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Fire Extinguishers for Lodges and Holiday Homes

What is the best multi-purpose fire extinguisher for use within lodges and holiday accommodations? Classically, going back several years, the answer was always small 1 and 2kg powder extinguishers. However, the holiday industry has moved away from powder type extinguishers over the last years following an update to one of the key British Standards: BS 5306-8:2012, which gives guidance on best practice when selecting and positioning portable fire extinguishers.

This update, published in October of 2012, made it clear that powder extinguishers are no longer suitable for use within buildings. The specific section (5.4.3) of the standard reads as follows:

Use of powder extinguishers

Use of powder extinguishers The discharge of a powder extinguisher within buildings can cause a sudden reduction of visibility and can also impair breathing, which could temporarily jeopardize escape, rescue or other emergency action. For this reason, powder extinguishers should generally not be specified for use indoors, unless mitigated by a health and safety risk assessment.

This of course left the holiday industry with a problem – what was the best small, all-round extinguisher to be used by holiday makers who had no training in the use of extinguishers now that powders had been removed as an option? Enter the water mist extinguisher. At the time this change to BS 5306-8:2012 was being phased in, water mist extinguishers were just beginning to take hold within the industry and were perfectly placed to take on the mantle of the go-to general purpose fire extinguisher.

So, how do powder and water mist extinguishers compare with each other? The table below compares some of the key features of each extinguisher:

  Water Mist Extinguisher Powder Extinguisher
Suitable for use on Class A, B, C and F plus electrical equipment (up to 1000 Volt) Class A, B, and C plus electrical equipment
Residue UltraFire water mists are residue-free as they contain only de-ionised water. An accidentally discharged extinguisher causes very little harm. Chemical powder, eats into soft furnishings and corrodes metals. It is very difficult to clean up after a powder extinguisher has been discharged.
Impact from misuse by guests Can be sprayed on animals and people without harm and causes minimal clean-up after use. Can harm people and animals and will cause expensive clean-up costs.
Impact on electrics Electric equipment can usually be re-used after being sprayed with water mist. Electrical items need replacing after powder is sprayed on them.
Ease-of-use The extinguisher produces a plume of water mist which protects the user from some of the heat and acrid smoke of fire. It is very simple to aim and direct at a fire. Short, powerful bursts of the powder work well but the cloud of powder can cause breathing problems and can lead to disorientation due to the loss of sight.
Sustainability 100% Recyclable, easily serviced and refilled. 1 and 2kg powder extinguishers do not get refilled or recycled and are difficult to service.

It quickly becomes clear that the benefits offered by powder extinguishers are also offered by water mist type extinguishers. Indeed, water mist extinguishers actually offer a few additional benefits, such as the ability to tackle deep fat (class F) fires without the use of chemicals, and the fact that they are so easy to maintain and refill, as they are simply charged with de-ionised water and nitrogen.

Therefore, when asked what the best general purpose fire extinguisher for holiday accommodation is these days, the answer is water mist fire extinguishers.

Please see here some case studies:

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Reviewed: 13/12/2018 (doc:486 V1.0). Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. Please note that we provide abridged, easy-to-understand guidance. To make detailed decisions about your fire safety provisions, you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.