As as business owner, is there a legal requirement on me to have fire extinguishers on my premises?

In Ireland, the primary legislation governing the provision of fire-fighting equipment in buildings to which the public are admitted is the Fire Services Act (1981 and 2003). In brief, this places a duty of care on every person who has control over a 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 provision depending on the nature of your business, such as hotels, nursing homes and places of assembly (night clubs and concert venues).

Full details of can be found at: http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/FireandEmergencyServices/

 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.

 Where should I place my extinguisher?

The siting of portable fire extinguishers is governed under Irish Standard 291:2002 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 metres 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 an unduly corrosive atmospheres or to splashing by corrosive fluids.

What are the suggested mounting heights?

 One metre to handle for large units and one and a half metres to handle for smaller units.

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

If the location of a fire extinguisher is not in direct view, then its position should be indicated by suitable signs in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (1995) regulations.

Irish Standards 291:2002 also makes reference to signage:

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