What Are the Requirements for Fire Extinguishers on Vehicles Under the Adr Regulations?

The carriage of dangerous goods by road in the United Kingdom is carefully regulated by 2 pieces of legislation:

  1. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG regs)

  2. The EC agreement “Accord européen relatif au transport international des marchandises dangereuses par route" – known as the ADR regulations.

The regulations set out a set of guidelines for all vehicles carrying substances or goods classified as hazardous, including guidelines on providing adequate fire protection equipment such as fire extinguishers.

So what is meant by a ‘hazardous’ load?  Hazardous substances are classified as any of the following:

  • Class 1 Explosive substances and articles
  • Class 2 Gases
  • Class 3 Flammable liquids
  • Class 4.1 Flammable solids, self-reactive substances, polymerizing substances and solid desensitized explosives
  • Class 4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  • Class 4.3 Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
  • Class 5.1 Oxidizing substances
  • Class 5.2 Organic peroxides
  • Class 6.1 Toxic substances
  • Class 6.2 Infectious substances
  • Class 7 Radioactive material
  • Class 8 Corrosive substances
  • Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

Each entry in the list has been assigned a specific UN number.

Where vehicles are carrying, or are sometimes required to carry, any hazardous material, fire extinguishing equipment must be provided.  The size and number of fire extinguishers required varies according to the vehicle’s maximum gross weight, but is summarised in the following table: 

Transport unit

maximum

permissible mass

Minimum

number of

fire

extinguishers

Minimum

total capacity

per transport

unit

Extinguisher suitable for

engine or cab fire. At least

one with a minimum

capacity of:

Additional

extinguisher(s)

requirement. At least

one extinguisher shall

have a minimum

capacity of:

Up to 3.5 tonnes

2

4 kg

2 kg

2 kg

 3.5 tonnes to

7.5 tonnes

2

8 kg

2 kg

6 kg

Over 7.5 tonnes

2

12 kg

2 kg

6 kg

The capacities are for dry powder devices (or an equivalent capacity for any other suitable extinguishing

agent).

 

For example, a 3.5 t Mercedes Sprinter carrying a hazardous substance must carry 2 fire extinguishers totalling a minimum of 4 kg weight, including one with at least 2 kg Dry Powder dedicated for a cab or engine fire.  In this instance, 2 x 2 kg Dry Powder fire extinguishers would be an acceptable minimum.

A 44-ton curtain-sided articulated truck must also have 2 extinguishers on board, with a minimum total capacity of 12 kg of Dry Powder.  One must be specifically for a cab or engine fire and must hold at least 2 kg of Dry Powder.  You must then provide an additional 10 kg of Dry Powder, with no extinguisher containing less than 6 kg of Dry Powder.  A common setup is a 3 kg Dry Powder in the cab, with a 1 x 9 kg Dry Powder unit mounted on the trailer.  If the tractor unit (cab) is sometimes used with other trailers, you must fit an additional 9 kg unit to the cab, to ensure even if the trailer has no extinguisher fitted the whole vehicle complies.  The additional 9kg Dry Powder is normally mounted in a Single Extinguisher Cabinet on the back of the cab.

Note that Dry Powder fire extinguishers are specifically referenced.  This is due to their multi-class fire rating – their ability to tackle nearly every classification of fire, including Class A (flammable solids such as wood, paper and textiles), Class B (flammable liquids) and Class C (flammable gases), as well as being completely safe for use on live electrical equipment.  Other types of extinguishers can be used, but they must have similar or better fire fighting capabilities, both in respect of the types of fires they can tackle, and their overall fire ratings.

Another key point is that the fire extinguishers should be subject to a system of regular inspection in accordance with authorised national standards in order to guarantee their functional safety.  Here in the UK, the standard that they must be inspected to is BS5306 Part 3.

The final notable point on the ADR Regulations which must be considered stipulates that fire extinguishers must be installed in such a way so as to prevent the effects of the weather compromising the operational performance of the fire extinguishers.  The extinguisher for the cab is generally mounted inside the cab, covering this point perfectly.  However, fire extinguishers too big for in-cab mounting, or extinguishers mounted on the trailer, must be adequately protected.  This is normally done by mounting inside a weather-sealed fire extinguisher cabinet.  A range of sizes and styles is available, from traditional ‘front loading’ cabinets to the ‘top loaders’ that have been specifically designed for mounting on vehicles.  These ‘top loaders’ offer the very best protection for fire extinguishers on vehicles.

Of course, your vehicle doesn’t have to carry dangerous goods for it to be a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher!  Fire can strike without warning, and a vehicle fire quickly turns to a complete loss of the vehicle if not tackled fast and early.  If you rely on your vehicle, don’t take the chance – make sure you have an adequate and operational fire extinguisher handy at all times.  You never know when you might need it, even to help someone else!

The full text of the ADR regulations is as follows:

 

FIRE-FIGHTING EQUIPMENT

8.1.4.1

The following table shows the minimum provisions for portable fire extinguishers for the inflammability Classes A, B and C that apply to transport units carrying dangerous goods except for those referred to in 8.1.4.2: 

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Transport unit

maximum

permissible mass

Minimum

number of

fire

extinguishers

Minimum

total capacity

per transport

unit

Extinguisher suitable for

engine or cab fire. At least

one with a minimum

capacity of:

Additional

extinguisher(s)

requirement. At least

one extinguisher shall

have a minimum

capacity of:

£ 3,5 tonnes

2

4 kg

2 kg

2 kg

> 3,5 tonnes

£ 7,5 tonnes

2

8 kg

2 kg

6 kg

> 7,5 tonnes

2

12 kg

2 kg

6 kg

The capacities are for dry powder devices (or an equivalent capacity for any other suitable extinguishing

agent).

 

8.1.4.2

Transport units carrying dangerous goods in accordance with 1.1.3.6 shall be equipped with one portable fire extinguisher for the inflammability classes A, B and C, with a minimum capacity of 2 kg dry powder (or an equivalent capacity for any other suitable extinguishing agent).

 

8.1.4.3

The portable fire extinguishers shall be suitable for use on a vehicle and shall comply with the relevant requirements of EN 3 Portable fire extinguishers, Part 7 (EN 3-7:2004 + A1:2007). If the vehicle is equipped with a fixed fire extinguisher, automatic or easily brought into action for fighting a fire in the engine, the portable extinguisher need not be suitable for fighting a fire in the engine. The extinguishing agents shall be such that they are not liable to release toxic gases into the driver’s cab or under the influence of the heat of the fire.

 

8.1.4.4

The portable fire extinguishers conforming to the provisions of 8.1.4.1 or 8.1.4.2 shall be fitted with a seal that allows verifying that they have not been used. The fire extinguishers shall be subjected to inspections in accordance with authorized national

standards in order to guarantee their functional safety. They shall bear a mark of compliance with a standard recognized by a competent authority and a mark indicating the date (month, year) of the next inspection or of the maximum permissible period of use, as applicable.

 

8.1.4.5

The fire extinguishers shall be installed on the transport units in a way that they are easily accessible to the vehicle crew. The installation shall be carried out in such a way that the fire extinguishers shall be protected against the effects of the weather so that their operational safety is not affected. During carriage, the date required in 8.1.4.4 shall not have expired.

 

Source: https://adrbook.com/en/2017/ADR/8.1.4

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