Monday, July 05, 2010

What's the point of fire extinguishers?

Following on from my post on Friday, about Nick Clegg's Your Freedom site, where we're all invited to give our suggestions about what laws we want to see repealed, I thought I'd flag up another suggestion on the site.

There are some special sorts of "pleasures" about being married to a health and safety adviser. For example, know how to tell when scaffolding is not erected properly, or when those working on it aren't wearing the proper safety equipment because it's just not possible for him to walk past a building site without having a look at what's going on.

Despite that, he's generally a practical and pragmatic and sensible kind of guy. I'm the one that tends to panic about things while he's takes a much more common sense and dispassionate approach to risk. That's a good thing, because if it were left to me, I doubt our daughter would have learnt to climb trees as well as she can.

Anyway, his sugggestion surprised me, given that he automatically checks every fire extinguisher he comes across in whatever environment to check whether it's in date. He thinks that the requirements regarding fire extinguishers in low risk environments such as offices should be relaxed. Fires in offices are extremely rare, especially during the day when people are in. I don't think I've ever heard of one. Certainly if it happened where I was working, I think I'd just get out rather than hang around trying to put it out.

As Bob says, the most common use of fire extinguishers I've ever seen is as rather expensive door stops. It may well be that most places of work would choose to have one anyway, but is it necessary for this to be a legal requirement?


Anonymous said...

Your partner is right, The advice we get generally is to get out and call the brigade. 'Only use a fire extinguisher if you have been trained and lives are in danger'

There are a lot of goldplated H+S rules that could be simplified. But it will be a brave govt that takes on the Safety 'industry', Imagine the should waving in the media.


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that the most obvious cause of a fire in an office environment would have been the still smouldering cigarette end carelessly chucked in the waste bin.

Given the ban on smoking in public places it seems to me that an already low risk will have reduced even further.

I used to work in a large open plan officen environment. If a smoke alarm went off the fire brigade responded automatically.

If businesses were able to concentrate on dealing with any high safety risks applicable to the type of business instead of having to waste time and money on low risk matters then health and safety personnel might receive more respect....

tris said...

It's also a very expensive item for a tiny company with no budgets for that sort of thing. Considering it is almost useless unless all the staff have been trained to use it (or rather them, because you need to have several different types), it would be a sensible move for the new government to scrap the obligation to have them.


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