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December 22, 2008

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Fire safety- Extinguishing features

The legislation requires that any equipment provided to protect people from, or to mitigate the effects of, fire is designed, installed, commissioned, and maintained by competent people, and that such equipment is “subject to a suitable system of maintenance and maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order, and in good repair”.

Much emphasis has been placed on the provision of fire detection and alarm (FD&A) systems by companies that have been approved to third-party certification schemes, but what about other equipment provided in premises, such as portable fire extinguishers?

Almost all non-domestic premises in the UK will be provided with portable fire extinguishers. However, unlike FD&A systems, which can be tested by the end-user on a regular basis to see if they function correctly, the only time an end-user will find out if an extinguisher does function is if they need to use it in an emergency.

In the same way as different fire-detection devices are more suitable for different fire risks, the ‘responsible person’ needs to ensure that they have the correct type and adequate provision of fire extinguishers. Portable fire extinguishers should be selected and installed in accordance with British Standard 5306-8: 2000 and maintained to BS 5306-3:2003.

You can be sure that your portable fire extinguisher provider or maintainer is operating to these standards if they are registered to BAFE ST104. They should also be approved to the BAFE SP101 Scheme Specification for Contract Maintenance of Portable Fire Extinguishers. This scheme requires that the provider has a BS EN ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System, certificated by a UKAS-accredited third-party certification body, and that its technicians are registered on the ST104 scheme.

To find out more about fire-extinguisher safety, visit

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