Fire extinguisher servicing, done regularly, helps to maintain your life-saving equipment. Surveys by the FIA reveal the vital role fire extinguishers play in fighting fire (one survey cites 88% of fires tackled with portable fire extinguishers are successfully put out).
And so it makes sense to only entrust this job to someone who is properly trained and competent. Imagine what could happen if your fire extinguisher servicing was handled by someone without the relevant training. Should disaster strike, crucial equipment like your fire extinguishers may fail to operate, leaving you vulnerable and exposed.
At the Silver Group, using highly trained technicians to fulfil our fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance contracts is of the highest priority. What’s more, this attention to detail can be seen across our entire portfolio of services. In addition to servicing and maintenance, we also survey, supply, install and commission a wide range of fire extinguishers. We source all equipment from leading manufacturers, building quality into the process from start to finish. And it goes without saying that all our work complies with current British Standards (in this case, specifically BS5306-3:2017 and BS5306-8:2012).
If you choose the Silver Group for your fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance, you’ll enjoy a bespoke service, tailored to your individual business needs. No ‘off the shelf’ packages here!
Understanding current fire extinguisher safety legislation
As the responsible person, you’re in charge of all equipment on the premises. What does this mean in practical terms? Well, you must ensure that the equipment you have on site is fit for purpose, and you must keep all maintenance records up to date, in accordance with fire safety legislation. Choose any fire extinguisher on your premises at random. Can you say with 1oo% certainty that it’s been serviced correctly and within an acceptable time frame?
By law, a ‘competent person’ must conduct maintenance checks (although the term ‘competent’ hasn’t been defined which may seem rather unhelpful). If you don’t have the requisite skills, as the responsible person it’s your duty to find a technician who does and employ them to do this work on your behalf. You, however, are liable for the work they undertake and any mistakes they make. So, it’s extremely important that you are able to verify their competence.
The legislation governing fire extinguisher safety is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. There’s also the British Safety Standard BS5306 to consider as well as a range of third-party accreditation schemes. It’s a lot to take on board.
All our fire extinguisher technicians receive exhaustive training via third-party accredited training courses. These courses are independently run by industry-recognised bodies giving us (and you) full confidence in their quality and the results they produce.
What does a fire extinguisher technician need to know?
Servicing a portable fire extinguisher requires extensive knowledge of not only the workings of the extinguisher itself but also the physics of fire; the causes and the process of combustion through to how different types of fire can be extinguished.
As there are many categories of fire extinguisher, each one suitable for extinguishing different flammable materials, the technician must understand what happens when each and any extinguisher is used to eradicate fire. Could there be an adverse reaction? If so, how is this best mitigated?
All premises must have a valid fire risk assessment. This is an important working document and the fire extinguisher technician must be able to understand it, digest it and analyse it. The information contained in the fire risk assessment helps them to judge if the correct fire extinguisher has been assigned. For example, in a kitchen, is there a fire extinguisher which can deal with oil fires? Is it rated correctly? Can it cope with the size of the appliances in the kitchen? They should also check that fire extinguishers are in the optimum locations and that there is the correct signage in place.
During the service, a technician must have the requisite skills to strip the extinguisher and rebuild it. This guarantees that the extinguisher will not fail when it’s next called upon. Finally, the technician must check that the responsible person, and others (e.g. fire wardens) have undergone their own training so that they know what to do in the event of fire.
The breadth of knowledge that the fire extinguisher technician needs to do their job properly reminds us why good training is essential.
How to be sure your technician is properly trained
How do you check that someone is trained appropriately? As the responsible person, it’s your legal duty to carry out any due diligence necessary. Checking into third-party accreditation is always a good place to start as it’s a speedy way of assessing that an individual’s expertise meets a certain standard. Across the fire safety industry, third-party accreditations are generally accepted as proof of a set of skills and competency. It’s not possible to be awarded accreditation without the expertise required to safely service a fire extinguisher.
BS5306 also provides supporting information on recognized exam providers (training providers should include final exams as part of the course).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the FIA is a good place to start (we’re members). They’re the UK’s largest fire protection association and they offer comprehensive training courses in all areas of fire safety.
Once trained, BS5306 recommends periods of refresher training, at least once every three years.
What about training for staff operating fire extinguishers?
It goes without saying that anyone on your premises who might need to operate a fire extinguisher must receive training. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, this is one of your duties.
The size of your organization and the complexity of your premises will dictate which and how many employees require training. You may need designated fire wardens who will require specialist training as they have a higher level of responsibility if and when a fire alarm is sounded.
If you’re unsure about any aspect of fire training, we can advise you. And don’t forget, we can help you with all aspects of extinguisher fire safety. From survey, supply, commission, installation and maintenance we are here to make your fire safety responsibilities and compliance as easy as possible. The best place to start is with a visit from one of our fire safety advisors who can assess your fire safety requirements. They’ll ensure that you know what to do next and what training may be required.
If you have any questions or would like to get quality fire safety advice, please contact us. We’re always happy to help!