Extinguishing fires for over 25 Years
Schools and universities are legally required to undertake risk assessments to establish the fire safety measures needed for your specific site, buildings, and needs.
As a general rule in schools, colleges and universities, there should be one Class A fire extinguisher available every 200m2, with at least two of these per floor. However it is not quite as simple as just that, so why not let the school fire extinguisher specialists look after things for you?
In educational facilities, one of the first things you must do is undertake a risk assessment. This will involve assessing your premises and discovering what safety measures you need to take and where extinguishers are needed. You must also ensure the students in your care are educated on the fire safety measures and designate specific teachers or members of staff to be fire marshals, who will be trained in using the fire extinguishers safely and effectively.
Undertstanding fire classes
When dealing with any type of fire the main priority, once everybody is safe, is to fully understand what type of fire you are dealing with so that you can act accordingly. As an example, if you were to throw water over an oil fire the results would be disastrous as this only makes things worse. Once you understand what type of fire you are dealing with you can choose the correct extinguisher for your requirements.
Water extinguishers should only be used for Class A fires which involve organic materials such as wood, paper, coal, and cardboard. It’s a legal requirement of most educational buildings to have a Class A extinguisher, but a foam extinguisher is often preferred due to its ability to also deal with Class B fires.
You would consider using a water extinguisher over a foam extinguisher because it creates less mess and can also cover a larger surface area than most extinguishers, whilst using a mist of water to help protect you from the heat of the fire.
Foam extinguishers are suitable for dealing with Class A and Class B fires which involve organic materials and flammable liquids. As it’s a legal requirement for all educational buildings to have Class A fire extinguishers on every floor, the foam extinguisher is the most commonly found of all extinguishers because, unlike water extinguishers, they also deal with Class B fires.
Also known as an ABC extinguisher (because of the fire Classes they can be deployed on) these extinguishers come with the added benefit of being able to be used on Class D and Class E fires as well, meaning they are suitable for use on electronics and flammable metals. However, the primary reason they are not preferred in most environments is because they should not ideally be used in confined spaces and it’s not easy to clear up the leftover residue once the fire is over.
This type of extinguisher is only suitable for electrical fires under 1000v (a plug socket is 120v as a benchmark) and in the case of some metals such as magnesium and titanium you will require specialist dry powder extinguishers.
Designed for use on Class F fires (cooking oils and fats) this extinguisher can also be used on Class A fires, but water or foam extinguishers are more commonly used here. This type of extinguisher is a legal requirement in commercial kitchens/canteens and should be used inside this environment alongside a fire blanket. This is the only type of extinguisher you should use on Class F fires.
These are mainly used for Class E fires (electrical) as the CO2 suffocates the fire by displacing the oxygen it requires to continue burning. These are a legal requirement in all educational environments where electronics are used, which is pretty much everywhere, and the size of the extinguisher required depends on the voltage of equipment you use. These extinguishers can also be used on Class B fires.
These can often be found in server rooms as well but in most cases, we would suggest a full suppression system inside server rooms to protect valuable data which may be irreplaceable.
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Fire extinguisher commissioning & servicing
As part of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 any equipment such as fire extinguishers ‘should be subject to a suitable system of maintenance and be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order, and in good repair’. Essentially this means that you need to have your fire extinguishers commissioned on-site by a competent person to the BS 5360-3 standard before you can certify that you have fulfilled your responsibility in accordance with your commercial fire risk assessment. This commissioning even applies to brand new extinguishers as they could have been damaged, discharged, or lost pressure during delivery.
After the initial commissioning, in accordance with the BS 5036-6 regulation, you must visually inspect your extinguishers monthly, have them undergo a basic service every 12 months, and then have them undergo an advanced service every 5 years. Note: CO2 extinguishers are higher pressure and so require different servicing, with an extended service required every 10 years and is called an overhaul.
What can Chris Lewis do for you?
Every building is different, and it can be confusing to know where to even start with fire safety in your school, college, or university. Chris Lewis are here to help, advising you on the best fire extinguisher solution for your organisation, and the legal requirements associated with this.
We can come to your site, assess these requirements and then advise you accordingly. Plus, with our extensive care plans and maintenance packages, we can ensure your school remains protected and compliant both now and long into the future. Got fire extinguishers not currently provided by Chris Lewis? No problem. We can service and commission extinguishers regardless of if we installed them or not so get in touch and see how we can help you today.