How many fire extinguishers do I need?

How many fire extinguishers do I need, is a question we get asked all the time?

The answer is not that simple, you will need to carry out a risk assessment to determine the type and number of fire extinguishers you need. Firstly you have to take account of the size of your building, the fire load, flammable contents and so on. IS 291 is the Irish standard that determines the amount, type & location of fire extinguishers that you will need to install, (this IS:291 215 standard is updated every few years so your engineer will need to have a relevant copy) this standard tells us that we should have a minimum of two Class A fire extinguishers (Class A fires include flammable solids such as wood, paper, textiles) on each level to cover floors up to 400 m² with a minimum combined fire rating of 26 A.  The fire rating on each extinguisher is clearly displayed on the front a typical 6 L foam is rated at 13 A (this is just a test rating used in a simulated fire).

For any storey with a floor area of exceeding 400 m² the A-rated extinguishers should have a combined minimum fire rating of 0.065 by the floor area of the storey or to keep it simple for every additional 200 m² you require an extra 13 a fire extinguisher, you must have at least two Class A extinguishers on each floor to allow you to turn away from a fire if you have to retrieve a fire extinguisher.

In addition to your Class A fire extinguishers, you may also need supplementary fire extinguishers such as Carbon Dioxide to tackle electrical fires for example. Again it will be based on your risk assessment.

The number of extinguishers that you require might exceed the above calculation of floor area in metres squared X .065, if the fire load is high, the building is complicated or if you have multiple occupancies that closed their doors at different times. It is essential that you use the services of a competent person to calculate the fire extinguishers rating for your building to get an accurate amount of fire extinguishers. This risk assessment should answer the question of how many fire extinguishers do I need?