires had not been reported to the Fire Service at the time as occupants of the building had extinguished the fire.  Within the remaining 25%, a significant number reported that the fire had been extinguished by people with fire extinguishing equipment prior to attendance by the Fire Service. In fact, only 11% of those reported related to fires that had been extinguished by the Fire Service.


While all instances of fire should be reported to the Fire Service, these figures indicate that fire extinguishing equipment has a vital role to play in ensuring that small fires can be extinguished prior to them becoming larger fires.


The nature of the survey was repeated in 2002 by Eurofeu and the findings were very similar to the earlier report. In this survey, 83% of fires were extinguished using fire extinguishing equipment, with 78% of them not reported to the Fire Service.


In the next blog, part 3, we will begin looking at the different types of portable fire extinguisher and how they should be used. 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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