Fire Extinguisher Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are answers to some frequently asked questions. Click on the questions that others have asked to display the answer. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact us.
Does your business need fire extinguishers?
What type of extinguishers do I need?
Do your extinguishers need servicing?
Do all extinguishers have to be red in colour?
Are the old type extinguishers legal?
Why do some fire extinguishers not have the BS EN3 Kitemark?

Does your business need fire extinguishers?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question.
Point 1. The government guidance stipulates that businesses and non-domestic premises should have fire risk assessments carried out by the ‘responsible person’ and the risk assessment determines what firefighting equipment is required.
Point 2. When it comes to determining what the fire extinguisher requirements are for premises, it is common practice to refer to the relevant British Standard guidance. Much like the ‘Highway Code’, it isn’t the law that these guides are followed but you’d better have a very good reason if you don’t follow them.
Point 3. The British Standards guidance advises all premises require fire extinguishers
Conclusion. There isn’t currently a law that says premises have to have fire extinguishers but failure to follow British standard guidance is likely to land you in hot water so our opinion would be yes you do need fire extinguishers.
What type of extinguishers do I need?
What type of extinguishers do I need? Please see our Fire Extinguishers section here for details.
Do your extinguishers need servicing?
According to British Standards (BS5306 pt. 3) after a commissioning service, fire extinguishers are subject to four types of service. These are:-
Basic Service; This should be carried out at least annually starting 12 months after initial commissioning service e.g. if the extinguisher was installed and commissioned July 2015, it would require a basic service the July 2016.
Extended Service; All extinguishers except for CO2 extinguishers require an extended service at least every 5 years
Overhaul; CO2 extinguishers require an overhaul at least every 10 years
Recharge; All extinguishers that have been discharged/partially discharged require refilling/recharging following British Standard directives or replaced.
All servicing procedures should be carried out by a competent person.
Do all extinguishers have to be red in colour?
The current British and European standards require all fire extinguishers to be red in colour. The previous standard had individual types of extinguisher coloured according to type (e.g. blue-powder, cream-foam, and black-CO2). The current standard retains these colour classifications but only as a band of colour which must be no more than 10% of the extinguisher body.
Are the old type extinguishers legal?
A new harmonised European standard on fire extinguishers – BS EN3 – came into effect on 1st Jan 1997 providing a single standard for fire extinguishers across Europe.It replaced the old British Standard BS 5423, which was withdrawn.BS EN3 is the standard now used for the specification, manufacturing and purchase of extinguishers in the UK. An additional standard BS 7863 details the revised colour coding system, to indicate the extinguishing medium contained in portable fire extinguishers and supplements BS EN3.BS EN3 is not retrospective and pre-existing extinguishers do not need to be replaced with extinguishers to this new standard. However any replacements as a result of damage, wear or un-serviceability or new extinguishers will need to meet this new, later standard.
Why do some extinguishers not have the BS EN3 Kitemark?
Some fire extinguishers for example some small disposable and factory sealed units and chrome/silver finish fall outside the scope of BS EN3 but carry other approvals. Where this is the case it is advisable to only purchase extinguishers that meet similar quality approvals (e.g. extinguishers made in the UK under ISO 9001 Quality Supervision, are tested in accordance with BS EN3, C.E. marked). You should always look for recognized independent approvals when purchasing any fire safety equipment.