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How Many Fire Extinguishers Do I Need in My Business

How many fire extinguishers do i need

Your Questions Answered: How Many Fire Extinguishers Do I Need in My Business?

‘How many fire extinguishers do I need?’ is one of the most common questions we’re asked at 1st Class Fire Protection. Because while most business owners know that they are legally obliged to have fire extinguishers on their premises, the details can be a little hazy.

Of the five different fire extinguisher types, which ones do you need within your business? How many of each one should you have in place? And where should you put them? The problem is that every business is different, so there can be no hard and fast rules to follow.

But the good news is that your fire risk assessment should be able to help you identify your fire extinguisher needs. And this article should be able to help you with anything else that’s not quite clear.


Fire Extinguisher Ratings


Fire extinguishers and their ratings explained

Although there are five different types of fire extinguishers – powder, foam, CO², water, and wet chemical – and six different classes of fire, for simplicity, in this post we’re going to focus on Class A fire types. Those ignited on solids, such as wood, paper, and plastic. Because these are the most commonly ignited fires and the most commonly required fire extinguishers.

Powder (blue label), foam (cream label), and water (red label) fire extinguishers are all suitable for use on Class A fires. With powder fire extinguishers being the most broadly used by all business types.

Each type of fire extinguisher is rated on its ability to extinguish fires. This is done through a series of tests. With Class A fires, this involves igniting a fire on a traditional wooden cot of a specific size. Each relevant fire extinguisher is tested to see how much of the cot fire it can snuff. The ratings are then listed on the side of each extinguisher. So, the standard 9 litre water fire extinguisher, for example, is rated 13A. Indicating that in the testing environment, it was able to extinguish 1.3m of the cot fire.

British Standard 5306 simplifies this with the guidance that a 13A rated fire extinguisher typically covers around 200 square metres of floor.


How many extinguishers do I need


How many fire extinguishers do I need for my business?

So far, so confusing?

While it’s useful to know how fire extinguishers are rated, it doesn’t fully clarify how many your business needs. So, let’s break it down. But before we begin, it is really important to reiterate that the following information merely provides a loose guide. And only a professional fire risk assessment will be able to tell you the exact fire extinguisher needs for your business.

Right, so on we go!

Unless your premises is very small, with a floor area of below 100m2, it’s a good idea to follow the rule that you need at least two Class A fire type extinguishers per floor. More in large buildings.

Use our handy quick Class A fire extinguisher calculator to work out approximately how many basic fire extinguishers you need for your business. Simply enter in your approximate floor space and the calculator will give you a basic estimate on how many extinguishers you should have.


Class A Fire Extinguisher Calculator



What other factors influence the number of fire extinguishers required on business premises?

Again, this is something that will be revealed by your risk assessment. But there are several other factors to consider when deciding upon the number of fire extinguishers your business needs.

  • If you have automatic sprinklers fitted, you may not need as many Class A fire-type extinguishers as our estimated calculator suggests.
  • If you prefer to use smaller and lighter fire extinguishers, you will need to increase the number of extinguishers accordingly. Likewise, if your building lacks the infrastructure to support heavier extinguishers in certain places.
  • It is also highly likely that you will need to add in other, specialist fire extinguishers.Your server room may require a CO² extinguisher for electrical fires. If you have a kitchen, you will probably need a wet chemical extinguisher to combat fires ignited on cooking fats. And if you use any flammable chemicals within your building, you will need foam extinguishers specifically to ensure that any areas where they are used remain protected.

So, what else do you need to know?


Where should fire extinguishers be placed


Where should your fire extinguishers be situated?

Fire extinguishers are usually wall-mounted near exits or other areas within an escape route. They should be easy to access without causing an obstruction, and without being positioned so they risk being obstructed. It is standard practice to position fire extinguishers just below fire alarm activation points, to allow all required actions to be taken as swiftly as possible.

As a general rule, fire extinguishers should be placed no more than 60 metres apart. This means that in the event of a fire, building occupants are never far from an appropriate fire extinguisher.


Do fire extinguishers need maintaining


Fire extinguisher signage

To ensure ease of use, it is also important that you have the correct signage in place, relating to each of your fire extinguishers. This signage will help building occupants to identify the correct fire extinguisher for each fire type. And how to discharge them safely. This is particularly important for CO² fire extinguishers, where misuse can be particularly dangerous.


Do fire extinguishers need to be maintained?

Yes. All fire extinguishers require regular maintenance to ensure that they remain fit for purpose. This includes:

  • Monthly visual inspections– conducted in-house by a fire marshal or trained manager
  • Basic annual service– every 12 months, you are required to have your fire extinguishers professionally serviced
  • Extended service– The frequency of your extended service depends upon the types of fire extinguisher you have on your premises. It will typically be either every five or 10 years.


No two businesses are exactly the same. That’s why it’s important to conduct – and regularly maintain – a fire risk assessment for your business. It is the best possible resource for understanding not only how many fire extinguishers your business needs. But for providing your business, and the people within it, with the best possible protection.

1st Class Fire Protection is an industry-leading fire protection company, serving customers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire. If you are looking for fire extinguisher advice then get in touch today. Our friendly team is always happy to help you to give your business the fire protection it needs.

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