Q: How exactly does my fire extinguisher work?
A: Fire extinguishers work by removing one or more components of the fire triangle. The fire triangle is the collective name for the three elements required to create and sustain a fire. These elements are heat, oxygen and fuel. The simplest elements to remove are heat and oxygen. For example a water jet fire extinguisher works by using the cooling effect of the water to remove the heat from the triangle, whereas a CO2 extinguisher removes the oxygen. A foam extinguisher aims to remove both, with the foam acting as a cooling agent but also a barrier to prevent further oxygen from reaching the fuel source.

Q: Which fire extinguisher for the home?
A: A variety of extinguishers are commonly used in the home depending on the situation. The main types of extinguisher to use would be:

  • Foam
  • CO2
  • Wet Chemical

For most residential properties a simple foam extinguisher is recommended. If you have a lot of electrical equipment you may find a CO2 extinguisher useful, and if you have a chip pan or deep fat fryer in your kitchen a wet chemical extinguisher is perfect.

Q: Do I need a fire extinguisher for my work vehicle?
A: Business vehicles are not legally required to carry a fire extinguisher. However, if your legally mandated fire risk assessment flags your work vehicle as a risk then you will need to comply. Car extinguishers are a compact way of keeping your work vehicles safe. Exceptions do apply- for taxis and vehicles for hire local authorities can require a fire extinguisher to be kept on hand. Some vehicles comply under the ADR regulations which will then stipulate the type and size of extinguisher required - this is normally when carrying 'risk' classified items. If you have a business of this nature it is worth checking with your relevant local authority to make sure you are within compliance. Vehicles carrying dangerous goods should carry at least one ABC fire extinguisher, with the specific amount determined by the vehicle weight.

Q: Which fire extinguisher for electrical fires, such as a computer in the office?
A: The CO2 fire extinguisher is suitable for use on fires involving electrical equipment.
Q: Which fire extinguisher for petrol?
A: ABC Dry Powder (As advised for forecourts)
Q: Which fire extinguisher for carbonaceous material?
A: Water fire extinguisher / Foam
Q: Which fire extinguisher for waste paper or cardboard?
A: Water fire extinguisher / Foam
Q: British Standards EN3 requires all extinguishers to be colour coded to what percentage of the extinguisher?
A: A minimum of 90% of the extinguisher body must be red. A concession was made in the latest standard for a small zone of colour to be available on the body of the extinguisher to further help identify the contents of the extinguisher. A colour zone of up to 10% of the surface area of the extinguisher (with a minimum of 3%) can be positioned on the top half of the front of the extinguisher body and be visible from a 180 degree angle.

Q: What else do I need to satisfy a fire risk assessment?
A: Each fire risk assessment is unique, however standard advice is that aside from fire extinguishers you should also have correctly installed and maintained smoke alarms, emergency lighting, and clear signage.

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