In this post we look at the use of dry powder fire extinguishers indoors. Dry powder fire extinguishers are very versatile. They can be used on Class A, B and C fires and also on fires involving electricity. If this is the case why not just use this one type of fire extinguisher in the workplace? It will mean only one type of extinguisher is required and therefore save money. Additionally it would avoid confusion on which extinguisher to use on a particular type of fire. At first glance dry powder fire extinguishers seem like a one stop solution however is this truly the case? In this post we explores some of the pros and cons and then look at what the British Standards have to say.
BS5306 Part 8 2012 acknowledges the problems associated with the use of dry powder extinguishers in buildings. It states that they should not generally be specified for use indoors unless a health and safety risk assessment deems this appropriate. As an example it would be unlikely that you could justify the use of powder extinguishers in an office. Water and CO2 extinguishers would likely cover the fire risks present without any of the negative aspects of power extinguishers.
As can be seen, for most work places dry powder extinguishers are unlikely to be good choice for use indoors. If used indoors they would create a large amount of mess and may even pose a safety hazard. Exceptions to this would be places where their use could be justified by a risk assessment. Some common examples would be workshops and garages where fire risks include running fuel fires or flammable gasses.