Fire Extinguisher Refresher

This month we’ve had a few clients asking which fire extinguishers they should be choosing for specific uses on site. Our Safety Consultant, Jon Mattey, summarises for us here…

In an event scenario, we generally only use fire extinguishers to assist egress, not to tackle fires, unless the fire is impeding your route to safety. They should be placed near the exits or along the routes to exits.

Different types of extinguisher are used for different materials. All fire extinguishers in the UK are red, with an identifying coloured band to inform you of the type of extinguisher it is. There should also be signage stating what the extinguisher can be used for. Here’s a quick reference:

TypeColour BandUse
WaterRedHas limited use – Wood, Paper Textiles . Do not use on Flammable liquids, Live electrical equipment
Co2BlackElectrical, flammable liquids, Do not use on Wood, paper textiles
FoamCreamWood, Paper Textiles, Flammable Liquids, Do not use on Live electrical equipment
PowderBlueVery efficient but can make a terrible mess; not used in event scenarios due to the risk of the public potentially setting them off  – Wood, Paper Textiles, Flammable liquids. Do not use on flammable liquids
Wet ChemicalYellowUsed for cooking oil fires (often overlooked by event organisers using caterers)

The ‘go to’ combination for most event sites are to have pairs of Co2 and Foam fire extinguishers dotted around the area, with other types of fire extinguisher used for specific hazards (for example, catering). To work out which extinguisher and how many you require for your event site can be tricky, however the minimum we would suggest is two 13A extinguishers per floor.

The general rule of thumb is that one 13A extinguisher will cover 200m2 of space. This is an absolute minimum requirement, and any calculation should be considered in conjunction with a comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment. Marsden Fire Safety have got a handy calculator on their website here.

Anyone designated as a Fire Marshals on your event site should receive adequate training for each extinguisher and be confident they understand how and when to use them. Training can vary from online to a practical course; we always recommend a practical course where possible.

You might also be interested in reading our post on Electrical Safety here!

Thanks Jon! As ever, do get in touch if Jon, or any of our other Safety Consultants, can help you with your Fire Risk Assessments and safety planning.