The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 – Do You Know Your Responsibilities?

Open book

We all know the dangers of fire and the terrible devastation it can cause and as a business owner you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the chances of it happening on your premises are as limited as is reasonably possible.  That’s a big responsibility but it’s reassuring to know that the majority of fires are preventable if the right behaviours and procedures are adopted in relation to fire safety management.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was put in place by The Government to provide small and medium-sized businesses in England and Wales with a framework from which to work. If you are new to fire safety, it being a new responsibility to yourself, or if you’re setting up a new business, then it’s important you make yourself familiar with what your responsibilities are.

Who is responsible for fire safety will depend upon the individual circumstances of your business.  It’s officially defined as ‘the responsible person’, which for you could mean the employer, the managing agent or owner of the premises or the occupier, or even a mix of all of those.

If you don’t know where to start the good news is there are several sources where you can find detailed information, which I’ve listed for you at the bottom of the page.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and please bear in mind information has a tendency to change as new and amended guidance is introduced.

Here’s a quick overview for you of what your business is responsible for:

  1. Fire Safety Risk Assessments – the aim of this exercise is to identify any potential fire hazards and also the people within your premises who may be at risk, especially those who may be at greater risk either because of the location of their work or because they have special needs. This must be done regularly and thoroughly with findings noted as well as any actions carried out as a result.  You may wish to do this at the same time as your other risk assessments. You can find guidance on what your fire safety risk assessment should include here.
  2. Risk reduction – you must take action against any hazards identified in your fire risk assessment and either eliminate or minimise the risk as much as is reasonably possible.  This will include things such as ensuring any flammable substances on the premises are kept well away from sources of ignition, securing heaters so they cannot be knocked over, keeping on top of clearing rubbish, such as old cardboard boxes which could easily ignite. Risk reduction measures also include the presence of the correct type of fire fighting equipment and ensuring its upkeep with routine maintenance and regular testing of the apparatus. There should be adequate early detection and warning systems.  Again, every risk reduction measure implemented should be recorded.
  3. Planning – map out a fire safety and evacuation plan detailing what needs to happen in the event of a fire and what plans are in place to ensure people are able to evacuate as quickly as possible.  This includes keeping exit routes clear and clearly signed, installation and maintenance of easy to use emergency doors and allocating a safe meeting point.
  4. Training – ensure all employees are trained on what to do in the event of a fire as well as advising them of any new fire risks as and when they occur.  Also make them aware of who they need to advise of any fire hazards they encounter. It is your responsibility to carry out a minimum of one fire drill each year, the results of which must be recorded.
  5. Consideration – you must take into consideration all potential users of your property, not just employees.  This change was introduced to the 2005 update and ensures that risks are minimised not just for employees but for anyone else who may be on the premises such as visitors or members of the public.

Further Information:

How Safe Are Your Fire Doors?

Fire Door

Although many may not notice them, fire doors are a fixture of day to day life. Whether in the workplace, educational buildings or even communal areas within residential buildings, fire doors are everywhere. The reason behind this is simple, they save lives. They help to contain fires within compartments and in doing so allow escape via unaffected areas. With such an important function, it is imperative that fire doors are installed correctly and regularly checked for faults. Here are just some of the ways in which you can ensure that your fire doors are fully functional and safe.

Who is responsible?

When it comes to fire protection, the ‘responsible person’ is usually the landlord, building owner or company manger. This person is responsible for ensuring that fire doors are installed and routinely checked.

Installation

Choosing a reputable company to install your fire doors is an important step. You should discuss your options with them prior to installation as there are different types of door to choose from. Customers can choose from FDKS and FDKL options which include doors which are designed to remain shut and those that are required to be locked at all times. Also, different doors provide fire protection for different durations of time. Commonly, this includes anywhere from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes.

The type of seals which are installed can also be different. Fire doors can contain fire protection seals, smoke protection seals or both.

Fire doors should be certified by the manufacturer. This is basically a promise from the manufacturer that the door has been made and installed to the specific standards laid out by the customer. Certification should be visible with a label on the door, explaining the protection level and overall fire performance.

Maintenance

Fire doors are only effective if they are functioning correctly and therefore should be inspected regularly. The responsible person can check their own fire doors for obvious faults but a complete inspection should be carried out by a certified fire door inspector. When looking for an inspector, make sure they hold a CertFDI qualification. As well as completing a full check of all of your fire doors, the inspector should provide you with a report of their findings.

It is recommended that fire doors are inspected every 6 months but this is dependent on the building in question. Some buildings such as workplaces and schools will require more frequent inspections due to the greater degree of traffic within these areas.

Glass

It may be necessary to install fire doors with glass panels, in order to combat lighting or visibility issues. If this is the case, a specialised fire-proof glass should be used in order to protect the integrity of the door. This type of glass can withstand fire up to 30 minutes thanks to a unique design which radiates a large proportion of the heat. It is possible to install glass panels which can withstand fire for longer but this can only work with smaller windows.

Upgrading

Upgrading standard doors into fire doors is not as popular as it once was but can be the only option in certain situations. If this is the case, only some types of doors are eligible and this should be kept in mind. For example, suitable doors need to be framed and contain a solid core and panels. The thickness of the door is also important, as well as the joints and fixings.

If you have any questions or worries about installing or maintaining a fire door, then please ask.

Your Responsibilities for the Provision of Evacuation Devices

Fire exit door

The safety and well-being of employees or visitors within an establishment is paramount. It is for this reason that there is a wealth of government legislation outlining the responsibilities which fall on the employer, service provider or building owner when it comes to this issue. These include all aspects of health and safety, from environmental conditions to emergency procedures. One aspect of the legislation which can sometimes be confusing concerns the evacuation of individuals with specialist needs.

The installation of evacuation devices cannot be enforced by any particular regulation but it can be necessary to the safeguarding of employees or service users. Paraphrasing the fire safety order of 2005, it says that if an employer does not make every effort to protect their disabled employees or service users, this could be seen as discrimination. Therefore, as evacuation devices are included in safeguarding of disabled employees, they are required in order to avoid a potentially discriminatory situation. Furthermore, the same order dictates that the ‘responsible person’ is required to offer a means of evacuation for individuals who have mobility issues or sensory impairments.

Evacuation devices describe any device which facilitates the movement of an individual from inside to outside of the building. Stairs can often pose a difficulty for those with mobility issues and therefore devices such as evacuation chairs or sledges can prove vital in exiting the building. Other products should also be considered, including evacuation straps, boards, stretchers and blankets. It is also important to note that some buildings will be below ground and individuals will need to climb stairs in order to escape. With this in mind, there are evacuation chairs available which can facilitate this.

PEEP

Another responsibility of the employer/owner is to devise a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan or PEEP. This should be created for every person who may need assistance when evacuating the building. The plan should include information on meeting points, equipment and the overall evacuating process. Depending on the specific circumstances, research may have to be carried out prior to creating the PEEP and if necessary, staff may have to be trained in proper protocol. For example, staff should be taught the correct way to use an evacuation chair.

Refuge Areas

Refuge areas are selected areas within the building in which disabled individuals can wait for evacuation. The responsible person should ensure that refuge areas meet a range of specific requirements. They have to be an enclosed area which can withstand fire for up to 30 minutes. Refuge areas also have to be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and close to a fire exit. This may also be the best place to store any evacuation equipment in order to speed up the overall process.

Other Considerations

Up to now we have only discussed the evacuation of disabled individuals but other people should also be considered. The Fire Safety Order (2005) talks about providing adequate evacuation for people with mobility problems and this can include a variety of different types of individual. Other than disabled people, mobility problems can be caused by temporary conditions such as broken limbs. Factors such as pregnancy, heart and brain disorders can also effect movement and all of these should take into consideration.

If you have any questions or worries about your responsibilities in accordance with the Fire Safety Act of 2005, there are many resources out there that can help. There are also a wide range of specialist organisations who can provide information on those with specialist needs and their specific requirements.

Fire Protection for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

SOS

Since their introduction, fire alarms have saved countless lives and remain a necessity in every household and workplace. This is perfectly fine for the majority of users but sound based alert systems don’t work for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is for this reason that many organisations are trying to create awareness for this issue and educate people on fire alarm systems which have been specifically designed for those who are hearing impaired.

The way in which designers have approached the production of fire alarm systems for deaf individuals is to create devices which work with other senses.

Visual

Many fire alarm systems utilise a mixture of the auditory alarm along with strobing lights for those with hearing problems. This approach can be incredibly successful in a variety of situations but becomes problematic when individuals are sleeping. This is because flashing lights are unlikely to wake a person and therefore alert them to the emergency. With this in mind, these types of alarms can face problems within the home as well as in establishments such as hotels.

This limitation has inspired companies to create a system which works around this issue.

Haptic

Companies such as Fireco and Ei Electronics have created pads which vibrate when a fire alarm goes off. These pads are placed under the person’s pillow and wakes them in the event of an alarm. Both companies take different approaches to this device. The Ei175 from Ei Electronics is connected with the fire alarm and can be linked up with strobe lights for a multi-functional approach. Fireco’s Deafgard is different in that it is completely portable and is activated when it ‘hears’ the alarm and this triggers the vibration. Both devices have their corresponding strengths, allowing customers to choose the right one for them.

Auditory

Individuals who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss can still benefit from auditory alarms but specific considerations should be made. Such individuals may not be awoken by standard alarms but some companies have worked around this by designing detectors which emit a loud, low-frequency sound. Research has found that lower frequency alarms are much more likely to wake a person with moderate hearing impairment.

Emergency Services

Another issue which affects many deaf people is how to contact the emergency services in the event of a fire. Fortunately, a system has been put in place for this very scenario. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can register their phones with the emergency services and this allows them to text for assistance. Registration is quick and easy:

  1. Send a text with the word Register to 999.
  2. You will receive a text message with more information on the service.
  3. Read the message and reply with Yes.
  4. They will send another message which confirms that you have been successfully registered to the system.

The outbreak of fire can be terrifying, even more so for those who have lost their sense of hearing but there is help out there.

New Businesses Health and Safety in Check

First aid kit on laptop keyboard

If you’re setting up a new business, or have recently already done so, then health and safety may be the last thing on your mind.  Lets face it, there are plenty of more interesting things to think about like branding, promotions and kitting out your premises.  But, by not giving it the priority it needs your venture could be over before it’s even had a chance.  Unfortunately for small businesses, which are in a particularly precarious position, personal injury claims can not only be financially crippling, but also have the potential to destroy you and your business’ reputation.

Every business, no matter how small, has a legal responsibility for keeping a safe working environment for its employees and also for the safety of any member of the general public who may be visiting the premises.  That means anyone who sustains an injury can press charges if your business is found to be at fault and has neglected its health and safety responsibilities.

As you can see keeping abreast of health and safety regulations and maintaining a robust and easy to manage Health & Safety system is essential and should be the foundations of everything you do.  When approached in the right way and actioned regularly it isn’t as daunting as it first seems.

The routine execution of risk assessments is one of the most important things you should do from day one.  This involves inspecting your premises to identify any potential hazards.  It may be the most time consuming activity as you need to consider everything and anything that poses a threat of injury, but once a detailed list has been made you then have a good framework to work from.  Once you have complete your first risk assessment you will then need to implement measures to control the identified risks.

There are some great case studies on the Health & Safety Executive website where you can see sample risk assessments from a variety of different small and medium sized businesses.  Risk assessments then needs to be executed regularly and it is important to document your findings as well as any actions taken as a result.

Aside from risk assessments there are also other legal responsibilities you have:

  • To display the current Health & Safety Law Poster which can be obtained from the HSE
  • For businesses of more than five employees you must write a Health & Safety Policy, templates of which can be found on the HSE website here
  • To ensure your employees are in receipt of health & safety training and documentation educating them on your Health & Safety Policy and how to carry out their jobs safely.  You must also update them should any changes occur
  • To keep an accident book and ensure all accidents are reported.  It is also your responsibility to provide immediate medical attention for any illness or injury that occurs at work.  You will need a well-stocked first aid box and ideally an appointed first aider who has received first-aid training from an approved organisation
  • To provide workplace facilities for your employees.  A full list of these can be found here on the HSE website but includes Welfare Facilities – such as toilets, basins and soap, Health Issues – such as maintaining a reasonable working temperature, waste receptacles, adequate lighting and good ventilation, and Safety – which includes maintained premises and equipment, windows that open and the use of safety or toughened glass in windows and doors
  • Finally, make sure your business is covered by liability insurance from an FCA authorised insurer.  This insurance will help you to cover compensation costs should a court find you liable for an injury at work.

You can make the load slightly lighter on yourself by supporting a two-way flow of health and safety information in your organisation which can be achieved by encouraging your employees to identify and report any concerns they have as well as to put forward their suggestions of where improvements could be made. This could be via surveys or face-to-face discussions, whichever way works best for your set up.

So move Health & Safety up your list of things to do and please don’t bury your head in the sand as it may come back to bite you.

Fire & Safety for Children

Boy playing with fire

Children have an innate urge to explore their environment, to test their limits and to imitate others. It’s how they learn, but it can also get them into some tricky situations. I’ve had a few hair-raising experiences with my son who likes to test his physical limits; ‘can my head fit through these bars?’ Yes it can, but it can’t get back out again quite so easily. ‘Can I fit in this tree trunk?’ again, yes you can but it’s going to take 10 minutes and lots of screaming to pull you out.

Luckily for me, we haven’t had any fire-related near misses yet and I must admit I don’t think I’d be overly prepared if we did. I’m hoping that by taking a preventative approach and minimising the risk of fire in our household will be enough. I need to educate myself for the safety of my children and, let’s be honest, I’m not alone!

According to the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) domestic fires pose one of the greatest risks to children and according to the Department for Communities and Local Government 6,000 fires are started each year by children under the age of 10. That to me is a shocking statistic and even more shocking is that fire is the cause of nearly half of all accidental deaths in children.

There’s plenty of advice available to parents and carers on how to minimise the risk of fires at home and here are the most important tips to prevent fires at home:

  1. Keep lighters and matches out of reach and out of sight
  2. If you are a smoker then make sure that you extinguish and dispose of your cigarettes properly
  3. When cooking try to use the back burners and ensure saucepan handles are out of reach
  4. Never leave chip pans unattended.  According to RoSPA approximately 16,000 domestic fires are started each year from deep frying food.
  5. Place fire guards on any open, gas or electric fires and ensure they are securely attached to the wall
  6. Straighteners and curling irons should be kept out of reach and turned off after use
  7. Never leave burning candles unattended and keep them out of reach of children at all times
  8. With the summer now upon us be extra vigilant with BBQs, firepits and fire torches. Don’t leave children unattended in the garden when they are lit

If the worst should happen and a fire does ignite you can give your family the best possible chance to escape if you have installed an adequate amount of smoke detectors for the size and layout of your property.  Only purchase alarms that comply to BS EN 14604 2005 and ensure they are in working order by regularly checking them.  Fire and smoke detectors can give you the extra minutes needed to evacuate safely.

You certainly don’t want to frighten your children but you should educate them on what to do if they hear the alarms and make a fun game out of evacuating the property.  Make sure they know not to stop to collect anything and to keep low.  Try and talk through the different evacuation routes in the house so they know what to do if one is blocked.

Finally, a simple saying to remember: Get out, Stay out, call 999!

Further Reading

How Safe Is Your Reputation

We live in an age where consumers have more choice than ever before and therefore it can be difficult for companies to stand out. It is for this reason that reputation is as important now as it ever has been. A good reputation can allow businesses to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers. However, should a company’s reputation become damaged this can prove catastrophic.

With social media so prevalent, it has never been easier to learn about news, as and when it happens. There have been many corporate scandals in recent memory, all of which do irreparable damage to the company in question. In 2014, car manufacture General Motors were forced to do a massive recall of 800,000 of its cars due to faulty ignition switches. Prior to the recall, the fault is estimated to have caused 13 deaths and 31 crashes. As well as costing the company a huge amount of money, the recall has damaged GM’s reputation with many previous and potential customers. A similar situation is happening with the holiday company, Thomas Cook. An inquest has been held recently, into the deaths of two children who died on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006. Many consumers are unhappy with the way the company handled the situation and have pledged to boycott the firm in the future. Finally, we can’t discuss damaged reputations without mentioning the banking crisis of 2008 which is still having dramatic ramifications on consumers and their relationship with the finance sector.

These events are just the tip of the iceberg but they illustrate that no company or corporate infrastructure is safe from damage to their reputation. Fortunately, there are ways for businesses to safeguard themselves and therefore their overall standing with the public.

Health and Safety

Health a safety is an integral factor across the entire business world and it tends to be an issue which often informs reputation. If an accident happens, it shouldn’t be something that could have been avoided with better practices in place. With this in mind, companies should implement a comprehensive health and safety infrastructure and reassess these measures at regular intervals. If you are unfamiliar with current regulations or you would like more help, consider working with external organisations who are trained within this area.

Customer Service

Reputation is all about the relationship between a company and its current customers or potential consumers. Customer service is therefore key when attempting to build these relationships. Provide customers with different ways of contacting you, these can include phone, email, social media and instant chat. Also, if a customer has a complaint try to remain polite and helpful at all times and do your best to resolve the issue. Gestures such as these help to forge a good reputation and protect your company against any negative feedback.

Security

In recent years, many organisations have fallen victim to hacking and in some cases it’s due to inadequate security. This can be particularly worrying for customers who share sensitive information with companies. Make sure you are utilising a reputable firewall which includes antivirus and antimalware capabilities. Also, security software should be updated regularly in order to safeguard against current and future threats.

PR

A bad situation can be made infinitely worse with an ill thought out tweet or misinformed press release. Any mistake which is made by a corporation, however small can be magnified and displayed to the entire online world. It is therefore a good idea to guarantee that your PR infrastructure is just a developed as any other aspect of your company.

Why Health and Safety Makes Good Business Sense

Health and safety issues permeate every work based setting. Business owners are required to provide a working environment which is safe for both employees and customers. This can often include the creation of risk assessments, implementation of practices and the modification of the physical workspace. Whilst some may find the overall process to be time consuming and in some cases unnecessary, good health and safety practices can actually boost overall productivity. Here are just some of the ways in which this can happen.

Accidents

According to government statistics, during 2013/2014 as many as 629,000 employees had an accident at work. 148,000 of these people were absent from their workplace for at least 7 days as a consequence of their injury. These statistics show the direct relationship between safety in the workplace and productivity. Every time an employee is absent it costs an employer money and manpower but if just some of these absences can be avoided, every effort should be made to do so.

It should be noted that not all of the accidents within these statistics will be due to poor health and safety practices but it’s likely to be the case in a large proportion.

Stress

Countless pieces of research have found a link between stress and poor health, especially the low level, chronic stresses often found within the workplace. As well as potentially leading to sickness and absence, stress can also be demotivating which can lead to employees becoming less productive. Psychologists have pin pointed some of the main perpetrators of stress within the workplace. These include powerlessness (no control over your current situation), feeling as if you are wrong for your job, witnessing traumatic events within the workplace, no job description and a poor working environment. Obviously health and safety practices don’t cover all of these issue but any way in which you can alleviate stress for your workers will not only benefit them but the company as a whole.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions can affect productivity in a variety of different ways. For example, employees within an uncomfortable environmental are not going to work to the best of their ability. Furthermore, certain conditions can even affect health and safety and therefore lead to absence. Factors which come under the umbrella of environment conditions include, temperature, humidity, lighting, air quality, bathroom facilities and the presence of dangerous particles such as asbestos or moulds.

All of these can be factored into a company’s health and safety infrastructure, with measures to protect employees.

Reputation

Health and safety is an aspect of business which can have repercussions on reputation. Companies that are recognised as enforcers of good practices are more likely to be respected and therefore favoured by potential employees. The same is true of the opposite, a business with a poor reputation for health and safety is less likely to attract workers.

Health and safety reputation is also going to affect the way consumers think about companies. This is especially true when it comes to food outlets or any companies which offer consumables. Obviously, anything which deters customers from buying is never good for a business and will lead to a loss in profits.

Health and safety is often a complex issue which requires a lot of time, effort and commitment. This being said, good practices will not only safeguard you, your employees and your customers but will also protect your organisation from lapses in morale and productivity.

Top Tips for Writing Effective Health & Safety Procedures

Health and safety, let’s face it, isn’t the most glamorous subject. It’s not something the majority of the population would get excited about; nevertheless it is a necessity. Everyone with your organisation, no matter how big or small it is, has a duty to comply with the framework set out by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, therefore it’s important that the procedures you use internally are easily accessible and digestible by all.  All too often epic documents are produced that do indeed set out compliance information but are in no way user friendly or reflective of the fact that most employees don’t have hours available to trawl through the information.  You don’t need to be the greatest wordsmith to get it right and here are a few pointers to help you produce a document that gets the balance on an even keel.

Writing & Formulating

When compiling your document keep the following four C’s front of mind:

Comprehensive – It’s essential your procedures are thorough and set out all the steps required in order to show due diligence.  Omitting crucial information may leave you in breach of the law.  Also, consider highlighting the reason behind the procedures’ existence.  If they understand why it’s there in the first place they be more likely to comply and will be better equipped to make decisions should an instance arise whereby they cannot follow the procedure exactly.

Concise – This seems a bit at odds with ‘comprehensive’ but you can have a combination of the two.  It is absolutely imperative that the document is as concise as possible.  Many organisations cram as much information in as they can to ensure they fully comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act.  But too much information leaves you at risk of losing the reader and jeopardises the success and purpose of the document.

Clear – Use visual aids wherever appropriate to make it easier for information to be seen and processed.  Think flow charts, diagrams and symbols.  Symbols are particularly useful at highlighting areas that are highly important or where decision making is necessary.  Make sure symbols are easily recognisable and are used in a consistent manner throughout all your procedures.  Include a table of contents to enhance usability and include checklists as a way to create a clear path for the reader, allowing them check they have met each step in the procedure.

 

Comprehensible – When writing any important document, but in particular those relating to health and safety practices, it is essential they can be understood by everyone with the organisation.  Avoid the use of jargon, or if this is unavoidable ensure clear definitions are provided.  It’s all too easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with health and safety terminology or business vocabulary.

Testing & Checking

The best way to check that your document is comprehensive, concise, clear and comprehensible is to get it tested by several people who will be using it in the future.  Outline to them its purpose and explain what you are trying to achieve from the testing process. Consider providing them with some prompts at the beginning or end of the document to help them with their feedback, for example: ‘how long did it take you to read this?’, ‘were there any areas that you found difficult to understand?’.  This way you are more likely to receive constructive comments.  Two rounds of testing are preferable to make certain your document is as effective as possible.

Accessibility

Your procedures then need to be clearly communicated to all staff to whom they are relevant.  If the procedures are new or you’re making extensive alterations to existing ones then consider scheduling a training session.  This is the most effective way to ensure all relevant personnel are familiar with the changes but also to clarify why the changes have been made.  It is common practice for procedures to be kept on a shared area within a company’s IT system so that individuals can access them whenever they need to.  If any minor changes are made then relevant personnel should be informed and directed to the specific area of the document.

A Crash Course in Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are an integral component of day to day live. Whether in the workplace, schools, hospitals or even just in the home, extinguishers provide an essential safety measure against the outbreak of fire. There are many different types of fires which can start and therefore corresponding extinguishers. It can be confusing as to which device is required for which situation. The following is a quick how-to guide on all of the different fire extinguishers you may need and when to use them.

Fire extinguishers are categorised according to colour and these colours will be visible on the device itself, signalling to users what type of fire it should be used for.

Red

Extinguishers in the red category utilise water which includes standard water, water spray and water dry mist varieties. Typically, water extinguishers are designed for use with organic materials such as wood, paper and textiles. Water should never be used to tackle electrical or cooking oil fires for obvious reasons. Water based extinguishers are also unsuitable for fires which are caused by flammable liquids, gases or metals.

A recent addition to the water range is the water mist extinguisher which differs to standard water devices in that it can actually be used on electrical and cooking oil fires as well as on flammable gas and liquid fires.

Blue

The blue category includes both standard powder extinguishers and dry powder extinguishers. Standard powder extinguishes can be used on organic materials, flammable gases and liquids. These devices can even be used on electrical fires but aren’t as effective as their CO2 counterparts and can cause damage to electrical equipment.

Dry powder extinguishers offer the same benefits as the standard devices but with the added benefit of being able to tackle specialist fires such as those which involve lithium, sodium, aluminium or magnesium.

Cream

Extinguishers which are labelled as cream utilise foam and have been designed for use on organic solids and flammable liquids. Foam extinguishers can technically be utilised on electrical fires and will be safer than water but it is recommended that users spray from at least a metre away.

Black

CO2 extinguishers are categorised as black and are mainly used for electrical fires and for this reason are standard issue within office environments. It should be noted that CO2 extinguishers can also be used to tackle flammable liquid fires such as those which involve petrol or propane.

Yellow

Wet chemical extinguishers are categorised as yellow and have been designed for use on cooking oil fires. These devices are particularly useful as no other type of extinguishers are recommended for use on cooking oil fires. With this in mind, wet chemical extinguishers are ideal for kitchen and cooking environments as well as within the home.

It is worth noting that wet chemical extinguishers can also be used on fires with organic materials.

Fire Blankets

Not technically an extinguisher, fire blankets are still incredibly useful and often found in a wide range of environments. The blankets are manufactured using a specialist material and can be used for solid and liquid fires as well as cooking oil fires.

Fire blankets are also suitable for situations where a person’s clothing is on fire and can be wrapped around them in order to extinguish the blaze.

Fires are unexpected and dangerous and knowing which extinguisher to use can mean the difference between life and death. Using the wrong equipment is not only ineffective but can even cause some fires to spread and become larger. Understanding this colour coded system will allow people to install the most suitable extinguisher within a specific environment and use it, should the worst happen.

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