Guide to Fire Extinguishers and Fire Signage

Having proper fire safety equipment in the workplace is of utmost importance to ensure the health and safety of everyone, most especially the staff. Thus, every company in the UK, regardless of the industry, is required by law to have fire extinguishers. All employees, and everyone who visits the premises, must have adequate means to protect themselves in case of a fire.

Fire safety in the workplace should be considered a top priority for every employer in the UK. Businesses should never underestimate the importance of investing in proper fire equipment and installing fire signages. To know more about these, here’s a guide to fire extinguishers and fire signages.

What is Fire Safety

Fire safety refers to a set of procedures that aim to lessen fire-related damages and injuries in the workplace. These usually begin with a risk assessment to identify and minimise the areas that are at high risk to fire. After the assessment, the next step is to come up with an emergency evacuation plan. The plan should help to ensure that everyone stays safe in the event of a fire.

In most cases, the initial reaction in case of a fire is to spray it with water.  But using water to try to extinguish fire will only make the situation worse. It is best to use a fire extinguisher when trying to put out a fire. This equipment is made for the sole purpose of extinguishing different types of fires.

Having a proper fire prevention plan is necessary for any businesses, especially those that carry a higher risk of fire, such as those companies that store combustible wastes and chemicals in their premises. These companies should have adequate fire prevention plan and supply an accessible fire safety course to protect both the business and the employees in the event of a fire.

What Fire Extinguishers Do You Need?

Remember that there are different types of fire extinguishers. So how do you know which fire extinguisher to get for your business? The answer will mainly depend on the types of fire that you will be dealing with. Fires are classified into six different categories, and there’s a corresponding fire extinguisher for each category of fire.

  • Class A – fires that are due to solid materials like paper, wood, textiles, etc.
  • Class B – fires that have something to do with flammable liquids such as petrol and paint.
  • Class C – fires that involve gases that are flammable such as propane and methane.
  • Class D – fires including flammable metals such as titanium, magnesium, etc.
  • Class E – fires involving electrical equipment such as fuse boxes, computers, etc.
  • Class F – fires that occur in a commercial kitchen and involve cooking oil and other oil-based ingredients.

You should use a fire extinguisher designed to put out the type of fire that you could encounter in your business premises. This is a very important factor to consider when it comes to implementing fire safety policy at work. A qualified or trained expert will perform a risk assessment in your premises to identify the possible types of fire that are most likely to take place in your workplace. From here, it would be easy to determine which type of fire extinguisher you should install.

Here are the different types of fire extinguishers and when they should be used:

  • CO2 fire extinguishers – used for Class B fires, including fires that involve a large amount of electrical equipment, and has a black label.
  • Dry powder fire extinguishers – can be used for Class A, B, and C fires, including electrical fires. This fire extinguisher will have a blue label.
  • Foam fire extinguishers – used to put out Class A and B fires and comes with a cream label.
  • Water fire extinguishers – used specifically for Class A fires and comes with a red label.
  • Wet chemical fire extinguishers – used primarily for Class F fires, such as those in a commercial kitchen setting that involves cooking oil. These extinguishers can also be used for Class A and B fires and come with a yellow label.

What Fire Signs Do You Need?

Aside from having the right equipment to put out a fire, establishments are also required to have a fire safety plan that every staff member should be familiar with. The plan should include designating fire safety signs, each having a distinctive colour that’s associated with their respective area of fire safety. Below are the different colours used for fire safety signs.

  • Red – this indicates the location of the firefighting equipment, which allows for easy identification during an emergency. Aside from the fire extinguishers, the other firefighting equipment includes fire hoses, fire buckets, and fire blankets. These signs must also include additional information on how each equipment should be used.
  • Green – this refers to the location of exit doors and escape routes during an emergency. Some of these may come with a backlight to allow for increased visibility during the dark and make sure that people will be able to locate these escape routes during a fire and other emergencies.
  • Yellow – these signs indicate dangerous substances within the premises that must be handled very carefully. The signs often include words like “Caution” or “Danger” to stress their importance since these substances can lead to major destruction if not handled properly.
  • Blue – these are instructions concerning fire safety, including tips on what to do in case of fire. Also known as “Fire Action Notices”, these provide important information on what should be done in case of fire. These notices include colour-coded instructions of what to do, where to go, what to look for, etc.
  • White with red – these are prohibition signs, which usually come in the form of a white sign and has a red circle and a diagonal line, representing the classic “DO NO” symbol over any image.

As per the Regulatory Reform Order 2005, different fire safety signs must be installed onsite that will provide information regarding emergency exits, visual markers on where the firefighting equipment is located, and practical ways of how to raise the alarm.