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Can Obstructed Vents on Electrical Equipment Cause a Fire

Can Obstructed Vents on Electrical Equipment Cause a Fire

Fire equipment is crucial in any business and workplace, but how often does fire equipment need to be checked to make sure it is safe and effective? Not only that, but how do you check this equipment, and what should you look for? 

There are different types of fire equipment that you will find in various premises. For example, there will be sprinkler systems, detectors, blankets, extinguishers, and much more. However, fire safety signs should always be right alongside this equipment to give information and direct people in the case of an emergency – so don’t forget to check those, too.  

What Fire Equipment is Necessary?

The type of essential fire equipment you should have in your workplace may vary depending on where you work. With that being said, there is a standard for every workplace to have the following: 

It’s always better to have more fire fighting equipment than you think you will need. Because of this, if you want to get additional equipment and install more systems and measures to help in the case of a fire, we wholly encourage you to do so. 

The more equipment you have to assist in any emergency can be life-saving. However, you need to train people how to use all the equipment, and educate employees. All workplaces are required to have someone who has been first aid trained and is in charge of all fire safety in compliance with the Fire Safety Order 2005

Types of Fire Extinguishers 

Every workplace should have a variety of fire extinguishers at their disposal, or several extinguishers that are suitable for most fires. Using the wrong extinguisher on a fire can be incredibly dangerous, so it should always be clear which type is suitable for which fire. 

Below are the five different types of fire extinguishers:

  • CO2 – these are best for fighting electrical fires and perfect for office environments 
  • Foam – these are best for fighting Class A (textiles, paper, wood and other flammable materials) and Class B (fires burning spirits, paint, patrol, and other liquids) fires 
  • Water – these are best for fighting Class A (textiles, paper, wood and other flammable materials) fires and are ideal for shops, offices, schools, and hospitals
  • Dry powder – these are the most versatile and are suitable for all fire types except for cooking oil fires
  • Wet Chemical – these are the only suitable fire extinguishers for cooking oil fires and need to be in all commercial kitchens. This extinguisher can also be used to fight organic material fires

Always know what kind of fire you are dealing with before simply picking up the nearest fire extinguisher. By using the wrong one, you could make a bad situation worse, and far more dangerous. 

How do You Check Fire Equipment?

How Often Does Fire Equipment Need to Be Checked

Some fire equipment is easier to check than others, but they are all just as important as each other. Check your alarms weekly to make sure they are in good working order, and get someone in to fix them if they don’t work. 

Depending on the equipment, different kinds of checks and services need to be carried out, so make sure you know what is expected of you if you are the one in charge of this area. 

How Often Does Fire Equipment Need to Be Checked?

Fire equipment needs to be checked regularly to ensure that it is suitable for use should the worse happen. Every workplace must have someone who is qualified to carry out these checks, and professionals need to be called in where necessary. 

There should be an annual plan to follow in order to keep track of when checks are needed. This will help you stay organised and know exactly what to focus on, as different fire equipment should be checked at different stages. 

Below are the important checks you need to remember: 

  • Fire alarms – weekly checks
  • Fire extinguishers – weekly checks; annual services
  • Emergency lighting – monthly checks; annual 3-hour test
  • Sprinkler systems – annual checks
  • Fire suppression system – tested twice a year; annual service
  • Fire safety signage – signs should be replaced every 10 years or so; annual checks to ensure they meet safety guidelines and are still reflective. Signs like the fire assembly point sign may need to be checked more frequently due to the elements. 

Other checks that should be carried out:

  • Electrical equipment – ensure cables and wires are not damaged and plug sockets are not hot or overloaded
  • Fire doors and exist – ensure structures are sound, visible, and unobstructed 
  • Bins – bins must be emptied regularly as they are the most common target for parson; ensure unauthorised personnel cannot access the waste; keep bins away from doors, windows, and roofs   
  • Emergency plan – every workplace must have an emergency plan ready in the case of an accident happening. This should include everyone’s roles, contingency plans, assembly points, evacuation arrangements, and alarm systems
  • Proper signage – no matter where you are, every workplace needs to have the correct signage on display. Signage will differ, for example from a commercial kitchen to an office, but all are necessary. This includes first aid posters

How is a Fire Extinguisher Inspection Carried Out?

British Standards dictate that fire extinguishers need to be inspected and serviced by a competent person – in other words, an engineer. The engineer must carry out the inspection every year, with a more thorough inspection happening for all fire extinguishers except for the CO2 type, which requires an extended inspection every 10 years. 

When fire extinguishers are being inspected, the technician will look for things like damage, corrosion, safety pins, tamper seals, obstructions, and more. Once the inspection is complete, the engineer will mark their findings on fire extinguisher service labels (fire inspection tags), and every fire extinguisher will pass or be defective. 

Defective extinguishers will get a label that will dictate what should be done with it – either corrective action, or replaced. In both cases, whoever is in charge needs to carry out the corrections or replacements as soon as possible. 

What Happens if You Use an Out-of-Date or Damaged Fire Extinguisher?

If you don’t get your fire extinguishers checked, replaced, or corrected, the primary issue that can occur is depressurisation. This is when the extinguisher loses pressure and can become inoperable, making it useless in the fight against a fire. 

It’s important to note that the contents of fire extinguishers do not expire, so this is not something you need to worry about. If your fire extinguishers do not have the right internal pressure, you should take them to a professional fire protection technician to get it sorted out and serviced as soon as possible.  

Let Us Make a Lasting Impression

Fire equipment is crucial for every workplace and building, and it can save lives should the worst ever happen. However, you need to ensure that it is maintained and checked, and all other precautions are in place, too. 

From using the right sign colours for fire equipment and having clear, illuminated safety signs, everything plays a role when we are talking about safety. Depending on the type and size of business or workplace, safety equipment and signage might vary, which is why it is so important to carry out risk assessments to get the right ones. 

At the end of the day, employers and employees are all responsible for making their workplace safe, and there are particular roles and measures in place to help. From inspections and services to regular checks, there are no shortcuts. 

So, how often does fire equipment need to be checked? The answer depends on the piece of equipment, but most systems and equipment should either be checked weekly or monthly, with fire extinguishers getting annual checks and a full service every 5 or 10 years depending on the type.