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AS 2444

Portable fire extinguisher and fire blankets

AS 2444 – 2001 Portable fire extinguisher and fire blankets

AS 2444 Portable Fire Extinguishers covers all types of portable extinguishers found in a business premises. The standard specifies the type of extinguisher required for different classes of fire, as well as their location within the workplace. All portable fire extinguishers should have a gross mass of no more than 23kg and be hand-operated.

Common Fire Extinguishers used in Australian Businesses

Fire extinguishers are a critical part of keeping your facility safe from fires. The most common types of fire extinguishers found in businesses in Australia are ABE, Water, Co2 and Foam Fire Extinguishers.

Reference: “Fire Safety: Knowing Your Fire Classes & Extinguishers”

To identify the type of fire extinguisher, you can check the colour band around the fire extinguisher or the labelling on the fire extinguisher itself. Another indicator is what’s known as an Identification Sign (ID Sign), which informs the user of the type of extinguisher that’s being used.

AS2444-2001 is broken into Six Sections:

Section 1 – Scope and General

Section 2 – Selection of Portable Fire Extinguishers

Section 3 – Location of Portable Fire Extinguishers

Section 4 – Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers in Buildings

Section 5 – Selection and Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers in Vehicles and Small Craft

Section 6 – Selection and Location of Fire Blankets

 

Scope and General

1.1 Scope

The AS 2444-2001 Portable Fire Extinguisher and Fire Blanket Standard covers portable fire extinguisher and fire blanket products in the form of cylinders, cartridges and rods, as well as their storage and use.

1.2 General

This Standard is intended for use by manufacturers of portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets in Australia, New Zealand and other countries that adopt it. It is also intended for use by designers, developers, users, purchasers and installers of such equipment.

Selection of Portable Fire Extinguishers

The Australian Fire Extinguisher Standards (AS1850) place the emphasis on trained staff when it comes to first-response activities. The wrong extinguisher used on a fire can cause the fire risk to increase and not decrease.

Classification and rating are determined by AS1850. Not all fire extinguishers are the same, cheap knock off home fire extinguishers can present as commercial fire extinguishers. Too many times customers have tried to save a dollar only to have the Fire Authority or a Fire Certifier reject the replacements.

Selection and Location of Fire Blankets

Fire blankets are used to smother fires in a wide range of commercial and industrial settings.

Their primary function is to cover small fires in Class A and B, plus fires involving cooking oils and fats.

They can also be used to smother a person with clothing that is on fire or otherwise known as a human torch. These blankets are naturally of a larger area.

Another use for fire blankets can be as a thermal barrier against radiant heat, in a fire situation.

Location must be in an easily accessible place near the fire risk. Free from obstruction when removing the fire blanket from its protective cover.

Normally placed on an exit pathway to ensure that the trained user has the option to fight or flight the fire. A location sign must be used in commercial applications to help identify the fire blanket location quickly. 6.4.3 Requires the mounting height at 2.0m above the floor area and visually acuity when approaching the fire blanket

Location of Portable Fire Extinguisher

Fire Extinguishers shall be located in readily accessible positions, normally in a position along an exit pathway and in such a position that the user isn’t placed at risk of injury.

The maximum height of the top of a fire extinguisher is 1200mm and the minimum amount off the ground is 100mm.

Extinguishers shall have their locations clearly indicated by placement of an identification sign, located at 2000mm above floor level and directly above the fire extinguisher.

Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers in Buildings

The AS 2444-2001 standard covers the fire hazard, classification and maximum floor area for buildings.

The classification and rating of each extinguisher shall at minimum meet the level of risk that the area is covering.

In other words, do not buy fire extinguishers unless the provider is a licenced fire extinguisher company; this is to avoid any unnecessary risks and liability claims on your business premise. A fatality on your business premise means that you are 100% liable due to the wording used SHALL. Only use fire certified companies to remove the risk associated with purchasing cheaper units form hardware stores, local safety shops and online stores. The risk cannot be assessed if purchasing off site. Only an onsite provider can complete the legislated requirements in a commercial space.

The fire risk in any building is assessed by a fire certifier, who then determines the correct fire extinguishers to cover that particular risk. There is no general rule to distances with fire extinguishers as each building is different. The fire risk differs in each business and even the same type of business will require its own unique, fire extinguisher layout.

Table 4.2-4.3 Cover the Minimum rating, classification and distribution of extinguishers for class B Fire risks.

Selection and Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers in Vehicles and Small Craft

The selection of portable fire extinguishers for vehicles and small crafts is dependent on the type of vehicle, its cargo and its location. The type of fuel used in the engine will determine the type of extinguisher required.

A remote area vehicle or small craft should have an above standard requirement with a fixed hose on the extinguisher, to gain access to hard to reach fire hazards.

The correct extinguisher will not only be for the vehicle or small craft but also the cargo on-board. The fire risk can change significantly if extra types of fuel are on-board that could potentially aid the fire risk.

Refer to manufacturer’s requirements for additional loads and/or modifications to a vehicle or small craft.

Portable fire extinguishers are used to put out small fires. They are classified according to the type of fire they can put out, and include water, foam, powder (dry chemical), carbon dioxide, and vaporizing types.

Reference“Knowing Your Fire Classes & Extinguishers”

Most common in modern workplaces are ABE (automatic bicarbonate extinguishers) and CO2 fire extinguishers. A food business will also have a wet chemical fire extinguisher for fat fires.

The frequency of inspection and maintenance can vary from monthly to yearly to five-yearly depending on the type of extinguisher you use. At the five-year mark when an extinguisher is due for a pressure test the common result is to replace it with a new one because it’s cheaper than refurbishing them—each extinguisher can vary depending on the build quality of the unit, however, so many manufacturers only ensure that its cylinder quality lasts five years before melting it down into a new unit.

Fire blankets are an essential piece of firefighting equipment, and they’re very handy in a variety of situations. They can be found most commonly in residential kitchens and commercial kitchens, but they’re also recommended for caravans and boats because of their versatility.

Only a six-month test is required as an annual test doesn’t exist according to AS1851. Some fire technicians utilize an annual stamp on the maintenance tag to show that they’ve attended site.

Only a number 1 stamp should be found on a fire blanket maintenance tag

Planning for emergency evacuations is an important part of fire safety. Most facilities will have a business continuity plan, which covers the evacuation of the building in case of an emergency.

The outcome is for controlled evacuation of facilities such as buildings, structures and workplaces.

Frequency

Six-monthly and yearly are the requirements as per AS1851. Set out in tables 14.4.2 and 14.4.3. The listing of the requirements allows for an easy to follow inspection of the business procedures to keep staff and visitors safe on their premise

Reference: “What are the 3 goals of a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan?”

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