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How to Store Flammable Substances Safely

Storing flammable substances safely is very important to reduce the risk of fires breaking out on your premises. If you are working with or regularly use substances that can be ignited easily, then here are some tips to ensure you are looking after them properly.

What are flammable substances?

To start with, let’s explain what flammable substances are. Take a look around. Chances are you encounter these on a daily basis. Flammable or combustible substances range from basic cleaning fluids and cooking oil to aerosols, fuel and gases such as propane.

The definition of a flammable substance is one that ignites or burns easily. These materials can be either in solid, liquid or gas form and are common in both domestic and commercial environments.

Clear labelling should be used to indicate those materials that are highly flammable. If you are storing a large volume of these substances, then you should make sure that appropriate hazard labelling is used in storage areas.

Why do fires start?

For a fire to start, there are three key ingredients that must be present – fuel, heat and oxygen. All it takes is a spark to start it off. So the key to preventing fires is to keep these components apart and away from ignition sources.

What are flash points?

All flammable liquids and gases have a flash point, which is a temperature that their vapour will ignite at, if exposed to a spark.

If you’re storing flammable liquids and gases, you should be aware of their flash point and make sure they are kept safely below this temperature.

Ventilate storage areas

If vapours from flammable liquids or gases escape and build up this can cause an explosion, therefore if you are storing large quantities of these, you’ll need to make sure there is a constant flow of air to diffuse any vapours.

Heat and ignition sources should not be present

Fires can start from something as simple as a tiny spark. Common ignition sources include electrical appliances, heaters, lights, naked flames and cigarettes. Effort should be made to keep ignition sources as far away from stores of flammables as possible.

If smoking is allowed on your premises, it’s best to enforce strict rules keeping smokers in certain specified areas, so that accidents do not occur.

Containers should be secure

Flammable liquids and gases should be stored in secure containers. Regular checks for damage should be carried out to minimize the risk of leaks. Canisters should be placed on a flat surface, ideally on the ground and kept upright. If a container shows signs of damage, including denting or bulging, it should be replaced immediately. Don’t attempt to repair or remove faulty valves or unless you are properly trained to do so.

Exchange for less flammable materials

The safest way to minimize the risks associated with flammable materials is to remove them all together, or replace with less dangerous substances. If you can’t avoid or replace substances, only store the amount you intend to use. Don’t stock up on flammables unnecessarily.

Separate storage areas

Keep storage locations for flammables away from areas where there are people, doors, exits, stairways and other means of escape. Ideally dangerous substances should be spread out, so that large quantities aren’t stored in one place.

Storing a large quantity of flammable substances?

In some environments it may be necessary to store large volumes of flammable substances. There are special guidelines for this. Containers must be kept securely, with emergency valves for metal tanks or containers. The volume of substance will dictate the most appropriate type of container.

  • 5 litres – glass
  • 25 litres – plastic or metal

Keep fire extinguishers near stores of flammables

Fire extinguishers should be located nearby places where flammables are stored. These should be visible and within easy reach if needed. As your first line of defence against fire, having extinguishers on hand can prevent a small fire getting out of control.

The type of fire extinguisher you require will depend on the type of fire that is most likely to occur. Generally dry powder extinguishers are good to have around flammables as they can tackle Class A, B and C fires.

Risk assessments

Inevitably when storing flammable substances, particularly large quantities in commercial and public environments, this will need to be identified in your fire risk assessment. You should outline, the steps that you will take to reduce the potential danger around the presence of these materials.

It’s highly recommended to have a full risk assessment carried out on your premises, particularly if you are storing substances that present a fire risk.

Storing flammables on your premises? We can provide advice and full fire risk assessments to protect you against the threat of fire.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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What are Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?

An addressable fire alarm system is made up of a series of fire detectors and devices that are connected back to a central control panel.

With addressable systems, each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area.

Advantages of addressable fire alarms

  • Quickly determine the location of a fire.
  • Specific actions can be programmed by the user.
  • Reduced likelihood and better handling of false alarms.
  • More reliability, less likely to lose connection.
  • Lower overall cost of wiring.
  • Ability to monitor integrity of the system, with detector health checks.

Fire alarm systems that can be programmed

One of the biggest advantages of addressable fire alarm systems is that they can be configured so that a specific action triggers a specific response.

For example, cause and effect programming can be used to say that a particular ‘cause’ such as activation of a fire detector, has the effect of alarms sounding in a specified area and the system being put on alert mode in another. This means that phased evacuation can take place, with priority areas evacuated first. Each area of a building can then be evacuated one at a time, which allows safer fire evacuation procedures in large buildings.

Reduce false fire alarms

False alarms cause disruption and can be costly, so it’s in any business’s interests to minimise their impact and reduce the likeliness of them occurring in the first place.

One of the advantages of addressable fire alarms is that they can allow air to be monitored through the detectors, so if air is contaminated for example with dust (which can activate some fire alarm systems) then a ‘pre-fire’ warning is triggered. This allows investigation to take place, so any issues can be rectified before a full scale false activation of the system takes place.

Addressable fire alarms are more reliable than conventional

Due to the way that addressable alarm systems are connected, any breaks in the circuit caused by damage are less likely to result in devices being disconnected. Unlike conventional systems, all devices are wired up on a loop and are connected to the panel unit at both ends. Therefore if connection breaks at one end, devices will still be connected.

Cost of wiring up alarm system is cheaper

Addressable fire alarms are wired on a loop, which is basically a circuit that connects the system to other devices such as sprinkler systems, call points and detectors. With conventional fire systems each zone and sounder circuit has its own wire, so the cost of wiring can potentially be higher, depending on how many devices need connecting up.

Monitoring and checking all individual fire detectors for faults

Fire alarms are arguably one of the most critical aspects of fire safety on your premises. Another benefit of addressable fire alarm systems is that all devices can be individually monitored and checked for faults, which makes maintenance easier. If an issue is found with a particular detector for example, then a notification will be received by the central control panel.

Having an addressable system therefore means that any problems can be discovered immediately so that they can be rectified, ensuring that everything is in good working order should an incident occur.

Do you need an addressable fire alarm?

This will depend on the requirements of your premises. Usually addressable fire alarms are more suited to larger commercial premises, as they provide accurate and detailed information as to the location of a fire, which isn’t necessary in smaller buildings.

These systems provide sophisticated fire protection, so therefore they do tend to be more expensive than conventional alarms overall. However if having a reliable method of alerting you to danger, that cuts down false alarms and allows for smooth evacuation is critical to your business, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Of course, the type of fire alarm system installed is important to get right and we’d strongly advise talking to a fire protection expert before making a decision.

Further advice and information

For advice on whether addressable fire alarms are the most appropriate choice to protect your business, contact Euro Fire Protection. We supply and install fire alarm systems across the UK.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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What is a Fire Alarm Panel?

Fire alarm panels act as a control unit for fire alarm systems that have multiple linked detectors. They are typically used in larger buildings and commercial properties. Their primary tasks are to monitor fires, alert people to the location of a fire and supply power to fire detectors.

Types of fire alarm panel

Fire alarm panels usually fall into two categories, conventional and addressable; we take a look at their uses, features and which environments they are best suited to.

Conventional fire alarm panels

  • Modern conventional fire alarm systems work by having a series of circuits that link all fire sensors back to the central panel.
  • With conventional fire alarm systems, a building is divided into zones and devices wired up accordingly. Zones will usually represent a floor or general area of a building.
  • If a fire is detected then a signal is sent from the sensor to the panel, this will result in an LED light coming onto to indicate the location of the potential fire. This is often represented with a map/floor plan of a property on the panel. This is used by fire fighters when locating a fire.
  • The cost of installing this type of system is fairly expensive, primarily due to the labour needed to install the cabling required for each zone and sounder circuits. Overall however, this system is a cheaper option that the more advanced, addressable systems.
  • Conventional fire alarm panels are best for managing fire alarms systems in small to medium sized locations e.g. in shops, schools, restaurants and flats.

Addressable fire alarm panels

  • Addressable fire alarm systems are more advanced and need a more sophisticated control unit. Addressable fire panels have more capacity and flexibility, allowing more control over the system. They are therefore best suited to larger offices, commercial buildings, entertainment venues and environments with very specific fire protection/safety requirements.
  • These systems are generally used in situations when it’s critical to know where exactly where a fire is straightaway. With addressable, rather than a building being wired into zones, the entire system is wired in one or more loops, with devices being labelled with an exact location description on the panel, so that a fire can be pinpointed down to the individual detector that was activated.
  • Rather than just locating a fire as ‘first floor’ this type of system will track the fire down to ‘first floor, HR department, smoke detector in interview room 2’ for example.
  • Advanced ‘cause and effect’ programming is allowed by addressable panels to trigger specific responses to certain events. This provides the capability to tailor a system to the exact requirements of an environment.
  • As all devices are wired in loops, more reliability is provided in the system than that of conventional as if damage occurs at some point in the cable signals can still reach the panel.
  • If a key consideration when choosing your alarm system is to limit the occurrence of false alarms, then addressable is the best option. The panel unit can monitor the air flow through smoke detectors to check for dust contamination that could lead to false activation.
  • Wireless fire panels are also available as a subset of addressable alarm panels and are used typically in situations where wiring up a system is not suitable or practical. Devices can be connected remotely back to the central control.

Typical system features on the panel

  • System reset – this allows the system to be manually reset after an alarm. This should stop the alarm from sounding, providing conditions have returned to normal. If there is still smoke etc. present, then detectors will pick up on this and trigger the alarm again.
  • Silencer – stops the alarm from sounding, so that emergency workers can communicate once inside a building after evacuation. Can also be used when testing the system discretely.
  • Drill – special drill feature, so that a fire drill can be carried out without an automatic notification being sent to the fire brigade.
  • Pre-alarm – a stage of alert that suggests there may be a potential fire, before a full scale activation of the system occurs. This reduces false alarms as investigations can be carried out prior to the alarm sounding.
  • Trouble and fault detection – the panel monitors for faults with devices and indicates faults in the system.

Do you need a fire alarm panel?

Whether you need a fire alarm panel or not will depend on the fire alarm system you require. Fire alarm panels are would usually be recommended for medium to large buildings, commercial premises and multiple occupancy residential properties. If you’re not sure which type of alarm you require, it’s best to take advice from fire protection specialists.

For more information

Euro Fire Protection supply, install and maintain fire alarm panels for commercial and residential properties. We can advise on which fire alarm system is best for your premises.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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Top 3 Environments Most at Risk from Fire

When it comes to protecting your home or business from fire, different environments have different fire hazards associated with them, which will present different fire protection challenges.

All businesses should be aware of the level of risk that fire poses to them, so that they can adequately protect themselves against the threat of fire. Risk assessments play a crucial part in determining how at risk a particular environment is from fire.

But what are the environments or places that are most of risk of fire?

According to an IFSEC study, the following environments were found to have the biggest potential risk of a fire breaking out. We take a look at these areas and how to mitigate the fire risk.

Restaurants and Takeaways

Restaurants and takeaways came top on the list, which is not at all surprising when you think about the number of potential fire risks associated with them. Kitchen environments typically have an abundance of ignition materials, combined with naked flames and ovens. The fast paced nature of many restaurant kitchens also makes accidents more likely to occur due to basic human error.

Obviously restaurants in particular need to find ways of reducing the fire threat, as a busy restaurant filled with guests has the potential for a disaster waiting to happen. The fire risk in restaurant kitchens can be reduced by diligently following fire safety procedures and ensuring staff are trained in fire prevention. Basic measures, such as ensuring cooking oil is stored away from sources of heat and ignition also need to be put in place for safety.

If a fire does break out, having the appropriate fire extinguisher on site to put out a Class F fire is vital to tackle the fire early on before it gets out of control. All commercial kitchens should have wet chemical fire extinguishers installed, as these are specially designed to extinguish cooking oil and kitchen related fires.

Houses/Flats with Multiple Occupants and Rental Properties

Houses with multiple occupants such as rental properties, flats and complexes are another environment with a high fire threat. With more people living in a space, the potential fire risk increases. Each person may have their own electrical equipment and shared equipment may be less likely to be checked, as no single occupant is responsible for replacing damaged appliances and faulty wiring etc.

In terms of layout, multiple occupant properties are often more complex, making escape more difficult. For example there may be a single stairwell, which is the main evacuation route for all occupants. In the event of a fire, panic may ensue, so evacuation procedures need to be carefully managed to ensure everyone knows how to get out of the building safely and without worry.

It’s crucial for landlords/owners to provide guidance on fire safety in the property and ensure fire escapes are clearly marked with appropriate signage. Fire alarms should also be installed in each separate dwelling, communal areas and on every level to alert occupants to danger, giving them maximum time possible for escape.

Bars and Nightclubs

Another unsurprising inclusion on the list is bars and nightclubs. These places can often host a large volume of people in a relatively small space, which presents a big danger if a fire were to break out. Bars are particularly at risk from fire because alcohol is a highly flammable substance and having a large quantity of this stored on the premises obviously increases the fire threat.

Smoking is also another common cause of fire and although in the UK it is illegal to smoke inside bars, cigarettes can still potentially start fires if not disposed of properly and if not the no smoking policy is not strictly enforced so people only smoke in designated areas.

Emergency evacuation plans are crucial for bars and nightclubs. Bar staff should be well trained in fire safety procedures and what to do if a fire breaks out. Sadly there have been several high profile cases where fires in bars and nightclubs have resulted in loss of life, such as the 2013 fire in a Brazilian nightclub, in which 240 died as there were insufficient fire safety measures put in the place.

Why fire risk assessments are important

The best way to find out how you can protect your home or business from fire is to seek professional advice. Most fire protection companies will offer to do a risk assessment of your premises to identify fire hazards and recommend measures to reduce the fire threat. Regardless of the fire protection challenges your environment presents, safety must always be your top priority.

More information on reducing fire threat

Get a complete fire risk assessment of your premises today from Euro Fire Protection. We also provide a wide range of fire detection and protection equipment. Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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British Standards: Commercial Fire Detection Systems Recommendations

The British Standards feature a set of recommendations on the fire alarm and detection systems for businesses and other commercial properties.

Here’s a summary of the recommendations specified by the British Standards

British Standards Recommendations for Commercial Fire Alarm Systems

a) The category of fire detection and alarm system required should be stated in recommendations from the relevant enforcing authorities or insurers. This is so that there is no ambiguity over the most appropriate category of fire alarm system for a property.

b) The person responsible for purchasing of an alarm system for a commercial property should inform the system’s designer of the category of detection system required. This should for example be stated in tender specifications.

c) When no category is set in the requirements, it is the responsibility of the system designer to make it clear to the purchaser as to which category of system is proposed.

d) In situations a, b and c – further information as to the location of where fire detectors should be placed in a building should be provided. The only exceptions are for L1 or P1 systems

e) Category L1, L2, L3 and L4 fire detection systems (which are for the protection of life) should also satisfy the recommendations of a Category M system. A Category M system is one that is defined as needing manual operation/human input to activate the alarm.

f) In some cases, Category M manual fire detection systems may be required in conjunction with a Category P1, P2 or L5 system. Under these circumstances these will be named as follows:

- Category P1/M
- Category P2/M
- Category L5/M

g) When more than one category of system is required to satisfy your building’s fire alarm system requirements, this should be referred to in the following way:

- Category L2/P2
- Category L3/P2

h) The system design certificate is a document that should state the category of fire detection and alarm system designed. It should also include details on the areas of a building that are protected by automatic fire detectors. This is excepted in the cases where Category M, L1 or P1 systems are installed.

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British Standards: Categories of Fire Detection Systems

What are the British Standards for?

The British Standards are an essential resource for those who design and install fire detection systems in commercial properties, as well as for local authorities, housing associations and the fire brigade. They outline the types of fire detection and alarm systems that should be installed in commercial buildings to give protection against fire.

These standards act as a guide to ensure fire alarm systems fulfil two key objectives – saving lives and protecting property. Due to the huge variety of applications for fire detection systems, the British Standards divides them into several different categories. Here’s a run through of the categories, the levels of system and what they mean.

Category M Fire Detection Systems

Alarms under this category are manual fire alarm systems where the alarm must be activated, for example by a person using a fire call point. These systems tend to be fairly basic and require a human to discover the fire and take action.

Category L Fire Detection Systems

Category L systems are automatic fire detection and alarm systems with the aim of protecting life. There are 5 levels within this category, each offering a different level of fire protection.

L1 – Earliest possible fire detection

Fire alarms should be installed throughout a building to provide the earliest possible warning. This is critical in commercial premises where there are many people present on site.

L2 – Fire detectors for defined areas

This level of protection requires alarms to be installed in defined parts of a building to give occupants as much time as possible to be evacuated, before escape routes become impassable due to smoke and flames.

L3 – Protecting paths to fire escape

Similarly to level 2, this level involves installing detectors in defined areas, the difference being with level 3 that fire detectors should be placed in rooms that open onto an escape route.

L4 – Protection of fire escape routes

Fire detectors should be placed along escape routes and in other circulation areas, such as corridors and stairways. The objective of this is to protect escape routes so that people can exit a building safely during the event of a fire.

L5 – Localised fire protection

In some buildings fire detection systems may be needed to satisfy a specific fire safety requirement. For example there may be an area where a fire would pose a high risk to the lives of occupants. Under these circumstances, detectors would be required in these locations whether this includes just one room or even entire section of a building.

Level 5 may be needed as an additional requirement to those mentioned under levels 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Category P Fire Detection Systems

Category P systems have the primary aim of protecting property from fire. There are 2 levels, which offer a different level of protection depending on the fire threat.

P1 – Complete fire protection for earliest possible warning

These detection systems offer the earliest possible fire warning. Detectors and alarms should be placed in all areas of a building, so that the moment a fire breaks out the fire brigade can be alerted to stop the spread of the fire and minimize damage to property.

P2 – Fire detectors for defined parts of a building

Where the threat to property and therefore business is high in particular areas of a building, more specific coverage may be needed. Areas with high fire risk, particularly where there are several fire hazards present will require special warning. This could refer to a single room but it can also be extended to cover the entire floor of a building.

Choosing the right fire alarm system to protect your premises

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. In order to find the most appropriate category and type of detection system for your premises – you need to look at your specific fire safety objectives.

Ask yourself; what are your primary fire safety objectives – protection of people or property? This will depend on your business, the people present on site and numerous other factors.

With something as critical as fire safety, it’s important to gain professional advice from a fire alarms specialist. A professional will be able to quickly assess your premises and provide recommendations on the type and level of system that you require. 

If you’re looking for expert advice on fire alarm systems, get in touch with Euro Fire Protection now on: 08000 515 199 

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Latest News – Euro Fire Protection Awarded New Contracts

We’ve been really busy lately with lots of exciting things happening at Euro Fire. Here’s a quick update to tell you about some of our latest news…

Euro Fire awarded Fire Protection and Maintenance Contract for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

We’re pleased to announce that we have recently been awarded a new fire protection and maintenance contract, for large UK based construction firm Miller Asset. As part of this, Euro Fire Protection has secured a deal to provide planned and reactive fire maintenance services for the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL).

This contract will see us providing fire protection services and equipment, including fire detection systems and alarms at the 80 plus (CNWL) estate. We’re looking forward to sharing our expertise and knowledge on preventing and protecting against fires, to assist everyone involved at Miller in the smooth running of this contract.

Providing Fire Equipment Maintenance Services to Whipps Cross Hospital

As well as our work for Miller, we have also recently gained a contract to maintain the dry risers and hydrants for Barts Health Trust at Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

Whipps Cross University Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient and day-case services, with fire prevention being a top safety priority on the hospital’s premises. We look forward to working with the team at Whipps Cross and helping to provide a safer environment.

Delivering Fire Equipment On Site for Bouygues Construction at the University of Hertfordshire

Euro Fire supplying fire point stands on site for BouyguesOur client Bouygues Construction is currently working on the construction of student accommodation at The University of Hertfordshire. This is a massive project, with Bouygues building 2,500 student rooms on the new campus. We recently delivered 110 fire point construction stands on site for the new build, here’s a picture of our busy engineer overseeing the special delivery…

We have been supplying fire safety equipment to Bouygues for a number of years and are pleased to play a part in this latest project.

We are now Construction Line approved

And finally, in other news, Euro Fire Protection is now approved by Construction Line, the UK’s largest register of pre-qualified contractors and consultants. This helps us to make our supply process more efficient, saving both us and our clients time and money.

We’ll be bringing you more news very shortly…

Euro Fire Protection supply, install and maintain fire safety equipment and alarms across the UK. Give us a call now on 08000 515 199 to find out how we can help make your premises a safer place.

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The Fire Classification System in the UK

All fires can be separated into 5 different categories, depending on the type of fuel that is burning.

Categorising fires in this way makes it easier to choose the most appropriate method of fighting the fire, for example some fire extinguishers are more suited for use on certain types of fires than others.

In the UK fires are classed using the European Standard Classification of Fires, which is recognised across the EU.

Class A – Ordinary combustible fires

These are probably the most common type of fire. They occur when materials become heated to their ignition temperature and will continue to burn as long as there is heat, oxygen and fuel to burn. Materials involved in these types of fires include paper, wood, textiles, rubber, some plastics and other organic carbon based compounds.

Class A fires are probably the easiest to extinguish as spraying them with water will cool the fire, removing the heat supply which is essential for the fire to burn. Water based or foam fire extinguishers are most appropriate for putting out ordinary combustible fires.

Class B – Flammable liquids

Flammable liquids are those that have an ignition temperature of less than 100°C. These liquids also have a low flashpoint, which means that they burn easily. The flashpoint is the temperature at which a substance gives off enough vapour to be ignited. These liquids can however burn at any temperature if a source of ignition, such as a spark or naked flame is supplied.

Examples of liquids that are flammable include petrol, kerosene, alcohol, solvents and paints. Fires involving these give off a lot of heat and tend to spread very quickly. They also produce thick, black toxic smoke, which can make these fires difficult to fight.

The best approach for extinguishing a Class B fire is to use a foam fire extinguisher to smother the flames, as using water causes the fuel to scatter therefore spreading out the fire.

Class C – Flammable gases

Flammable gases such as butane, propane and petroleum gases have the potential to create an explosion, if triggered by a single spark. For this reason flammable gases have to be stored securely in sealed containers. The LEL (lower explosive limit) states the lowest concentration of flammable gas that will burn in air. This is usually around 5%, which shows just how big the danger is of potential explosions.

Fires involving flammable gases are one of the most dangerous types of fire to fight. Before attempting to put the fire out, you should make sure that the gas supply is isolated first. Most fire extinguishers are ineffective on Class C fires, the only type being suitable for use being dry power extinguishers.

Class D – Metal fires

Certain metals and powdered metals can burn if ignited, although it requires a lot of heat to ignite most metals, as they are good conductors and transfer heat away quickly to their surroundings. Powdered metals and metal shavings are easier to ignite than solid lumps of metal, so pose a higher fire risk.

Alkali metals such as potassium, magnesium, aluminium and sodium can burn when in contact with air and water. Therefore putting water or foam onto metal fires will increase the intensity of the flames and result in potentially explosive reactions that will send pieces of burning metal in all directions.

In many cases with industrial fires where there are large amounts of burning metal, the safest approach is usually to let the fire burn itself out. As Class D fires tend to produce a lot of ash, this builds up and eventually starves the fire’s Oxygen supply. If a metal fire is spotted early on, specialist type D powder fire extinguishers can be effective, although it should be ensured that they are the specific dry powder type, suitable for use on metal fires.

Electrical Fires

Short circuits, overloaded switchboards, faulty equipment and damaged wiring can all cause electrical fires. Electrical fires are not strictly a fire class of their own, as electricity is a source of ignition as opposed to a fuel. They are still important to mention however as they have their own special fire safety requirements.

Before dealing with an electrical fire, the supply of electricity must be isolated as quickly as possible. As water and foam has the power to conduct electricity, even once the electricity source has been cut off, you should not attempt to put out the fire by putting water on the flames or by using foam and water based extinguishers. Carbon dioxide and dry powder fire extinguishers are the only types of fire extinguishers recommended for safely tackling electrical fires.

Class F – Cooking oil fires

Fires involving cooking oil and fats are common both in homes, businesses and professional kitchens. They pose a very difficult challenge to extinguish, due to the high temperatures involved. Simply trying to cool the fire with water will not work; in fact using water on a burning pan is likely to cause a rapid spreading out of the flames, making the fire worse and potentially injuring anyone in its vicinity.

For this reason special fire extinguishers have been developed to address Class F fires. Wet chemical extinguishers contain a formula which cools the fire and then emulsifies to seal the surface and prevent re-ignition.

If you need advice on which fire extinguishers would be most appropriate for your business premises then get in touch with Euro Fire Protection. Our trained specialists are BAFE approved and can help you ensure your business is best protected against fire.

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Different Types of Fire Extinguisher Explained

Fire extinguishers can be very useful tools for bringing fire under control in its early stages, but it is very important to make sure you use the correct type. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can be very dangerous, resulting in serious injury and risk potentially making the fire worse. Some extinguishers are more suited to some environments than others, it is important to assess which type is the most appropriate for your business. This is best taken care of by professional fire protection specialists, who can survey your premises and provide you with a complete site survey – to ensure you have the most suitable types of fire extinguishers installed.

Five Types of Fire Extinguisher

All fire extinguishers in the UK have clear colour co-ordinated labelling, located towards the top of the extinguisher. To ensure your safety you should familiarise yourself with the five different colour co-ordinated types:

  • Water – Red
  • Powder – Blue
  • Foam – Cream
  • CO2 - Black
  • Wet Chemical – Yellow

Water – Red

Water fire extinguishers are commonplace in offices, shops and warehouses. They are ideal for tackling fires that are burning freely – involving paper, wood, textiles and other solid materials. However under no circumstances should water fire extinguishers be used on fires involving electrical equipment, as water conducts electricity potentially causing the operator an electric shock. These extinguishers are also unsuitable for fires involving flammable liquids, gases and cooking oil fires in the kitchen.

Dry Powder & Dry Special Powder – Blue

Powder fire extinguishers are fairly versatile and suitable for use against a variety of different types of fires. The powder inside the extinguisher prevents the chemical reactions happening that occur inside the fire, to stop it from spreading. When using, it is important to avoid inhaling any of the powder, therefore powder extinguishers are not recommended for use in small spaces such as offices.

These extinguishers can be used on wood, paper, textiles, liquid and electrical fires, so are useful for environments with the risk of several different types of fire, such as those involving chemicals or vehicles. However it’s important to note, powder fire extinguishers should not be used on fires in the kitchen and fires involving flammable metals for example aluminium and magnesium. Some special powder extinguishers are suitable for use on flammable metals, although you should always check the labelling on the extinguisher carefully before use.

Foam – Cream

Foam fire extinguishers are also suitable for different types of fires and are recommended for use particularly in factories, petrol stations and hotels. The foam produced is used to smother the fire and starve it of oxygen, thus extinguishing the flames. These are ideal for use on wood, paper, textiles and liquid fires. Although they are safe to use on electrical equipment it will cause considerable irreversible damage to the appliances. They are also unsuitable for use on flammable gases and cooking fires with oil and grease in the kitchen.

CO2 – Black

Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers are probably the type with the highest risk associated to the operator if used incorrectly, so caution is recommended. Their improper use can result in cold burns, particularly if skin comes into prolonged contact with the horn of the extinguisher, therefore the user should avoid holding the extinguisher by the horn. They also reduce the oxygen supply in the room, which although helps to put out the fire can make it harder to breathe if used in a confined space.

Also as Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, they are also the most environmentally un-friendly fire extinguisher – although much less harmful to the planet than Halon fire extinguishers which were withdrawn from general use in 2000, though they can still be found in some uses such as aviation.

CO2 fire extinguishers are suitable for use on electrical fires and flammable liquids including petrol, although ineffective against fires which involve wood, paper, textiles, flammable gases and cooking fires. They are best recommended for use in offices, shops, schools and other indoor environments, where there is electrical equipment present.

Wet Chemical – Yellow

Wet chemical fire extinguishers are also potentially hazardous to the user, as they can produce toxic fumes which can linger for a while, even after the fire has been put out. So after using indoors, you should open windows and doors if possible to make sure the area is well ventilated.

The chemical spray released by the extinguisher works by starting a chemical reaction that combines the discharge with the cooking fat or oil, to form a cake of soap like emulsion which cools the fire. These extinguishers are probably the type best suited to fires in the kitchen and are essential for restaurants. They are also suitable for fighting fires involving wood, paper and textiles although not suited for use on flammable liquids, gases and metals.

Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

All fire extinguishers should be serviced annually from the date of installation, to ensure they are in good working order, filled up and safe to use. It is extremely important that fire extinguishers are maintained, as they can potentially be dangerous if not looked after properly.

You should make sure that your fire extinguishers are regularly checked by specialists, our fully trained Euro Fire Protection engineers are registered under the BAFE extinguisher technician scheme and offer complete fire extinguisher maintenance, to give you peace of mind that in the event of a fire, your first line of defence is protected.

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