Firefighting Equipment You Need For Your Workplace
You know the drill. The practice fire drills you need to do in workplaces regularly to meet workplace health and safety requirements that is. But do you know what kind of firefighting equipment you might need in your workplace?
Depending on what your company does and the work health and safety risks you have, there is a plethora of firefighting equipment that could help to save your employees or your facilities. In this blog we’re going to run through all the different kinds of firefighting equipment you might need in your workplace.
Why is fire safety important?
Each and every workplace needs a unique firefighting emergency plan in place. This should be organised by the chief fire warden and executed by the fire wardens to ensure the safety of employees, visitors to the building and the facility itself.
Keeping the right firefighting tools at hand and having trained staff who can facilitate fire safety plans is paramount to your company’s emergency action operations.
Types of Fires
There are six classes of fires each relating to the cause and what substance, or matter is on fire.
- Class A fires are caused by flammable materials such as wood, paper, fabric.
- Class B fires caused by flammable liquids such as petrol, turpentine and paint.
- Class C fires are caused by flammable gases like hydrogen, butane and methane.
- Class D fires are related to combustible metals such as magnesium and aluminum.
- Class E fires involve electrical equipment, once the electrical item is removed the fire class changes to the cause.
- Class F fires are cooking fires, anything where cooking oils and fats are on fire.
Types of fire extinguishers
There are six types of fire extinguishers and they each have specific uses.
Water and Air Extinguishers – The red band
These are air and water fire extinguishers, and they have a red band. These are used for Class A fires caused by combustible materials or solid flammable items such as wood, paper and fabric.
These water and air extinguishers cannot be used for flammable liquids such as petrol or paint, flammable gases, electrical equipment or cooking fats and oils.
Foam Extinguishers – The blue band
These foam extinguishers have a blue band, and they are used for Class A fires caused by flammable materials such as paper, wood and fabric and Class B fires caused by flammable liquids such as paint and petrol. These extinguishers work by forming a layer over the top of the fire which cuts off the oxygen supply.
The foam extinguishers cannot be used to put out fires caused by flammable gases, flammable metals, electrical fires or cooking fires.
CO2 Extinguishers – The black band
These fire extinguishers use CO2 or carbon dioxide, and they have a black band. They are used primarily for Class E fires caused by electrical equipment they will not damage electrical equipment. They can also be used for Class B fires caused by flammable liquids. These extinguishers work by suffocating the fire and removing access to oxygen and heat.
These extinguishers are not recommended for use on Class A fires – flammable objects such as paper and wood, or to put fires caused by flammable gases, metals or cooking fats and oils.
Dry Powder Extinguishers – The white band
These dry chemical extinguishers can be either ABE or BE. These extinguishers use chemical powders to remove the elements that help a fire thrive; oxygen and heat.
ABE extinguishers can be used on Class A fires, caused by flammable materials such as paper and wood, Class B fires caused by flammable liquids like petrol and paint and Class E fires caused by electrical faults.
BE extinguishers can be used on Class B fires, so all fires caused by flammable liquids, Class E fires caused by electrical fires, and they can extinguish small cooking related fires, but they are not the preferred extinguishers for that class of fire.
You cannot use dry powder extinguishers for fires involving metals or gases.
Wet Chemical Extinguishers – yellow band
These wet chemical extinguishers can be identified by their yellow band. These extinguishers work by creating a barrier between the fire and the fuel. They contain a solution that includes potassium, and they smother the fire and remove heat. These extinguishers were developed for cooking related fires and can be used in commercial kitchens.
They will also work on Class A fires caused by wood, paper and other flammable objects. But these extinguishers should not be used for Class B fires caused by flammable liquids, Class C fires caused by gases, Class D fires involved flammable metals or Class E fires with electrical equipment.
For more information about different types of fire extinguishers, click here.
Now that we’ve covered the different types of fire extinguishers, let’s look at some of the other firefighting equipment that might be needed in a workplace.
Many workplaces have fire blankets installed for use on small fires. Fire blankets are made out of fiberglass and they work by smothering the flames and cutting off oxygen to the fire preventing it from growing.
Fire blankets should only be used in the event that the fire is smaller than the blanket and they are most commonly used in cooking fires.
Once used they should be allowed to cool down and then thrown out, they can’t be reused. You can learn more about fire blankets here.
Smoke alarms and detectors
There are two commonly used types of smoke alarms in residential dwellings Australia.
Ionisation smoke alarms
Ionisation smoke alarms have a type of radioactive material that causes a reaction to the particles emitted by fires and that sets off the alarm. However, there is conjecture as to the efficiency of this type of smoke alarm for residential fires.
Photoelectric smoke alarms
Photoelectric smoke alarms work by using a photo cell and light beam in the chamber of the alarm. When smoke enters the chamber, it interrupts the light beam, and the sensor picks up on this and sounds the alarm. This is the type of smoke alarm recommended by all Australian state fire authorities.
There are also two main types found in commercial use in Australia, carbon monoxide alarm and heat alarms.
Carbon monoxide alarms are targeted towards buildings with central heating system, such as gas heated buildings in order to detect heating faults.
Heat alarms are made to detect heat rather than smoke, making them perfect for kitchens.
Fire Safety Signs
Fire safety signage is required in all workplaces. Depending on the size of your workplace, the staff numbers, the fire safety equipment and fire safety plans, you’ll have different needs for your signage. Here are some genereal things to think about.
Signage at fire exits
You’ll need clear signage for fire exits to ensure people can find and follow the safest route out of the building in the event of a fire.
Signage for Firefighting equipment
You will need clear signage where you have firefighting equipment stationed so that it can utilised by the appropriate, trained staff member in the event of a fire.
If you need more information about fire safety signs, click here.
If you or your employees need fire safety training, Asset College can offer fire warden courses, firefighting equipment courses and chief fire warden course. If you have any questions about these courses, you can contact us here.