FAQ's and Really Useful Information

There are a lot of laws and legislations that can be quite confusing and sometimes overwhelming. Hopefully Trent Safety Services can simplify your requirements in our FAQ and useful information page. If you still have an additional question, please get in touch, we love to help. 

Fire Extinguishers

How Many Fire Extinguishers do I need?

This all depends on the size of your premises and the associated risks. You are required to have a minimum of 2 class A appliances per floor. Trent Safety Services offer a free site survey and design service in accordance with BS5306 Part 8

What Does the Rating Mean on a Fire Extinguisher?

Each Fire Extinguisher carries a rating which must be clearly marked on the appliance. The rating signifies not only the type of fire it can be used on, but also the size of the fire the appliance can tackle. We use this figure to determine how many appliances are needed for an area. For example a 6 litre water extinguisher carries a rating of 13A. This will cover a 200 square metre area for a class A risk.

What are the Classifications of Fire?

  • Class A Fires involve a solid fuel source such as Wood, Card, Paper or Textiles
  • Class B Fires involve a flammable liquid such as petrol, alcohol, or paints
  • Class C Fires involve a flammable gas such as Butane, Propane or Methane
  • Class D Fires involve a flammable metal such as Aluminium, Lithium or Zinc
  • Class F Fire involve a cooking oil such as Lard, Sunflower or Rapeseed

Please note that although electrical fires do not hold a classification, as they are considered an ignition source and not a fuel, they still require a provision where there is a risk. We recommend a CO2 Fire Extinguisher for this.

What are the Colour Codes to Identify a Fire Extinguisher Type?

  • Red - Water (Class A Fires)
  • Cream - Foam (Class A and B Fires)
  • Black - CO2 (Class B Fires and Electrical Risks)
  • Blue - Powder (Class ABC, BC or a Metal fire, depending on type, and electrical risks)
  • Yellow - Wet Chemical (Class A and F Fires)

Can I use a Water Based Fire Extinguisher on an Electrical Risk?

No. This can be highly dangerous. Even fire extinguishers like for example Foam appliances that state they have passed the 35 KV Test can cause short circuit or an electric shock.

Can I Buy a Fire Extinguisher Online?

Yes you can buy a portable fire extinguisher online, but you must have the extinguisher commissioned onsite by a qualified technician. This involves a basic service. We recommend this especially when the appliance has travelled through a courier network.

How Often should a Fire Extinguisher be Serviced?

Fire Extinguishers must be serviced every 12 months in line with BS5306 and the manufacturers instructions

What is Involved in the Fire Extinguisher Service

Extinguisher servicing does differ from each appliance. In general we will perform a visual inspection, weigh the appliance, test any gauges and replace the o ring on all hoses and horns

How Long Does a Fire Extinguisher Last?

Fire Extinguishers can last for many years, however there are key service intervals we need to be aware of and replace units where necessary. A CO2 appliance must be hydraulically pressure tested every 10 years. We remove the extinguisher out of service and replace this with a service exchange unit. Extinguishers containing, water based, powder and chemical agents must have an extended service performed every 5 years. Due to changes in legislation, we now perform this offsite and provide you with a brand new unit as a service exchange.

How do I Dispose of a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire Extinguishers can not be thrown away and must be disposed of in an appropriate way. Trent Safety Services offer an Eco Disposal. The appliances are removed for recycling and handed to our service partner who hold appropriate waste carrier licences and an ISO accreditation

Can a Fire Extinguisher be placed on the floor?

In short, no they can not. Fire Extinguishers must be placed on a British Standard, wall mounted bracket, or a Fire Extinguisher stand

What are my Responsibilities

As a responsible person, you are required to keep accurate records of Fire Extinguisher servicing, usage and training. You are also required to perform visual inspections at regular intervals. We recommend performing this on a monthly basis. One of our technicians would be happy to demonstrate during your next service.

How do I use a Fire Extinguisher?

Anyone at work that may encounter a situation where they may use a portable fire extinguisher must have adequate training. You may select designated employees for this. Trent Safety Services can provide this in a classroom environment with live demonstrations. In the meantime, should you encounter a fire, please use the following guidance

  • DIAL 999. You or a colleague should alert the Fire Brigade at the earliest opportunity
  • PULL the pin whilst standing at a safe distance
  • AIM the hose or nozzle at the base of the fire
  • SQUEEZE the handles together to activate the extinguisher
  • SWEEP from side to side until the fire is fully extinguished

Do not try to tackle a fire that is losing control or is to large. When using a CO2 appliance, do not hold the horn on operation as this can cause burns if the horn is not frost free.


Portable Appliance (PAT) Testing

What is PAT Testing?

PAT stands for Portable Appliance testing, which is the phrase used to describe the inspection and testing of electrical equipment. It will involve a thorough visual inspection, and a test involving specialist test equipment. It will involve testing portable items connected to a three pin plug, and those portable items fixed to the wall. It excludes the fixed hard wiring of the property. This is a separate test which is referred to an Electrical Installation Condition Report

Is it the Law to have PAT Testing Carried out?

No its is not the Law to have PAT testing carried out. The electricity at work regulations require you to make sure that electrical equipment is maintained in a safe condition. Although this regulation does not specify how and when this should be done, the easiest way to achieve this is to have PAT testing carried out and fulfils your obligations

How often should I have PAT testing carried out?

Although there is no specific regulation on the frequency of test periods, the IET code of practice has specific recommendations. The frequency will depend on the environment, usage, and location. Please contact Trent Safety Services for guidance

How long does PAT testing take?

This will all depend on the number of items you have but on average we expect to test between 25-30 appliances per hour

What Standards do you Test to?

Although there is no British Standard specific to PAT testing, we test using the IET code of practice. Our engineers and trained and qualified to City and Guilds level, using the IET code of practice

Do I need to Test Brand New Equipment?

The HSE recommends that new equipment should just receive a basic visual inspection as it should arrive in good working order. However if you consider that most manufacturers batch test their items, and we consider the transit of a new item, we would recommend testing all new equipment at your next inspection

Do I need to keep records of tests carried out?

There is no specific law requiring you to keep records, however considering the Electricity at Work regulations require you to maintain electrical equipment, it would make good practice to keep accurate records of inspections, and a great way to keep an asset register

How Do I Perform a Visual Inspection?

It is recommend you carry our a regular visual inspection yourself. The frequency of this depends on the environment and usage. You must check the following

  • Inspect the plug for signs of damage, you may also check the fuse
  • Inspect the wiring for fraying, cuts or melting
  • Inspect the appliance for cracks, dents and signs of danger
  • Remember, if you can get a finger in, its a fail

Do you Test "Fixed Wired" Appliances?

Yes, fixed to the wall appliances or built in, for example a hand dryer, or a cooker are still portable appliances and require inspection and testing

I am a Landlord, Do I require PAT testing carried out?

Similar to work regulations, there is no specific law that requires to you have PAT testing carried out, but does require you to make sure electrical equipment you have supplied is safe and maintained. PAT testing would be the easiest recorded way of fulfilling this. The housing act 2004 states that landlords should review conditions regularly to try and see where and how their properties can be made safer

Can PAT Testing cause damage to IT and sensitive Equipment?

 If not carried out correctly then yes. You must use a competent person to carry out the inspection who should identify the equipment and select a different means of testing on their test equipment
Do Appliances Need to be turned Off? 

For a full test using calibrated test equipment, you would need to turn off the equipment and remove the plug from the wall. Where a piece of equipment can not be turned off, Trent Safety Services will perform a formal visual inspection

What happens if an Item Fails?

If Trent Safety Services fail an item, we will remove it from service and notify the responsible person. We will apply a red fail sticker but we will not damage, cut wires, or remove plugs to prevent further usage

Why is your technician removing plug tops?

Following the IET code of practice, where possible, we will inspect the inside of a plug. We  look for loose or poor terminal connections, frayed wires, faulty, incorrect sized or counterfeit fuses and general damage

What size fuse is needed for an appliances?

There are 2 main general fuse sizes, 3 amp which is used for appliances under 700 watts in power and 13 amp for appliances over 700 watts in power. Some equipment use a larger amount of power when first started up, for example IT equipment, so these may come fitted with a 5 amp fuse

Do you Maintain your Test Equipment?

Absolutely we do. Our test equipment is maintained on a regular basis and is sent for calibration once per year


How to Wire a Plug

Wiring a plug is a simple task that anyone can carry out. If you are replacing a damaged plug, you will need only a screwdriver, if you are using a new cable, you will also need wire cutters/strippers. Follow the link below to access our online tutorial.

Safety Signage

Do I Need Safety Signage

Yes, Fire safety signage is a requirement by Law under the regulatory reform (Fire Safety) order. All employees and visitors must have adequate signs to direct people to exits and fire safety equipment. Safety Signage is covered by the regulations implement European Council Directive 92/58/EEC on minimum requirements for the provision of safety signs at work. They require employers to provide safety signs where other methods, properly considered, cannot deal satisfactorily with certain risks and where the use of a sign can further reduce that risk

What do the Colours Relate to?

  • RED - Prohibition, Stop!
  • BLUE - Mandatory
  • YELLOW - Warning, Hazard
  • GREEN - Safe Condition, Escape Route or First Aid

What Types of Signage Should I have

  • UK Health and safety at work poster
  • Emergency Exit Signage
  • Fire Notices
  • Fire Equipment Signage
  • First Aid Signage
  • Signage to cover any risks or hazards
  • No Smoking
  • Directive signs, for example PPE must be worn, or fire door must be kept closed


Fire Risk Assessments

Do I need to have a Fire Risk Assessment?

Yes, it is the law to have a fire risk assessment if you are responsible for a building and the people within it. Please see further details in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order). The order excludes residential properties with one single family dwelling.

Can I complete my Own Fire Risk Assessment?

You can if you are deemed competent to complete a suitable sufficient report then yes. Templates can be downloaded from your local fire authority. You can find your local authority by clicking here

What will my Fire Risk Assessment Look Like?

The report is usually around 50 pages and includes photographs of specific points which easy to read, follow and action. It is broken down so that the report is easily digestible. You will learn about your hazards, the people at risk, escape routes/plans and if you have sufficient equipment to notify or deal with a fire situation.

How Long do I get to Action Points Raised in the Fire Risk Assessment?

Each action is given a priority rating from low to high. It is advisable to correct high priority actions as soon as possible. Remember that regulations are important and all action points should be followed up

How often Should My Fire Risk Assessment be Reviewed?

How Long do I Keep My Fire Risk Assessment?

You should always keep your Fire Risk Assessment. It is an important document. It should be reviewed on a regular basis. Any major restructures or changes to staff, it is advisable to complete a new Assessment

Where Do I Keep My Fire Risk Assessment?

We will provide electronic and hard copies of your assessment. This should be backed up away from site, or a hard copy kept in a fire proof site. You will need to produce your report in the event of a fire situation

What Happens if I do not Follow the Regulations

The consequences can severe. Local fire authorities have jurisdiction to audit your premises. They can impose fines and serious failures can lead to a custodial sentence