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Fire Extinguishers


In Ireland, along with legislation governing the provision of fire-fighting equipment in buildings to which the public is admitted is the Fire Services Act (1981 and 2003). In brief, this places a duty of care on every person who has control over premises to make adequate provision for the safety of everyone on their premises and to provide adequate fire-fighting equipment for extinguishing fires in the building.

The Safety, Health and Welfare Act (2005) and the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act (2007) also place a general duty of care on employers in respect of Workplace Health and Safety. The Health and Safety Authority has the power to monitor risks associated with fire in the workplace, while local fire authorities have the power to give advice, issue recommendations, and enforce compliance. There are also a number of codes of practice and guidance documents relating to fire safety provisions depending on the nature of your business, such as hotels, nursing homes, and places of assembly (night clubs and concert venues).


How many extinguishers do I need?

For all commercial premises, a full survey/risk assessment should be carried out by an expert to determine the quantity and types of extinguishers required.

How do I operate an extinguisher?

The easiest way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to think of the P.A.S.S technique.

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side
Ongoing checks and maintenance

As an owner or person in control of a premise (under the Irish Standards 291, which governs the use, siting, inspection, and maintenance of extinguishers) you are required to have portable fire extinguishers inspected annually by a competent person and more often, if required, due to environment/other factors. In addition, the standard recommends monthly user checks.

Monthly checks that should be carried out by site?

Confirm that all extinguishers are in their assigned location and have not become obstructed or hidden

  • Ensure pins and seals are intact
  • Check there is no visual evidence of damage, leakage, rust, corrosion, or misuse
  • Check that gauges, if fitted, are in the green
  • Ensure nozzles are free of blockage
Test Discharge & Refilling Requirements under IS 291

33% of all the fire extinguishers shall be discharged every year so that at the end of the third year 100% of the extinguishers will have been tested by discharge.

How many extinguishers do I need?

The siting of portable fire extinguishers is governed under Irish Standard 291 and consultation with an expert is advised. In general, it is recommended that extinguishers are placed on exit routes near the exit doors. Extinguishers provided for specific hazards should be placed near the potential hazard, but not so close that their use could become hazardous. Extinguishers should be in a fixed, permanent location, such as a stand, or wall mounted.

No person should be more than 30 meters from their nearest fire extinguisher at any location within a building.

As the operation of extinguishers is affected by temperature, they should not be exposed to storage temperatures outside the operational range marked on the extinguisher. In particular, extinguishers should not be placed over, or close to, heating appliances. Extinguishers, unless specially treated by the manufacturer or specially housed for the purpose, should not be located in places where they may be exposed to unduly corrosive atmospheres or to splashing by corrosive fluids.

Where should I place my extinguisher?

One meter to handle for large units and one and a half meters to handle for smaller units.

Am I required to display signs to identify extinguisher locations and types?

Yes. If the location of a fire extinguisher is not in direct view, then its position should be indicated by suitable signs or drawings marked with locations in accordance with the Health, Safety & Welfare at Work Act regulations.

Irish Standards 291 also makes reference to signage:

  • Fire Point Signs, which mark locations
  •  Extinguisher ID Signage (displayed above the extinguisher), which explains uses and hazards in both images and text

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