Fire hazards are not to be taken lightly. The very possibility of a fire hazard is alarming and one should put a proper fire protection system in place to ensure the safety of their employees and property.
One of the best ways to fail-proof your fire preparedness is to equip your office with an adequate amount of fire extinguishers. Not only should you install these fire extinguishers, but you should also make it a point to conduct regular fire drills and acquaint your employees with them in case of any emergency. Moreover, fire extinguishers need to be placed in a calculated way and in strategic positions.This ensures maximum approachability, accessibility, and protection.
However, prevention begins with information, and so, we must, first, learn about the different classes of fire.
What are the different classes of fire?
A fire break-out can be categorised into the following six major types:
- Class A fire: Caused by flammable or combustible solid materials like fabric, wood or even paper.
- Class B fire: Caused by flammable liquids including paint, oils, alcohol, petrol etc.
- Class C fire: Caused by flammable gases come under Class C fires. Flammable gases include hydrogen, methane and natural gases.
- Class D fire: Combustible metals cause fires that come under the purview of Class D fires. These metals are potassium, magnesium, aluminium, sodium, etc. Class D fires are industrial hazards.
- Electrical fires: Caused by electrical equipment in offices.
- Class F fire: Caused in kitchens. They occur through oils and grease.
What are the different types of fire extinguishers?
Based on the industry that you work in, the environment and property may have exposure to one class more than the others. There are a few types of fire extinguishers that can be used by offices based on the fire classes they are at most risk of. It is, thus, essential to put an adequate fire extinguisher as part of the fire protection system.
Different types of fire extinguishers are:
- Water-based fire extinguishers: These fire extinguishers are usually meant for Class A fires. This can be used on electrical equipment but caution should be taken.
- Foam extinguishers: Class A and Class B fires are effectively extinguished through foam extinguishers and can also be used on electrical equipment. These are considered most suitable to be placed in office spaces.
- Dry powder fire extinguishers: These types of extinguishers are used in electrical, Class A, Class B and Class C fires. They are available in different sizes and often are not suitable for office uses because they can lead to breathing problems when used indoors.
- CO2 fire extinguishers: These extinguishers are majorly used for extinguishing Class B and electrical fires.
- Wet chemical fire extinguishers: These fire extinguishers are considered to put out Class F fires. These can also be used in case of Class A fires. Although, they are strictly mandated to not be used in Class B fires.
What fire extinguisher is the best for office space?
The type of fire extinguisher to be used in your office depends upon the type of equipment, material or objects present in the office. It also depends upon how big the office space is.
Water-based fire extinguishers are adequate when it comes to extinguishing fires on things like desks, chairs, wood, tiles, carpets, etc.
For electrical equipment like computers, printers, etc.,CO2 based fire extinguishers work the best.
Foam fire extinguishers are mostly used in office spaces. They are fit for use on things like office desks, consumables, and even flammable liquids.
How many fire extinguishers should an office have?
Fire extinguishers need to be adequately placed in offices. It is essential to strategically put fire extinguishers at spots where they are not just easy to pick from, but also safely positioned otherwise. The number of fire extinguishers to be placed in any office also depends upon how big an office is.
Ideally, a fire extinguisher should be placed every 15 metres, in case of an office area prone to Class A fires and every 20 metres, in case of an office area prone to electrical fires.