Which type of extinguisher do I require?
Water – The Water extinguisher is still one of the most useful and cost-effective ways to put out free-burning materials such as paper, wood and fabrics.
Foam – Spray foam extinguishers provide a fast, powerful means of tackling flammable liquids. The foam forms a seal over the surface to prevent re-ignition. Ideal for multi-risk usage and safe to use in close proximity to electrical equipment.
Dry Powder – Dry Powder is a highly versatile medium for tackling most types of fires. Extremely effective on electrical hazards, flammable liquids and gases, which makes this ideal for vehicle fires.
Carbon Dioxide - For electrical fires or flammable liquids CO2 is ideal. Harmless to electrical equipment and so is ideal for offices and workshops. Both these extinguishers have non-conductive, anti-static horns.
Specialist Powder – These extinguishers are highly effective against metal fires such as sodium, magnesium and aluminium when in the form of powder. Their unique lance applicator is designed to allow the powder to fall gently over the fire to prevent burning material from spreading.
What is the difference between ionisation and optical smoke alarms?
Optical is a newer technology which is less prone to false alarms caused by cooking fumes, cigarette smoke, dust etc.
Which type of domestic fire alarm do I need?
Depends on location, in general for a
• kitchen: heat alarm
• corridors, hallways and landings: optical smoke alarm
Optical Smoke Alarms
Optical sensors are more responsive to smouldering fires producing large particle smoke typical of fires involving furniture and bedding.
They are more immune to invisible smoke produced by 'burning the toast' and similar cooking fumes. This makes them ideal for siting in hallways close to kitchens where false alarms from ionisation alarms may be a particular problem. The BS 5839: Pt.6: 2004 Standard recommends the use of optical alarms in circulation spaces of a dwelling, such as hallways and landings. Optical alarms are prone to false alarm if exposed to steam and should not be located too close to poorly ventilated bathrooms or shower rooms.
Ionisation Smoke Alarms
Ionisation type sensors are particularly sensitive to the almost invisible smoke produced by fast flaming fires. This makes them more liable to false alarm due to cooking fumes if sited in a hallway close to a kitchen. Ionisation alarms are less vulnerable to false alarms caused by dense tobacco smoke, excessive dust and insect ingress.
The BS 5839: Pt.6: 2004 Standard recommends that ionisation alarms should not be used in hallways and landings, where there is a risk of false alarms caused by cooking fumes.
Heat alarms are less likely to cause false alarm problems as they are not responsive to any type of smoke or fumes, only heat.
Because of the potential for a slower response than smoke alarms, they should only be used in a fire alarm system that also includes smoke alarms, and all of the alarms must be interconnected.
BS 5839: Pt.6: 2004 recommends that heat alarms should be used in kitchens. It goes on to suggest that they may also have a role to play in the main living room but they should not be installed in circulation spaces or areas where fast response to fire is required.