UK fire extinguisher regulations fall under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). As the legislation covers many areas, it can be difficult to interpret and understand every detail. As most businesses and premises fall under these regulations, with the exception of a select few, we’re here to help you understand what is required. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide that outlines all you need to know about UK fire extinguisher regulations.
How many extinguishers should a business have?
Where there is a risk of fire within a premise, a fire extinguisher should be available for use. Generally, UK fire extinguisher regulations recommend that there should be two class-A fire extinguishers available on every storey of a building. A class-A fire is categorised as involving combustible materials, like wood, paper, rubber and plastics. Class A-rated extinguishers are suitable for extinguishing fires that involve any of these combustible materials.
To meet regulations, your fire extinguishers can be 3-litre, 6-litre and 9-litre, depending on the size of the building. The risk status of the building will also determine how many are required, as some buildings have a higher risk than others.
Other fire extinguishers you may need
Businesses are likely to need other forms of fire extinguishers on the premises. CO2 extinguishers are commonly required on business premises, as they are used to combat electrical fires. If you are managing an office, for example, you will require this on the premises.
Fire extinguisher regulations state that:
- Any commercial building containing electrical equipment must contain a CO2 fire extinguisher that is a minimum of 2 kilograms in size.
- If there is equipment on site that is rated at 415 volts or more, then a 5kg CO2 fire extinguisher must be fitted to comply with regulations.
There are also dry powder extinguishers and wet chemical extinguishers that you may need depending on the usage of your premises. Dry powder extinguishers help to combat gas risks and should only be used in environments like boiler rooms. Wet chemical extinguishers are designed for use in kitchens.
Where should fire extinguishers be located?
Legislation states that occupants of a building should never be located further than 30 metres from the nearest extinguisher. This is stated in the BS5306 of UK British Standards. CO2 and water-based extinguishers are always located near fire points or fire exits. Depending on how big your building is will depend on how many you will need, as more points and exits require a larger number of extinguishers.
Other specialist extinguishers should always be located at an easy point of access appropriate to the hazard. For example, you should have a wet chemical extinguisher located in the kitchen area if there is a risk of fire present.
Should my fire extinguishers be serviced?
By law, all fire extinguishers must be serviced to BS5306 standards. Fire extinguisher servicing must be carried out on an annual basis to comply with RRO regulations. Having this carried out by a trained professional is advisable so that all servicing is carried out with a thorough, safe approach.
Engineers will examine the overall condition of the extinguishers if the labelling is the pressure and weight, expiry dates and the pin and seal are adequate. A report will then be issued once the service has taken place to determine if they need replacement or not.
You will also be required to perform a monthly check on the extinguisher to keep tabs on the condition, the pressure gauge and the pin and seal. If you are unsure, a trained engineer will advise you on the signs to look for at the time of the servicing. Remember, we at UK Safety Management offer excellent fire extinguisher testing services, so you can depend on us if your equipment is due to be serviced.
Fire extinguisher signage
All extinguishers must have clear signage, with instructions for use that are visible. Coloured stickers should be marked clearly, with the type of extinguisher visibly labelled. Businesses must ensure that all extinguishers are marked with signage, so staff are aware of their location. Also, there must be adequate usage instructions attached to each extinguisher.
What is the commissioning of fire extinguishers?
Any fire extinguisher must be commissioned by a qualified extinguisher engineer, who carries out the appropriate safety checks and inspections so that an extinguisher is approved for use. UK fire extinguisher regulations state that extinguishers are not compliant with legislation until they have been commissioned.
Commissioning engineers to check for the following items:
- The assembly of the extinguisher
- Any damage to the extinguisher
- Correct pressure and weight
- Correctly attached horns and hoses
How do I evidence my RRO certification?
During a health and safety visit, your business will need to provide certification or proof that all fire extinguishers are properly serviced. There are certain things to look out for when a visit occurs:
- Extinguishers will be labelled with a service label detailing the date of the service and when the next inspection is due.
- The service label will record the outcome of the inspection as either refilled, received a basic service or needs replacing (of which this should already have been carried out)
- You should have a copy or copies of the BAFE certificate as proof of your serviced extinguishers.
- The O-Ring on your fire extinguisher will have been replaced.
- An anti-tamper tag should be in place to prevent the pin from being accidentally pulled out. However, if the extinguisher has a plastic pin, then this needs to be replaced on an annual basis.
How often should I replace my fire extinguishers?
BS5306 legislation determines different timeframes for the replacement of extinguishers depending on the type. The recommendations for the different types of extinguishers are as follows:
- Foam, Water or Powder extinguishers: Test by discharge once every five years and replace or refill them.
- CO2 extinguishers: They are hydraulically tested every ten years or replaced.
The BAFE and Environment Agency warn of discharging water-based extinguishers down drains or onto open land, as this will cause environmental hazards. Instead, extinguishers should be replaced at the test point rather than the test discharge. Extinguishers can then be disposed of by experts in an ecological way.
Current legislation advises replacing your fire extinguishers rather than refilling them. Therefore, the cost of replacement and refilling is similar. Extinguishers should be replaced immediately if they are discharged, unsafe or damaged.
Fire extinguisher servicing with UK Safety Management
Fire extinguisher servicing should be carried out by BAFE-certified engineers, who can carry out all the necessary checks in accordance with BS5306 standards.
UK Safety Management specialist engineers have all the expert knowledge and experience required to carry out fire extinguisher servicing, ensuring your business is certified and compliant with legislation.
Contact us today to receive a free, no-obligation quote on any remedial works you require on your premises. We offer fire extinguisher testing and a range of other useful services, including PAT testing and fixed wire testing (EICR). Our friendly, professional team will always be available to assist you with any queries you may have.