Who is Responsible for Using a Fire Extinguisher?

Every employer, owner or occupier of a business premises is accountable for fire safety and fire protection. To comply with fire safety legislation, it is a legal requirement to have an ‘appropriate person’ who is trained to carry out fire safety measures. This must be implemented under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, to minimise the risk to life from fire.

The ‘appropriate person’ must have adequate training and experience in the principles of fire safety. This includes understanding relevant fire safety procedures and precautions. An essential part of their role involves the use of fire extinguishing equipment in the event of a fire. fire extinguishers should never be used by someone with no training.

A person must be properly trained to use firefighting equipment. The reason for this is because it is important to know which type to use for the fire. If the wrong type of extinguisher is used, this could lead to life-threatening consequences. For example, using a water extinguisher where electricity located could trigger electrocution. So, it is essential that the person knows where each fire extinguisher can be applied.

The Importance of fire safety training

The ‘appropriate’ person must be given effective training to perform fire safety measures accordingly. Under the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005,  the company or organisation are responsible for ensuring that their employees receive adequate training and development.

An important area of the training involves educating about fire hazards, fire risks and how to carry out fire risk assessments. Appropriate person training is delivered in order to enhance their capability with fire prevention, fire detection and effective use of fire safety equipment.

When would you use a fire extinguisher?

In the event of a fire, there are a number of precautions to consider before you put a fire extinguisher to use. These involve making sure the room has not filled with smoke, making sure the fire is contained and finally ensuring everyone has been evacuated from the building.

For example, if the fire is contained in a rubbish bin, it would be safe to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Before you operate a fire extinguisher, you need to make sure it is the suitable type for the fire you are dealing with. A fire extinguisher is only designed to handle smaller fires in the workplace or to protect evacuation routes in the event of a bigger one.

When should you not use a fire extinguisher?

  • The fire is too large
  • High levels of smoke in the air
  • The environment is too hot or smoky
  • Evacuation paths are impaired

Who can inspect a fire extinguisher?

Any fire extinguisher required for a business premise must be serviced once a year. In addition, fire extinguishers must have regular monthly checks recorded. As part of the annual service, it must be inspected and certified by a fire protection equipment professional.

A ‘responsible person’ such as an owner or landlord are expected to carry out the visual inspections of fire extinguishers to comply with legislation. This person is someone who is qualified by training and experience to conduct service and maintenance of fire extinguishing equipment.

Are fire extinguishers a legal requirement?

To comply with UK legislation, it is a legal requirement for all workplaces to have fire extinguishers. UK fire extinguisher regulations state that all business environments are required to have a minimum of two ‘Class A’ extinguishers on every storey of the building.

Typically, they are located near exits and fire alarm call-points. They should be fixed to the wall, or attached to a stand. If your business premise is quite small, then you may only need one fire extinguisher so that it prevents hindering escape routes.