Trade body criticises extinguisher removal

5th December 2011

Residents in Richmond have been told that portable fire extinguishers have been removed from the common parts of their housing blocks for their own safety, following the findings of a fire risk assessment.
The Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association has questioned the housing association’s decision. Its chairman, Nigel Walton, said:
“IFEDA would question what available evidence demonstrates that the removal of fire extinguishers would enhance residents’ safety. Providing the correct type of fire extinguisher is in place, as determined by British Standard 5306 part 8, the likelihood of using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire is minimal.
“It would be unlikely that dry powder extinguishers would be used in communal evacuation routes, for example, a stairwell. Therefore the risk from obscured vision and breathing difficulties due to dust is minimal. Surely the sensible option would be to inform residents about the practical use of handling a fire extinguisher, rather than removing them altogether.”
A spokesperson for Richmond Housing Partnership told
“We take the safety of our residents very seriously and as such we are one of only a few housing providers to use a FRACS (Fire Risk Assessor Certification Scheme) accredited fire risk assessor to manage our fire risk assessment programme. The expert advice we have received is to remove fire extinguishers from the common areas of our general needs housing blocks. This advice has been endorsed by the London Fire Brigade.
“Fire extinguishers used incorrectly can add to the danger created by a fire and may put the person using the extinguisher at risk.”
Putting his oar in, Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn fanned the flames of the debate. In a piece headlined: Now Burn to Death in Safety, the outspoken columnist wrote: “I thought I’d heard it all. Fire extinguishers removed on elf’n’safety grounds. That really does take the biscuit.”
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