Fire emergency equipment
Smoke alarms are essential for every home. However, you may feel that you need extra fire safety equipment, if you live in a remote place or have high-risk appliances or equipment in your home.
Using fire emergency equipment
When a fire occurs, it is important to get out, stay out and call 999. Emergency equipment can be helpful, but it is important to know how and when to use it. Unless it is safe to do so, you shouldn’t attempt to tackle fires yourself.
There are four main types of fire extinguisher:
- CO2, for electrical fires
No single type of extinguisher is totally effective on all fires. Before buying one, look carefully at the types of fire it can be used on. Multi-purpose dry powder extinguishers or Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) extinguishers are usually the best choices for home use. They are effective on many types of fire.
Tips for safely using any fire extinguisher:
- read the instructions
- buy one you can carry easily
- it is best placed in the hall and taken where needed
- don’t put it near a heater or fire, but fix it to the wall, so that it is out of children's reach, but easily accessible by others
- get it serviced once a year (or as often as the manufacturer recommends)
- when using the extinguisher on a fire, keep yourself on the escape route side of the blaze
These are fire-resistant sheets of material you can use to cover a fire to cut its supply of oxygen. You can also wrap around a person whose clothes are on fire.
Fire blankets are quick to use, easy to maintain and cheaper than fire extinguishers. However, to use them, you need to get close to the fire – meaning your hands will be at risk of burning. You can also only use on small and contained fires - like chip pan fires on the cooker. In addition, it is likely that you will only get one go at putting out the fire. If you don’t put it out, you won’t be able to retrieve the blanket.
They're ideal to keep in the kitchen, but they are not good for general use. If you get one, you should make sure it conforms to British Standard BS 6575 and bear these points in mind:
- it should be easy to find in an emergency
- never put it away in a cupboard
- it shouldn't be mounted above a cooker or heater
- a fire blanket is most useful in the kitchen
If you want to reduce the risk of death in a fire as much as possible, you could consider fitting sprinklers in your home. They provide a high level of protection from the risk of dying in a fire. They are particularly suitable for older people and for those with mobility difficulties or have some other disability. In parts of the USA where sprinklers have become compulsory, almost no one dies from fire at home.
If you’re considering getting a sprinkler system fitted, there are some points to remember::
- sprinklers are fitted in as many rooms as you want them to be - pipes are small and run off mains water
- they are individually heat-activated, so the whole system doesn't go off at once
- they rarely get set off accidentally as they need high temperatures to trigger them
- they operate automatically, whether you're at home or not
- if you have a sprinkler system, you should also have a smoke alarm, as this will alert you to slow-burning, smoke-generating fires which may not generate enough heat to trigger the sprinkler
- sprinklers also sound an alarm when they go off, so they alert you as well as tackling the fire