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Author Topic: Signs for extinguishers and fire call points  (Read 1378 times)
Fire Monkey
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« on: October 12, 2017, 10:24:41 AM »

Hello,

Can any one advise please on the requirements for signage for fire extinguishers and fire call points. If one was carrying out a fire risk assessment and all of the occupants were familiar with their surroundings i.e. very few visitors would there be a need for these signs (assuming that in all other areas the building was fundamentally safe and the significant findings of the FRA were simple and quick to rectify) unless if call points or extinguishers were partially or completely hidden? I am assuming that in a well managed building that if a fire extinguisher went missing (off its hood or stand) that this would be reported by staff and reported appropriately and a replacement installed. I am assuming that the level of emergency lighting is suitable and sufficient and that photo luminescent signs are not required. I also assume that in fire station such signs would not be required as those fire fighters wold have sufficient training!

If know that there is a need to consider BS5499 and that suitable training is required under the regs and the latter can be dealt with through the FRA and subsequent support (as an internal FRA assessor I would be responsible for delivering on the Action Points). I have supplied Fire Books that contain a section of extinguishers that explain their use.

I can understand that signs may be required in large public access buildings, especially where the means of escape of complicated or if multiple stories are involved but in well managed, buildings, lower risk buildings,  as  I see these as potentially an un-necessary business expense that does little to add to fire safety. I would take the view that if it can be shown that the risks have been understood and if required reduced or eliminated then signs may not required and the need or lack of need could be justified in the FRA. This should, if I assess properly even take into account the Provision Use of Work Equipment 1988.

Or should we just fit these signs every where?

Thoughts/comments wold be most welcome.

FM


 
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nearlythere
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 11:20:06 AM »

Hello,

Can any one advise please on the requirements for signage for fire extinguishers and fire call points. If one was carrying out a fire risk assessment and all of the occupants were familiar with their surroundings i.e. very few visitors would there be a need for these signs (assuming that in all other areas the building was fundamentally safe and the significant findings of the FRA were simple and quick to rectify) unless if call points or extinguishers were partially or completely hidden? I am assuming that in a well managed building that if a fire extinguisher went missing (off its hood or stand) that this would be reported by staff and reported appropriately and a replacement installed. I am assuming that the level of emergency lighting is suitable and sufficient and that photo luminescent signs are not required. I also assume that in fire station such signs would not be required as those fire fighters wold have sufficient training!

If know that there is a need to consider BS5499 and that suitable training is required under the regs and the latter can be dealt with through the FRA and subsequent support (as an internal FRA assessor I would be responsible for delivering on the Action Points). I have supplied Fire Books that contain a section of extinguishers that explain their use.

I can understand that signs may be required in large public access buildings, especially where the means of escape of complicated or if multiple stories are involved but in well managed, buildings, lower risk buildings,  as  I see these as potentially an un-necessary business expense that does little to add to fire safety. I would take the view that if it can be shown that the risks have been understood and if required reduced or eliminated then signs may not required and the need or lack of need could be justified in the FRA. This should, if I assess properly even take into account the Provision Use of Work Equipment 1988.

Or should we just fit these signs every where?

Thoughts/comments wold be most welcome.

FM


 

I don't do signs at MCPs FM. Its too late if you expect someone to have to read a set of instructions on a card at a call point if the fire warning is sounding. For employees, or other responsible people attached to the organisation, that should have been done during induction training and refreshed periodically. Where there are people who are unfamiliar with the building or an escape route which is used for that purpose only, there should be exit signage provided and a fire warden system in place.  I would have any exit, which are for public use, signed in a public building. With regards to signs at extinguishers they will usually all have signs on them already and if they are in a location out of sight an additional sign showing where they are if needed, e.g. in a cupboard.

In my opinion anyway.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 11:22:43 AM by nearlythere » Logged

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Tom Sutton
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 12:57:47 PM »

Check out http://www.crisis-response.com/forum/index.php?topic=6210.0
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All my responses only apply to England and Wales and they are an overview of the subject, hopefully it will point you in the right direction and always treat with caution.
Fire Monkey
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 03:15:16 PM »

Great - thanks for the link to the other thread. Most useful.

Any thoughts on replacing 6L foam units with 3L ones. Has extinguisher technology improved to the point where these units  can be smaller yet still have the same fire fighting capacity?

Also has any one come across any data regarding foam units, that are five years old and the need to replace them or carry out a discharge test? I am interest to know what the discharge test failure rate is. basically I would like to know if the discharge test is worthwhile doing.

Thanks

FM
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Tom Sutton
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 04:21:16 PM »

No, the fire rating for afff foam extinguishers is 9 litre 183B, 6 litre 144B, 3 litre 55B, you would need three 3 litre foams to replace a 6 litre, better to stay with the 6 litre.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 04:25:42 PM by Tom Sutton » Logged

All my responses only apply to England and Wales and they are an overview of the subject, hopefully it will point you in the right direction and always treat with caution.
Owain
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 04:56:29 PM »

I also assume that in fire station such signs would not be required as those fire fighters wold have sufficient training!

Not everyone working in a fire station will be a firefighter. Larger stations may have 'civilian' support staff.

And it is possible in smaller stations that when there's a call-out all the fire service staff jump on the appliances and roar off into the sunset sirens wailing, leaving no supervisory or support staff on site, but painters and plumbers etc carrying out maintenance will be left to get on with their job. They may be unfamiliar with the premises.

In fully retained stations with no staff on duty said painters and plumbers etc may be given a key and left to get on with it.
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Messy
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 07:28:07 PM »

I agree that fire action notices by MCPs are a waste of time. Nearly all MCPs are on circulation routes or by exits from the building, so who the hell will be stopping to read them? We put fire action notices in tea points and on the back of toilet doors - at reading height when sitting! Seriously - who can avoid reading when, er, waiting.

As for fire extinguisher signs - again, we do not use them. The only exception is a bespoke sign we display above our Class D powder extinguishers (for metal fires) to highlight 1) it is a specialist extinguisher 2) only trained staff should use it and 3) it is not safe on electrical fires

We never sign a MCP. If a person doesn't recognise this red glass fronted box as a MCP, I doubt a red pointy finger sign will help. However, we do sign green break glass door overrides and yellow vent break glasses (again, with bespoke signs), as people generally don't know what they are.

I hate the 'over signage' that you find in so many places. My hatred probably stems from some terrible times I spent when I was younger at Youth Hostels that had signs every 2 metres (don't do this. Please do that etc) Roll Eyes
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nearlythere
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 07:52:09 PM »

I also assume that in fire station such signs would not be required as those fire fighters wold have sufficient training!

Not everyone working in a fire station will be a firefighter. Larger stations may have 'civilian' support staff.

And it is possible in smaller stations that when there's a call-out all the fire service staff jump on the appliances and roar off into the sunset sirens wailing, leaving no supervisory or support staff on site, but painters and plumbers etc carrying out maintenance will be left to get on with their job. They may be unfamiliar with the premises.

In fully retained stations with no staff on duty said painters and plumbers etc may be given a key and left to get on with it.
Contractors are required to be provided with fire safety information for where they are working so as to ensure their safety. That should include the means of escape. 
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nearlythere
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 07:56:48 PM »

I agree that fire action notices by MCPs are a waste of time. Nearly all MCPs are on circulation routes or by exits from the building, so who the hell will be stopping to read them? We put fire action notices in tea points and on the back of toilet doors - at reading height when sitting! Seriously - who can avoid reading when, er, waiting.

As for fire extinguisher signs - again, we do not use them. The only exception is a bespoke sign we display above our Class D powder extinguishers (for metal fires) to highlight 1) it is a specialist extinguisher 2) only trained staff should use it and 3) it is not safe on electrical fires

We never sign a MCP. If a person doesn't recognise this red glass fronted box as a MCP, I doubt a red pointy finger sign will help. However, we do sign green break glass door overrides and yellow vent break glasses (again, with bespoke signs), as people generally don't know what they are.

I hate the 'over signage' that you find in so many places. My hatred probably stems from some terrible times I spent when I was younger at Youth Hostels that had signs every 2 metres (don't do this. Please do that etc) Roll Eyes
Or what about a sign saying don't put any signs here Messy?

Anyone noticed the number of "Fire Exit - Keep Clear signs on main entrance doors or a Fire Door - Keep Shut sign on an inner entrance lobby door or outside a final exit door.
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Fishy
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 08:24:27 PM »

I agree that fire action notices by MCPs are a waste of time. Nearly all MCPs are on circulation routes or by exits from the building, so who the hell will be stopping to read them? We put fire action notices in tea points and on the back of toilet doors - at reading height when sitting! Seriously - who can avoid reading when, er, waiting.

As for fire extinguisher signs - again, we do not use them. The only exception is a bespoke sign we display above our Class D powder extinguishers (for metal fires) to highlight 1) it is a specialist extinguisher 2) only trained staff should use it and 3) it is not safe on electrical fires

We never sign a MCP. If a person doesn't recognise this red glass fronted box as a MCP, I doubt a red pointy finger sign will help. However, we do sign green break glass door overrides and yellow vent break glasses (again, with bespoke signs), as people generally don't know what they are.

I hate the 'over signage' that you find in so many places. My hatred probably stems from some terrible times I spent when I was younger at Youth Hostels that had signs every 2 metres (don't do this. Please do that etc) Roll Eyes

One day, I'll find the picture that I had of a 'Fire Exit' sign screwed inside the (only) door of a toilet cubicle.
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AnthonyB
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 09:18:34 PM »

No, the fire rating for afff foam extinguishers is 9 litre 183B, 6 litre 144B, 3 litre 55B, you would need three 3 litre foams to replace a 6 litre, better to stay with the 6 litre.

It's not been that simple for years, different foam compounds and spray nozzles from different manufacturers mean that you can get 6 litre models rated 34A:183B and 9 litre models rated 43A:233B. Some standard 6 litre foams now are 21A and the 3 litre models are almost all 13A and several are now 70B not 55B.

A lot of people are installing on capacity (as in the pre 80's days when there were no fire ratings) meaning that where a customer has a fire point of 2 x 13A 6 litre foams replaced they sometimes end up with 2 x 27A rated foams in their place when they could have reduced to 1 (most foam extinguisher installations aren't based on the need for a particular B rating, just the A rating)

Discharge testing/extended servicing foams (or indeed any wet) is in theory worth doing if you already have the training and equipment and certainly with the UK & US made kit, however with imported stuff it has been hit and miss with regards to linings being OK (although this seems to have improved in recent years). Many people don't bother though because of the need to give staff additional training and equipment (filling has been off the service syllabus for years), environmental restrictions, time costs, failure rates and low new equipment prices.

Extinguisher signage - the intention was to sign only if not in plain view (the Government Guidance reflects this) but the way the relevant article in the Order is written is with such terrible grammar that it's easy to read it as needing signage regardless of location and the extinguisher trade have lobbied hard enough to get this also reflected in the sales guide that is BS5306-8.

Call point signage - with newer call points that comply with EN54 and use a pictogram instead of 'FIRE' unless they are not in clear view or need to be seen from a distance I don't automatically require extra signage as the call point already has it.

Fire Action Signs - The DCLG guidance suggests these should still be used in larger or complex premises next to call points and this is a throwback to the Fire Precautions Act days when a fire certificate would invariably require Notice N1 (or N2) next to each manual call point. To me these are more use next to a call point than the call point pictogram as they not only draw you to the MCP but then tell you what to do (not everyone remembers their training)
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Anthony Buck
Fire Safety Technical Lead at a BAFE SP205 accredited consultancy

Extinguisher/Fire History Enthusiast

Fire Extinguisher Facebook Group:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=65...415&ref=ts
http://www.youtube.com/user/contactacb
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/anthony-buck-36b9572
Fire Monkey
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 11:12:03 AM »

Hello,

So If I has a large portfolio of buildings and the extinguisher serving company was saying to be we can roll out all of your 6L units (as they expire) and replace then with 3L units and it will be cheaper - is this something I want. What I would like to understand is if there is any industry data on the value of replacing your foam and water units after 5 years or if it is financially worthwhile getting your servicing company to carry out dis-charge tests and then re-charging the units and keeping them rather than buying new. If they pass the test they could be kept for another 5 years and then replaced? Surely they must be some data out there that would show the average number of pass/fails that would indicate if this is a dir3ection worth pursuing?

Can you please explain what these different ratings are - eg 43A and 21A - what can I relate this to? Same applies to 144B and 55B. What I need to understand what the genuine difference in fire fighting capacity is (what does the A & B rating mean) and if there any fire safety industry support for having units that clearly have a reduced fire fighting capacity from the unit they rep[lace (in a building with a normal risk and occupancy factor).

Thanks,
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Tom Sutton
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 05:03:29 PM »

For ratings check out https://www.firesafe.org.uk/portable-fire-extinguisher-general/ may be useful.
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All my responses only apply to England and Wales and they are an overview of the subject, hopefully it will point you in the right direction and always treat with caution.
AnthonyB
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 07:51:14 PM »

Many organisations servicing extinguishers do not have the equipment or trained staff to recharge an extinguisher and the trade price is so low for some ranges that it's just less hassle to replace new at 5 years and this approach has now become the most common. (There are also those whose 5 year Extended Service is just writing ES on the service label.

Technology is such that capacity is no longer an arbiter of capability - you can get a 3 litre water additive spray rated 13A and a 9 litre water jet rated 13A:
- Both can be used to cover 200 sq.m. of floorspace in a building
- Both have extinguished a pine crib test fire of 1.3m x 0.5 x 0.56
- The 3 litre is safe near electrical equipment unlike the 9 litre
- The 3 litre only weighs 5.5.kg against 13kg & is easier (& more likely to be used) to handle
- The fire fighting capacity is the same for both

Similarly you can get a 6 litre foam extinguisher rated 13A and one rated 27A, the latter allowing you to half the number of extinguishers as it covers double the floor area and has put out a test fire twice as long. When BSEN3 was introduced in 1997 Sainsbury halved the number of extinguishers across their portfolio (hundreds and hundreds of units) by replacing fire points of 2 x 13A rated 6 litre foam extinguishers (Cream Thomas Glover Series 2000 cartridge extinguishers to BS5423) with a fire point of 1 x 27A rated  6 litre foam extinguishers (Red Gloria Imprex cartridge extinguishers to BSEN3).

A lot of technology doesn't reach the end user as extinguisher companies are focused on premises having as many extinguishers as possible and holding the minimum stock of different sizes and capacities and it falls to risk assessors with suitable knowledge to educate the RP and ensure the best provision is made accounting for risk & technology, rather than pure quantity (which often includes cover that is not needed and would never be used as it's in a risk free area)...

A quick way of understanding B ratings is litres of fuel - 144B = 144 litres of heptane over water in a circular tray to a fixed depth - the bigger the number the bigger the litres used for the test fire and the bigger the tray

Here are some extinguisher rating tests being carried out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzHmrZTzVZI&t=
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dWzD1BL0kU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXHGYio4_tE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itje7glf804
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Anthony Buck
Fire Safety Technical Lead at a BAFE SP205 accredited consultancy

Extinguisher/Fire History Enthusiast

Fire Extinguisher Facebook Group:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=65...415&ref=ts
http://www.youtube.com/user/contactacb
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/anthony-buck-36b9572
lancsfirepro
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 02:17:33 PM »

Just going to correct you there Anthony; for class B fire ratings i.e. 144B relates to the total volume of 'liquid' not heptane.  The test calls for 144 litres and that should be made up of 1/3 water and 2/3 heptane.  The heptane floats on top of the water and the water is used to keep the test tray cool.  So in fact a 144B test fire only has 96 litres of heptane in it.

For clarity, when talking about class A fire ratings, the rating on an extinguisher (13A, 21A, 55A etc) relates to the length in metres of the test fire (crib).  A 13A relates to 1.3 metres in length, 21A is 2.1metres, 55A is 5.5 metres.

Anthony is correct that there are 3 litre foam extinguishers that come with high performance foam concentrate and can have a 13A rating and so technically can replace larger extinguishers if the area calculation is satisfied.  However, what people are not being informed about with these 3 litre extinguishers is that the discharge length (the distance the spray will reach) is much reduced, meaning you will need to stand closer to the fire.  Harping back to the manufacturing standard for extinguishers before EN3, which was BS5423, in that standard there used to be a requirement for extinguishers to achieve a certain discharge length; it was 6 metres for water and 4 metres for foam.  This requirement was removed in EN3 and that's why we have seen water 'spray' extinguishers being introduced since they no longer need to hit 6 metres.  This also means that you can have a 3 litre foam extinguisher that has a very fine spray nozzle, which allows for a good fire rating, BUT at the cost of discharge length (since the 4 metre distance requirement was removed) meaning you need to be closer to the fire.  It also requires that the same high performance foam concentrate is required at the 5 yearly extended service and engineers just won't carry that.
We won't supply 3 litre extinguishers to clients and recommend 6 litres as a minimum.  Sure 3 litre extinguishers 'tick the box', but when it comes down to it, we want to provide kit that the user can actually make use of if required.
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