Portable fire extinguishers play a critical role in preventing and controlling small fires before they escalate into major conflagrations. In Australia, their use and maintenance are regulated by the Australian Standards (AS), particularly AS 2444-2001, which outlines the selection and location of portable fire extinguishers in buildings.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) stipulates that certain types of buildings, particularly commercial and multi-residential buildings, are required to have portable fire extinguishers as part of their fire safety measures. Moreover, fire extinguishers are an essential component of the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS), a certification that is renewed annually to ensure that fire safety measures meet the appropriate standards.
There are different types of portable fire extinguishers designed for specific types of fires, and they must be chosen according to the potential fire risks in a particular setting. These types include water, foam, dry chemical, wet chemical, and carbon dioxide extinguishers.
According to AS 1851-2012, the routine service of fire extinguishers in Australia should occur every six months, or more frequently if the environment is corrosive. The AS 1851-2012 standard provides comprehensive guidelines about the maintenance and ongoing inspection of portable fire extinguishers.
Compliance with these standards is not just a legal requirement but a necessity for safety. The consequences of non-compliance can result in heavy fines, increased risk to life and property, invalidation of insurance policies, and potential prosecution in the event of injury or death.
The Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) ensures all installed fire safety measures, including portable fire extinguishers, are maintained and in a proper operational condition. Building owners are required to submit the AFSS to their local council and the Fire and Rescue NSW every year.