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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire extinguishing appliances – Part 216

August 29, 2023 11:27 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 215, LWF talked about how to avoid the numerous potential sound pitfalls when designing a voice alarm system. In part 216, we begin to look at fire extinguishing appliances.

The types of fire extinguishing appliances found in most buildings will fall into one of the following:

  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • Trolley-mounted extinguishers
  • Fire Blankets
  • Hydraulic hose reels

Trolley-mounted fire extinguishers are only employed for special applications, where trained occupants may need to tackle a large fire, such as one that involves a large quantity of flammable liquids.

The other three categories are found in most buildings for first-aid fire-fighting purposes.

What fire extinguishing appliances are required in a building?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order requires that fire extinguishing equipment is provided where it is necessary to safeguard relevant persons in the event of a fire. The Housing Act 2004 has similar requirements for houses in multiple occupation.

Commonly, either portable fire extinguishers or hose reels are provided, although it might be beneficial to consider hose reels as supplementary to portable fire extinguishers, rather than as an alternative. A fire extinguisher is much more portable and quick to deploy, meaning it can be utilised in subduing a fire very quickly. A hose reel may take longer to run out the hose, but can provide an unlimited quantity of extinguishing agent and so can tackle a fire for longer.

The Fire Service tend to be not greatly in favour of hose reels for the very reason that they may be used for longer in first-aid firefighting, it is thought that this may encourage building occupants to remain in the building for a longer period then appropriate. There are other potential issues in using a fire hose reel, including that the rolled out hose may be laid along the floor for some distance, preventing the closure of fire doors and potentially permitting the dangerous spread of smoke and fire. The likelihood of the fire hose being left in such a position when the individuals do evacuate the building is considerable and this also means that conditions will be particularly dangerous for firefighters entering the building to put out the fire.

In part 217 of this series, LWF will continue to discuss fire extinguishing appliances. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 35 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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