Fire extinguishers are an item most of us see day to day, in the office or out in public spaces, but do you know what to do if you were suddenly in need of one?

Around 85% of all fire outbreaks are successfully put out by portable fire extinguishers.  This not only saves people’s lives and the cost of major damages, but also saves the fire service time and money on unnecessary call outs.

Particularly in businesses, staff are quick to claim knowledge of the use of a fire extinguisher, but when tested, most are less than confident.  Fire extinguisher training doesn’t have to be expensive as there are now many alternatives such as DVDs and online training.  However, simply watching a video about what to do doesn’t mean you are fully trained – a test of this knowledge is very important in gaining a true understanding.  If budget isn’t an issue for your company, real life hands-on training is obviously the best way to learn all you need to use a fire extinguisher appropriately and safely.

As well as the actual use of the equipment, it is important that you can choose the right extinguisher for the job.  There are five main types of extinguishers, all with their own specific use on particular classes of fire.

Water (shown with a red band) – for use on solids such as furniture, wood, textiles and paper (Class A fire). Remember water is NOT to be used on electrical fires.

Dry Powder (shown with a blue band) – for use on solids, paper, textiles and wood (Class A).  Also suitable for flammable gas (Class C) and liquid fires (Class B) such as petrol.  The dry powder is also safe to use on electrical fires.  Remember it is NOT suitable for alcohol or cooking oil fires.

Foam (shown with a cream band) – For use on solids, textiles and paper (Class A).  Also suitable for flammable liquids (Class B).  NOT suitable for electrical fires, alcohol or cooking oil.

CO2 (shown with a black band) – Suitable for electrical fires or flammable liquids (Class B).  NOT suitable for alcohol or cooking oil.

Wet Chemical (shown with a yellow band) – Usually found in kitchens, this extinguisher is suitable for cooking oil and fat fires (Class F).

From looking at this list you may assume that the Dry Powder extinguisher is all that you will need as it is suitable for most cases of fire.  However, trying to save expense on fire safety could end up costing you more in the long run.  Although powder extinguishers are versatile, they are also incredibly messy and can cause very poor visibility.  Therefore they are not advised in office environments or somewhere where there may be expensive stock, clothes or equipment.  If you are unsure what extinguishers would be needed for your premises, it is advisable to seek an expert opinion from a FETA/FIA trained professional.

Our fully qualified fire safety department here at Keybury not only provide fire extinguishers, but can also arrange training, carry out regular services and maintenance.