The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire extinguishing appliances – Part 224

October 23, 2023 11:08 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 223, LWF discussed the agents used in Class F extinguishers before looking at the relevant standards. In part 224, we begin to consider the siting of fire extinguishers.

BS 5306-8 Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises – Selection and positioning of portable fire extinguishers – Code of Practice gives formal guidance on where to place fire extinguishers in buildings.

Fire extinguishers should be placed in prominent locations on escape routes from a building, such as storey exits and in corridors. They should normally be wall-mounted on brackets at approximate hand/hip height (to allow for easy removal by the user). Where wall-mounting is not possible, they may be placed on specially-designed floor stands, but they should never be left free-standing in case they are moved, removed or knocked over.

A fire extinguisher should be within 30 metres when a person is at any point within the building.

Effective fire safety management and fire risk assessment practices for a building means that consideration should be given to what kind of fire might result in certain areas. A part of this should relate to the provision of first-aid fire equipment that is most relevant in an area. For example, a CO2 extinguisher is often provided in the area of a photocopying machine.

It would not be necessary to place relevant extinguishers right next to all office equipment, however, but rather it is appropriate to place the most likely to be required extinguishers at the normal fire points which are situated at storey exits.  A large, open-plan office might warrant a couple of extra suitable extinguishers sited within the office area.

A fire extinguisher that complies with BS EN 3 will be marked with a rating to indicate the maximum size of test fire it is possible to extinguish when the canister is used by a skilled operative. The class A and class B ratings can determine the correct number of extinguishers need in a given area. BS 5306-8 recommends the class A rating of extinguishers in an area should be calculated 0.065 x floor area in square metres.

A 9 litre water extinguisher usually gains a 13A rating, so each 9 litre extinguisher may be sufficient for a floor area of 200 m2. The combined rating of all extinguishers on a building’s storey should generally not be less than 26A, unless in a building of single occupancy with an upper floor of less than 100 m2, where 13A on each floor is considered sufficient.

In some large buildings, the number of Class A extinguishers may be reduced where hose reels are provided.

In part 225 of this series, LWF will discuss fire blankets and hose reels. 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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