Fire Extinguishing Appliances
The most common fire extinguishing appliances in workplaces are:
- portable fire extinguishers;
- trolley-mounted fire extinguishers;
- fire blankets;
- hydraulic hose reels.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers contain any one of five extinguishing agents: water, foam, powder, halon or carbon dioxide. The selection and siting of the correct types for different classes of fire is essential as is the training of staff nominated to use the equipment. Labelling and colour coding of the extinguisher's casing by suppliers is generally sufficiently consistent to aid training of staff in use of the equipment.
Water Extinguishers (Red)
Water is suitable for fires involving wood, paper or textiles (Class A fires). It must be avoided if the fire also involves flammable liquids or if the extinguisher might discharge onto live electrical equipment.
Foam Extinguishers (Cream)
Foam comes in two types. Flouroprotein foam which is intended for fires involving flammable liquids (Class B fires) and aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) which is suitable for use on both Class A or Class B fires.
Powder Extinguishers (Blue)
Dry powder can be used on live electrical equipment (low voltages up to 1,000 volts) to extinguish fires, but is liable to damage the equipment. Special care is needed due to the danger of re-ignition or flash-back. According to the type of powder used, these extinguishers are also marked as suitable either for both Class A and Class B fires, or only for Class B fires.
Halon Extinguishers (Green)
Halon can be used on live electrical equipment (even high voltages over 1,000 volts) and is also suitable for Class B and small Class A fires. Because of its risk to the ozone layer, the halon agent, BCF, is no longer produced in high volume and many employers use these extinguishers only when there is no suitable alternative.
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers (Black or Grey)
Carbon dioxide is suitable on live electrical equipment (even high voltages over 1,000 volts). It can also be used on small fires involving flammable liquids. Special care is needed due to its heavy weight, the risk of mild frostbite if handled incorrectly and the danger of re-ignition or flash-back.