Is your Fire Safety Equipment protected?

Do you own, run or are responsible for fire safety in a public building, for example schools, retail shops, hotels or pubs?  Did you know that extinguishers in these environments are very susceptible to vandalism or being stolen?

Whilst built tough and able to withstand all sorts of accidental damage, fire extinguishers are easy to vandalise.  This can seriously reduce their effectiveness, or even stop them working completely.  They are also (by design!) extremely portable and easy to carry, so they regularly get moved for all sorts of ‘duties’, rarely getting replaced.

Can you imagine the consequences of a fire breaking out in a hotel or school, and the extinguishers are not there, or have been vandalised and won’t work?  Potentially lethal.

BS5306 is the British Standard that covers fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises, and Part 8 specifically deals with "Selection and positioning of portable fire extinguishers".  In most public and commercial premises your fire equipment must comply with these Standards.

BS5306-8 stipulates that you should take measures to protect extinguishers from damage, vandalism and theft by using covers, cabinets and alarms.

"Extinguishers located in any public access environment, e.g. schools, colleges, public houses, hotels and retail outlets, are susceptible to vandalism or being stolen. Even minor tampering could result in the extinguisher not operating when called on to do so in a fire situation. Measures should be taken to reduce
the possibility of extinguishers being vandalized or stolen if relocation of the extinguisher to a more secure location is neither desirable nor practical. Such measures could include, but are not limited to, protection covers, boxes and audible alarms."

Most thieves or vandals are opportunists, and go for the easy target.  Even a humble extinguisher cover can be an effective deterrent.  They are extremely low cost, and can considerably reduce cost of rectifying damage or theft.

A cabinet offers even more protection, and is particularly suited to high-traffic areas as it protects against knocks and scrapes.  They can be tamper sealed, and even locked with a break-glass accessible key for an additional level of protection.  Cabinets are perfect for areas where goods are moved on trolleys, as it’s very common for extinguishers to get knocked off the wall and damaged by these trolleys.  A cabinet might get knocked off, but they are remarkably tough and rarely get damaged, and keep the vital extinguisher safe at all times.

An extinguisher alarm is a great deterrent to thieves, or even people deciding that the extinguisher makes a perfect door stop!  The alarms are quickly fitted and highly visual.  If the extinguisher is removed a piercing alarm sounds and quickly alerts others in the area.  If it’s a real emergency, this is a great ‘early warning’ alarm.  If it’s a thief, vandal, or someone wanting to prop their door open, they don’t get away with it and won’t try again!

 

Providing adequate protection for your fire safety equipment, especially fire extinguishers, should form part of your risk assessment.  Consider your premises?  Are there any areas that pose a risk to the extinguishers?

If you identify any areas, consider extinguisher covers or cabinets to provide protection and deter opportunist vandalism.  The cost of damaged or non-existent fire extinguishers could be catastrophic.


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