All businesses need to consider the threat of fire, and none more so than those where packaging material is regularly stored. Whilst every effort should be made to reduce the risk by storing materials safely and possibly investing in shredding equipment such as the Intimus Pacmaster S – to reduce the amount of unnecessary cardboard that is left hanging around – it is also essential to ensure that the right fire extinguishers are in place.
Fire Risk Assessment
Your obligatory fire risk assessment will give you the best idea of which extinguishers you need, depending on particular areas and risk factors. The assessment will also indicate where your extinguishers need to be placed, but it is also useful to have some knowledge of the equipment available and how it should be fitted.
It is vital that extinguishers are installed to make them easily accessible and simple to remove. They also need to be obvious to anyone, whether they regularly work in the premises or are visiting for the first time.
Materials that may be affected by fire are placed into six classes, rated from A to F, and there are different extinguishers particularly suited to dealing with each category.
For solid materials such as plastics, paper and wood a water extinguisher is best, but these should not be employed if electricity or flammable liquids are involved. Foam extinguishers are used for liquids, whilst dry powder varieties are a multi-purpose, if messy, option. Electrical fires require a carbon dioxide extinguisher, and a wet chemical version is best for oil fires.
Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can be extremely dangerous, and so it is essential to get professional advice if in doubt.
It is essential that all extinguishers are maintained properly to ensure that there are no pressure leaks which could impair their performance and that all the moving parts inside are working as they should. It’s also important to keep the paperwork associated with maintenance in your records to show due diligence.
All employees should know where the fire extinguishers are, which to use and how to operate them. They should also know when to attempt to fight a fire, when there is the need to call the fire brigade immediately and when to leave the building. Regular fire drills are important to ensure everyone knows how to react in an emergency.