All businesses of a certain size in the UK are required, by law, to complete a fire risk assessment. These assessments should be revisited and updated on a regular basis. One of the key components of any fire risk assessment is the adequate provision of suitable fire-fighting equipment.
While no members of staff should ever put their own lives in danger by tackling a fire, there are certain circumstances when it may be prudent to tackle a small blaze.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
An essential addition to any company’s fire safety arsenal, portable fire extinguishers are suitable for tackling small fires, thereby preventing this initial outbreak turning into a major blaze. As they are intended for anyone to use, this type of fire extinguisher is simple to operate. Instructions for their use are always printed on the extinguishers themselves.
However, all staff should be fully aware of the correct operating procedure beforehand so that they do not put themselves or their colleagues in unnecessary danger.
Portable extinguishers are the first step in preventing a small blaze getting out of control. Along with automatic fire curtains, they play an important role in stopping a fire spreading throughout a building. In addition to water, foam, CO2 and chemical extinguishers, portable fire-fighting equipment can be as simple as a fire bucket containing water or sand.
Sprinklers and Mist Systems
Working in conjunction with structural safety equipment such as fire curtains, sprinkler systems are a highly effective way of suppressing fires. The most common form of sprinkler system is the wet pipe variety. Wet pipe sprinklers are permanently filled with pressured water. In premises where there is a likelihood of pipes freezing and therefore becoming inoperative, either dry pipe or pre-action systems are the better choices.
Unlike sprinklers, which release solid jets of water, misting systems emit a very fine spray. This mist has the effect of reducing the amount of oxygen in the immediate vicinity, thereby starving the fire. Misting systems also cause less structural damage to buildings, particularly if the fire is only relatively small.
As part of the fire risk assessment, all fire safety equipment should be effectively maintained and regularly serviced by a professional fire safety company. The combination of properly maintained equipment and fully trained staff should hopefully ensure that a business is adequately prepared should a fire break out.