An Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association (IFEDA) members survey has provided some alarming findings about the risks of fire extinguishers not working correctly.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents stated that they were now encountering extinguishers that had been procured by online methods. In the vast majority of instances this equipment had been placed into positions of usage many months with increased potential for incorrect extinguishers being used on fires and danger of injury to potential users of the equipment.
In almost 80% of cases it was found that extinguishers purchased via online sources were installed into buildings without receiving the required ‘commissioning service’ as specified by British Standards.
Examples of common errors included: – extinguishers placed into ready to use locations by untrained persons without discharge hoses fitted; – inappropriate extinguishers placed in areas to cover the risks present; – carbon dioxide extinguishers placed into service without diffuser horns being correctly secured.
There were even examples of extinguishers which had leaked their contents during transit and were then unwittingly placed into service totally empty.
The survey also highlighted that up to 60% of businesses and properties that had ‘self’ installed fire extinguishers did not meet even the basic requirements of BS5306 Parts 3 and Part 8.
This perturbing finding has the potential, following any form of fire, for major disputes with insurance companies in the event of any claims; in the most extreme cases it could involve legal action against responsible persons under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO).
As a consequence IFEDA is now advising all its members to make their customers aware of these findings. IFEDA further advises that all businesses, organisations and persons who require fire safety equipment should, as a very minimum, seek professional advice from an approved fire protection company prior to making any purchases.