It may be difficult to think of much else as you navigate your businesses through this COVID – 19 pandemic but the harsh reality is that Coronavirus does not stop fire.
That’s why, it is ever so important to carry out your monthly extinguisher checks, especially if your business remains open or building is occupied.
While your life safety maintenance partner might assist you by carrying out an annual inspection, as required under IS 291:2015, a lot can happen in a year.
The standard requires that the Responsible Person (a legal term for the person in daily control of a premises) must carry out, or delegate somebody else to carry out, frequent visual checks of the equipment, at intervals of no more than one month apart.
This may be needed more often where a risk assessment finds that more frequent checks are required due to various factors e.g., harsh corrosive environment, regular vandalism, higher than normal fire risk / loadings, etc.
It is important to note that these checks are required even where premises might be unoccupied much of the time.
The main reason for doing so is to ensure that the full extinguisher provision is always available to end users and that any damaged or discharged units are highlighted for attention. Where spares are held on site, these can be used to replace the highlighted units until the annual inspection falls due, or a service engineer can call to refill or replace them if required.
These checks can also highlight theft and misuse of the equipment and even bad practices like using the extinguishers to prop doors open!
Consideration should be given to the following during your monthly extinguisher check:
- Is the extinguisher in the correct location, unobstructed and visible?
- Is the correct signage in use – ID Sign (explaining safe usage) above the handle and Fire Point Sign (highlighting location) above head height?
- Is the unit mounted securely on a bracket, cabinet or stand?
- Is the unit mounted at the correct height? 1m to the handle of any unit over 4kg and 1.5m to the handle of smaller extinguishers (unless dictated otherwise by a risk assessment) • Is there a safety pin fitted, with a safety seal retaining it?
- Where a gauge is fitted, is it in the green section?
- Is there a service label attached and has the unit been inspected in the previous 13 months? (inspections should be annual, but can run over by up to 4 weeks)
- Does the service label show a history of the unit being weighed each year and test discharged every three years as per the standards?
- Are units being upgraded after 10 years?
- Are there any visual signs of damage or corrosion?
The findings of the monthly check should be recorded in the Fire Safety Register for the premises and any action required put into effect. This can often simply mean contacting your service provider for advice or swapping the unit for a spare unit.
Maintaining a proper Fire Register is required under Fire Safety and Health & Safety Legislation also and you may be asked to produce this document during an inspection by the Fire Service, Health & Safety Authority or by the Courts or your insurers subsequent to a fire incident.
Author: Larry Kirwan, Lead Trainer/Technical Sales, Guardian Fire & Safety
Got a question? Contact Larry today on 051 448774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies of IS 291:2015 are available to purchase from National Standards Authority of Ireland at www.nsai.ie