21 Aug Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers
Should we still be using dry powder fire extinguishers?
In recent years we have seen dry powder fire extinguishers start to disappear from premises after the amendment was made to BS5306-8 in 2012. The amendment deals with the selection and placement of fire extinguishers. After this amendment, it came on to the radar of Health and Safety professionals, since then we have started to see fewer of these.
If you are asking, should I still have dry powder fire extinguishers in my business premises? Here are a few facts to help you understand the situation more.
Clause 4.2 of BS 5306-8 states. “The impact of the discharge of the extinguishing medium on the environment should be taken into account. Extinguishing medium can cause collateral damage to many things such as, but not restricted to;
- Building fabric
- Artefacts and sensitive equipment
Firstly, this paragraph is mainly relating to ‘powder” as the fine particles spread and will corrode metal and damage. Items such as IT equipment, food, machinery and much more. Failing to put out the fire, however, would cause even more damage. What it is really saying is if you can use a product which will cause less damage than powder then you should.
The second part references the possible harm to people, caused by using powder extinguishers clause 5.4.3: The discharge of a dry powder fire extinguisher within buildings can cause a sudden reduction of visibility and impair breathing which could temporarily affect escape, rescue etc. For this reason, powder extinguishers should not be specified or indoor use, unless they are mitigated by an actual health and safety risk assessment.
Where should powder extinguishers be used?
There are a couple of specific risks currently where the only option is a powder extinguisher.
- Fuel Fires – flammable liquids have a greater possibility of spillage.
- Gas risks – using flammable gases, for example, LPG you have no choice but to keep powder extinguishers.
In all cases, training will be required to ensure that staff are aware of how to use the dry powder fire extinguishers both safely and effectively.
Finally, if you have any further concerns or want a risk assessment carried out for your fire safety equipment please get in touch.