The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire extinguishing appliances – Part 217

September 4, 2023 2:15 pm

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 216, LWF began to look at fire extinguishing appliances. In part 217, we continue to discuss fire extinguishing appliances, starting with the requirements of fire insurers.

Fire insurers have their own requirements that the insured party should adhere to in order to obtain and maintain effective insurance coverage from fire. One such requirement is that in the vast majority of cases, fire insurers will require non-domestic buildings to have fire extinguishing appliances provided as appropriate.

While there can be no requirement that building occupants use the first-aid fire extinguishing equipment in an effort to prevent property damage, it is certainly the case that such equipment may contribute towards limiting property damage if used in the early stages of a fire, as well as contributing towards the safety of building occupants. Extinguishers, fire blankets, hose reels etc. are considered especially useful in premises where people sleep and those where there may be challenges in evacuating people – such as hospitals and residential care homes.

All staff should be trained in the basic use of fire extinguishing appliances as a part of their fire safety training, but any staff who are tasked with any particular responsibilities should receive more in-depth training in their use.

There is an almost ironic lack of information on how effective fire extinguishing appliances are and how often they are used. This is because fire statistics only relate to incidents where the Fire Service attended and if a small fire was put out using a fire extinguisher, or a kitchen fire doused with a fire blanket, the occupants may decide summoning the Fire Service is not necessary.

A little over 30 years ago, the Fire Extinguishing Trades Association (now part of the Fire Industry Association) carried out a survey of its member companies and received reports of 927 fires in which fire extinguishing appliances were used. 75% of the incidents did not involve the Fire Service and the fires were extinguished on site by members of staff. A number of the fires that were reported were already extinguished before the arrival of the Fire Service. It was shown, in fact, that only 11% of the reported fires were extinguished by the Fire Service.

A survey was also undertaken in 2002 in conjunction with Eurofeu and the findings were similar.

It should be noted, however, that all fires should be reported to the Fire Service, who should be summoned immediately in the event of any fire.

In part 218 of this series, LWF will discuss portable fire extinguishers. 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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