Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
November 28, 2017

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Four in 10 construction workers use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on electrical fires

Nearly four in 10 (38%) construction workers are using the wrong type of fire extinguisher to deal with electrical fires, a survey has revealed.

Commissioned by Bull Products, the survey found that 10% would use a foam extinguisher to put out an electrical fire.

Foam extinguishers are better suited to dealing with fires involving paper, wood, cloth, or plastic, as well as flammable liquids like paraffin, petrol, and oil. Smothering the fire with a foam film, they starve it of oxygen and cool burning materials.

Another 27% used ABC powder fire extinguishers (or dry powder extinguishers), which are suited to solids, flammable liquids and flammable gases – Class A, B, and C fires. They should never be used in small, confined spaces if there is a risk of inhaling the powder.

Both types of fire extinguisher can badly damage equipment that may be unaffected by the fire itself.

Canvassing the views of site managers and supervisors, and health and safety managers/officers, among others, the survey also revealed that 8% admitted they didn’t know which fire extinguisher they should use and 7% were unaware of the universal colour-coded system for fire extinguishers.

“Each year, there are 40,000 fires in the workplace, which can put the lives of workers at risk but using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can also have major consequences,” said Bradley Markham, director at Bull Products, which specialises in developing life safety equipment for the industry.

“Not only can it maximise the spread of a fire, it can cause major damage to a site and equipment, thus costing companies millions of pounds to repair the damage.

“On an electrical fire, a C02 fire extinguisher is the safest option as it leaves no residue and is an ideal solution for extinguishing fires involving electrical appliances as it does not cause damage to the site.

“Using the correct fire safety equipment is of utmost importance, and it’s crucial that health and safety managers train workers so that everyone on site is aware and understand what type of fire extinguishers to use and in what situation.”







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