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Asking on behalf of a friend. Fire Extinguishers at Work ?
Extinguishers aren't really my field (I just do f/a servicing and faults), but can anyone help out my friend please?


Anyone got any experience of Fire Safety Risk Assessments and the use of fire extinguishers _not_ under a maintenance contract?

We're in the process of setting up our new unit and invited the local Fire Service fire safety advisor to come and give it the once-over, and as well as giving advice on extinguishers, which was expected, he also said we should have buttons and bells at front and back doors and emergency lighting, which wasn't expected.

The extinguishers seem to be a bit of a murky area, where most people opt for a contract but there seem to be many small companies that just buy new extinguishers e.g. every 3 years (dep on warranty), and just replace them, with no 'expert' inspection during that warranty period. The Fire Service chap said that was fine, providing it was in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements. I'm trying to bottom-out what specific mfr's actually say, but anyone with experience in this area would be most welcome to share any advice?

We will be talking with the landlords about the buttons & bells, as even a battery-powered system will cost £380 and seems to need to be installed by an 'competent person', that term that crops up frequently in HSE etc guidelines.

Emergency lighting is dependent upon the type of use as well as the type of building, and another £600-odd that we'd rather not have to pay in its entirety, although the landlord may say it's not their responsibility, which may be true and we've already signed the lease without realising any of this might crop up (beyond the extinguishers, that is).

I've found a template for writing a formal Fire Safety Risk Assessment, which is/will be required once we have more than 5 employees, and we're at 4 or 5 now, dependent upon how you count part time and self-employed people. I'm inclined to try and just get this sorted properly, without spending excessive amounts or tying us up with burdensome inspection regimes, so we're clear to take on more people later this year as that is what we are expecting to need to do it's busy busy busy these days!
Virtually all manufacturers of extinguishers designed for commercial use require full servicing to BS5306-3 not only as part of normal instructions but also as part of the terms of any warranty.

Extinguishers of the disposable type are usually not intended for use outside of the residential and leisure industry and often not suitable(too small, wrong contents) - these are rare now as the low price means a lot of residential, automotive and leisure extinguishers are just the commercial ones either shrink wrapped or repackaged in commercial POS packaging and so the top paragraph applies.

The Fire Safety Order requires a suitable scheme of maintenance for general fire precautions and unless the fire safety officer has dared to put his advice in black and white will normally mean BSEN3 approved equipment with annual servicing to BS5306-3.

Whilst the 'Entry Level Guide' does refer to "It may be acceptable to have multi-purpose fire extinguishers with a guaranteed shelf life" the main models this was based around, the EN3 kitemarked aerosol BC & ABC Fire extinguishers which were a case of user inspection only and bin after 5 years, haven't existed for years (as Firemaster who made them went bust).

Britannia make the P50 range which is supposed to last you at least 10 years with the only checks carried out by the user:

Its ultimately down to the Responsible Person & Risk Assessor to put their necks on the line (literally as they are the ones who end up in the dock) and decide what is appropriate - in theory if you thought a few water filled fire buckets would be adequate and just justify it rationally you could just do that! (You would need to be brave though)
Anthony Buck
Fire Safety Technical Lead @ BAFE SP205 accredited company
Extinguisher specialist
I passed on your message (well, I showed him this thread) and this is his reply:


Thanks very much for the below - interesting indeed - and sorry for the slow reply. Thought I would dig around a bit more and then let you know.

The upshot is that the 'Britannia' extinguishers appear to be the only ones that have mfr-approved 'simple' servicing, you can do yourself, but they are expensive (£150+VAT each, although that does include commissioning).

Compared with deals such as:
(that Andy Wells recommended) where the extinguisher is £36 and they offer professional commissioning at another £6 per extuinguisher), and annual servicing at £9 per (both with a £25 site visit charge), you only start to save with the Brittannia ones in the 10th year, and you've had to do the annual inspection and recording yourself.

Hence, this appears to be a no-brainer as you can get a proper chap to do it for you and it's not much different in cost to the budget option that is definitely outside the mfr's requirements and not going to stand up to rigorous examination.

So, thanks very much for your insight and contacts.

So it looks like he has a solution. Thanks.

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