Everything you need to know about fire extinguishers for warehouses
If your business premises in Northamptonshire is conducted from a warehouse, it's likely you have large amounts of packaging lying around, and potentially some electrical equipment.
To protect your valuable business from fire, it's essential you've got the right safety measures in place. As warehouses are usually larger areas than most rooms, it is usually recommended to install larger extinguishers to cover more space.
The materials stored in warehouses and factories range from small electronic items to books, CDs and engineering products. The number and wide variety of items of stock, activities which may be undertaken (for example charging of electric vehicles) and the associated numbers of vehicle movements present multiple opportunities for incidents to occur in the absence of a rigorous fire safety management regime.
Whilst the incidence of fires in warehouses is generally low, the size of the buildings and the volumes of combustible material stored results in many of the fires becoming major. Posing challenges for fire and rescue services, and resulting in significant property losses and disruption to business continuity.
This article is for you if you're unsure how many fire extinguishers your factory needs, or where they should be placed.
Foam and CO2 fire extinguisher combination
General and electrical fire risks
As the contents of warehouses is often varied, extinguishers to cover multiple fire risks is crucial. Warehouses have the potential of larger fires and possible larger volumes of flammable materials. A foam extinguisher combined with a CO2 extinguisher is an effective fire fighting combination in most warehouse environments.
CO2 is effective at tackling electrical fires, whilst foam provides general coverage for class A (e.g. wood, paper) and class B (flammable liquids) fires. It is not however advisable to use a CO2 fire extinguisher in confined spaces with limited air flow.
How many fire extinguishers are required per square foot in a warehouse?
Unfortunately, a simple answer to this question doesn't exist. In order to ensure complete fire safety compliance, the first step would be to get a risk assessment. This will determine which fire-fighting control measures your business requires. All workplaces should have water based extinguishers for Class A provision.
How often should fire extinguishers be serviced?
Fire extinguisher British Standards state that fire extinguishers must be serviced once a year, and this service must be undertaken by a competent and trained person.
This typically means someone with the relevant BAFE qualifications, or the equivalent.
How many fire extinguishers are required in a factory?
UK fire extinguisher standards recommend that you should have a minimum of two ‘Class A’ extinguishers on every storey of the building.
Class A fire extinguishers are those which put out wood or paper fires, also known as ‘carbinaceous’ fires.
General and vehicle fire risks
If the warehouse has an external loading bay where vehicles would stop, a powder extinguisher could be used to cover potential vehicle related fires.
Generally, powder extinguishers are safe for use on gaseous fires, as well as wood, paper, fabric, and flammable liquids.
Tips for warehouse fire safety
- Have an updated list of all fire hazards and locations
- Check your fire extinguishers regularly
- Service your fire extinguishers at least annually
- Train staff members in fire safety practices
- Keep your warehouse tidy and fire exits clear
Where fire doors are installed for the protection of openings in compartment walls, a clear radius on each side of the opening should be created in which no combustible goods are placed, to prevent the spread of fire by radiated heat when the doors are opened.
The safe distances involved should be determined by your business risk assessment and will vary considerably, depending on the size and type of door or shutter. Goods must not obstruct the free movement of fire doors.
Where should fire extinguishers be placed in a warehouse?
One of the most important aspects of positioning fire extinguishers is making sure they are accessible and clearly visible. Make sure all of your employees know where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
Fire extinguishers should be positioned at prominent fire points, usually sited on an exit route. Extinguishers should be clearly signed; in a warehouse high level signs may also be needed to indicate their location to staff. A weekly inspection of all fire points should be carried out to ensure that all extinguishers are in place, undamaged and readily accessible.
Further resources about workplace fire safety, including how best you can protect your Northamptonshire business can be found here:
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We are always happy to provide a free business survey of your warehouse premises to determine your fire extinguisher requirements.
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