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Not Just A Door Stop – Fire Extinguishers Saves Lives!

17th December 2013
Question: What’s a fire extinguisher for?
Answer: To just prop open the door for a moment while bringing through one or more large heavy objects!

In some offices, factory floors or warehouse spaces, the above answer might well be a reality. It is recommended that fire extinguishers should be placed within 30 metres of workplace employees and sited close to potential fire risk and at room exit doors and stairways.

However, while some types of fire extinguishers are fixed to the wall, a significant number are usually free standing. It’s not uncommon for injury claims to be made for accidents caused by unsecured extinguishers protruding behind doorways, the top or bottom of staircases, which can scrape against elbows, shins or stub toes.

Unfortunately, not only are fire extinguishers a possible cause of minor personal injuries, they can also be stolen or vandalised. There’s every possibility that many employers would have overlooked their duty to ensure they are regularly maintained and ready to be used in the event of a fire. Most types of extinguishers would require to be fully discharged and refilled at set intervals and should be visually inspected regularly and tested or serviced each year.

Employees should also receive training on how to correctly identify and operate the various types of extinguishers. There are countless reports of the incorrect extinguisher being used, which only accelerated the progress of the fire. With an estimated 1,500 fire-related injuries reported each year around Britain, it is crucial to ensure a fire policy is put into place, including regular building evacuation drills.

In 2006, the annual fire certificate was replaced when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force, bringing all fire safety legislation under one single order. The new regulations require that all businesses, however small, must carry out a fire risk assessment and decide on fire detection, alert and equipment needed.

Six in every ten fires takes place while employees are on work premises and between 2011 and 2012, RIDDOR reported that fire was one of the major causes contributing to one in seven deaths and one in 100 non-fatal injuries in the workplace.