Every company building, whether an office, factory, warehouse, or laboratory, must be equipped with working fire extinguishers in all areas and every one of these extinguishers has to comply with the relevant work, health and safety legislation currently in force in Australia. These requirements are of course well known to company owners, directors, and safety officers across the country. What may be less well known to those who are responsible for the provision and maintenance of fire safety equipment in the workplace is the exact number of extinguishers that are required in each building or area of a building that is occupied by their company.
Regulations on Fire Extinguisher Type, Quantity, and Location
In order to work out how many extinguishers you need in your workplace and what type they should be, there are a couple of factors that you need to consider:
The Number and Nature of Fire Hazards – The number of hazards present in any given area, along with their nature, will dictate the classification of fire extinguishers that need to be available, along the quantity. If, for example, you are evaluating a normal office space, where administrative tasks are carried out on a daily basis, you will almost certainly find that you need fewer extinguishers than would be the case in an industrial facility where volatile chemicals are handled on a regular basis. Furthermore, the extinguishers you need in the office space will be of a lower classification than those that are required in the industrial facility.
The Size of Your Workspace – The dimensions of the area you are evaluating will need to be taken into account when you are calculating the number of fire extinguishers that will need to be installed. The classification of the extinguishers in question will also come into play when calculating the total quantity required but whatever classification they may be, the distance to the nearest extinguisher from any point in the workspace being evaluated should never be more than 15 metres. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as for workspaces where this may not be possible due to the shape of the building or the positioning of large machinery within it. In such cases, it may be allowable to place clusters of extinguishers at regular intervals across the area.
Assuming that the 15 metre rule is not broken, you can calculate the number of extinguishers that you need in your workspace by referring to the table contained in the Australian Standard for portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets (AS 2444-2001). For example: for Class A Fire Risks, workspaces deemed as hazing a light fire hazard should have at least 1 x 1A fire extinguishers for every 100 m2 of floor space. For Class A Fire Risks in workspaces with a high fire hazard, a minimum of 1 x 2A extinguishers per 150 m2 will be required.
Whatever the quantity and classification of extinguishers you purchase, they must be installed and serviced in accordance with the latest WHS standards. If you have a question about fire safety, please contact us.