27/05/2003

Fire extinguishers work overtime in the office

A survey of more than 2,000 businesses in the UK has revealed that the humble fire extinguisher is now responsible for extinguishing more fires than the Fire Brigade.

This comes at a time when the cost of the fire service is under scrutiny following the publishing of the Bain report. Results from the survey estimate that fire extinguishers save more than £5 million each year in terms of fire service resources.

Research published by leading fire specialist Chubb Fire shows that, the fire extinguisher prevents an estimated 24 fire related deaths and 1,692 fire-related injuries each year, saving industry and commerce in excess of £700 million a year in claims.

The statistics reveal the true extent of the role fire extinguishers play in the workplace. Of those fires tackled with a fire extinguisher, 75.3% are put out without the Fire Brigade having to be called.

John Spencer, MD of Chubb Fire, commented: "These survey results highlight just how important the humble fire extinguisher is in work places up and down the country. The true value of fire extinguishers as life savers must not be underestimated, the real effectiveness is likely to be even greater than the statistics suggest, as the vast majority of fires put out by fire extinguishers simply go unreported."

Losses through fire are currently estimated to cost the economy £7 billion, and the insurance industry £700 million a year, but these official statistics only take into account those fires reported to the fire service.

John Spencer added: "With one in four companies who suffer a major fire going out of business as a direct result, this survey highlights not just how effective portable fire extinguishers are in controlling fires in the workplace, but also just how much more effective they could be, if businesses are prepared to properly train staff and have their equipment serviced. For most businesses the first line of defence is action taken by staff once a fire breaks out. If businesses fail to provide adequate fire extinguishers, the odds would be stacked against them and it may end up costing them their business, or worse, their lives!"

(CL)

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