• Mike Lewis

How Many Fire Extinguishers Do You Need?

The presence of a fire extinguisher within a building is a welcome and comforting sight. It helps to know your safety is being taken seriously and that your company is taking a proactive approach to tackle emerging dangers. However, fire extinguisher legislation can feel a little complicated; knowing the correct amount, the right type, and how to work them can heavily impact their effectiveness.


As with all fire safety legislation in England and Wales, UK Fire Extinguisher Regulations are highlighted in ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, also known as the ‘RRO’. These regulations refer to the majority of premises used for non-domestic purposes.


What Is The Legal Number of Extinguishers We Should Have?

UK fire extinguisher standards recommend that you have a minimum of two ‘Class A’ extinguishers on each storey of the building. These are extinguishers capable of putting out ‘carbonaceous’ fires meaning those created by wood or paper.


Class A fire extinguishers are considered to be;

  • 3-litre foam extinguishers

  • 6-litre foam extinguishers

  • 9-litre foam extinguishers


There are some cases where common sense overrules regulations. If your premises are small and two extinguishers would become a hindrance when escaping a fire, one would suffice.


Do I Require Different Types of Extinguishers?

What you use your premises for determines which fire extinguishers would be more effective and suitable. For example, if your premises contain electrical equipment, you would be more suited to using CO2 extinguishers. There are very few occasions where a CO2 extinguisher is not needed, so it’s common to find them in the same proximity as foam or water extinguishers.


UK fire extinguisher regulations specify that all premises with electrical equipment must have at least 2kg CO2 extinguishers. In some cases where the electrical equipment is 415 volt rated, 5KG CO2 extinguishers would be required.


After assessing the premises, if it’s felt that there’s a likelihood of other fires occurring, different types of extinguishers are available.


Dry powder extinguishers can be used to combat gas fires. These are appropriate for boiler rooms, but they’re not recommended for other indoor use due to the complex nature of a gas fire. They cannot be used to compensate for a missing foam or water extinguisher.


Wet chemical extinguishers are appropriate for kitchens with deep-fat fryers. When selecting this type of extinguisher, consideration should be given to the size of your fryer, as this will determine the size of the extinguisher needed.


Where Should Extinguishers Be Located?

The location of each fire extinguisher is determined by premises size and the location of certain safety features. The regulatory ‘standard pairing’ of water-based and CO2 fire extinguishers are usually located by exits and fire alarm calling - points.


There are, however, exceptions to this as no two buildings are the same size. If your location has many exits or alarm points than the number of fire extinguishers needed, refer to the 30-metre rule. The 30-metre rule is taken directly from the current UK British Standards BS5306. This states you should be no more than 30 metres from the suitable extinguisher on any level of your building.


In terms of specialist extinguishers, such as dry powder or wet chemical extinguishers, they should be positioned within easy reach of the hazard without obstructing exits or encouraging dangerous use of the item.


How Should Fire Extinguishers Be Serviced?

Professional fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance is an essential part of any fire protection system. The British Standard for fire extinguishers recommends that every extinguisher receive a basic service annually by a service engineer to ensure that your extinguishers comply with BS5306-3:2009.


Service will include checking the tamper seal is present, providing the gauge is working correctly and that the fire extinguisher is correctly pressurised. The service will also check for any visual signs of damage or corrosion and confirm that the hose remains in good condition.


At London Fire Solutions, we pride ourselves on being a UK market leader in fire protection, providing a ‘one-stop’ service. We offer surveying, manufacturing, installation, certification and maintenance of fire doors, screens, fire alarm systems and other fire protection solutions. Contact our professional team today for more information on fire extinguishers and the correct choices for your business!


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