Choosing the right fire extinguisher is crucial for ensuring safety in residential and commercial spaces. In a bustling metropolis like Singapore where high-rise buildings are the norm, having the right type of fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a minor incident and a catastrophic event.
Singapore’s regulations ensure that all fire extinguishers must comply with the Singapore Standard (SS EN 3-7), which specifies that fire extinguishers must be safe and effective to use. It is also required for extinguishers to be regularly checked and maintained to ensure they are in good working order.
This blog article serves as a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the essential points to consider, to help you make the most suitable choice for your specific space and needs.
Types Of Fire Extinguishers In Singapore
In Singapore, as in many other countries, the types of fire extinguishers available are categorised by the classes of fires they are designed to extinguish. Here, fire extinguishers are typically designed to address the specifics of urban living, where residential and commercial spaces are often in close proximity, and the potential for different kinds of fires is real.
Class A Extinguishers
Designed for fires involving ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, or cloth. Typically, they use water or foam as the extinguishing agent. Water Extinguishers are the most common type for Class A fires involving combustible materials like wood, paper, and textiles. Water extinguishers are typically found in office environments and can be identified by their all-red label. They work by cooling the burning materials below the ignition point.
Class B Extinguishers
Suitable for fires caused by flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, or paint. They commonly use dry chemicals or foam. Foam Extinguishers are suitable for Class A and B fires, which include flammable liquids like petrol, paints, and spirits, foam extinguishers are versatile. They extinguish the fire by forming a barrier between the fuel and the air, effectively suffocating the fire and preventing re-ignition. These are often found in warehouses, workshops, and garages.
Class D Extinguishers
For fires involving combustible metals like magnesium or titanium. They deploy a dry powder extinguishing agent. Also known as ABC extinguishers, Dry Powder Extinguishers can handle Class A, B, and C fires, making them ideal for a range of environments including kitchens, laboratories, and vehicles. They extinguish fire by interrupting the chemical reaction at the fire’s surface. However, they do not cool the fire, so it can reignite.
Class K Extinguishers
Specifically designed for kitchen fires involving cooking oils or fats. They typically employ a wet chemical agent. Wet Chemical Extinguishers are especially designed for Class K fires, which involve cooking oils and fats, these extinguishers are a must-have in commercial kitchens. They work by creating a soap-like solution that seals the surface of the burning oil or fat, effectively cooling and extinguishing the fire.
In addition to the standard types, there is a move towards more environmentally friendly fire extinguishers, which use clean agents that do not leave a residue and are non-toxic, such as FE-36 (a Halon replacement) and water mist extinguishers. These are becoming more prevalent in spaces with sensitive electronic equipment and where cleanliness is paramount, like hospitals and IT centres. However, it is not yet readily available from leading suppliers in Singapore.
The Singapore Fire Safety Act
As per the Fire Safety Act and Building Regulations in Singapore, every commercial building should have fire extinguishers in the premises. The regulations also specify the type and number of fire extinguishers required for different types of buildings. These are public policies that establish a certain conduct for people living and working in the area in case there is a fire, and what to do to prevent such an event from happening.
The Act mandates several requirements for developers and building owners, including installing fire safety features such as fire alarms, sprinklers, and emergency exits. It also stipulates guidelines for safe building design to help prevent fires from spreading. These include using fire-resistant materials and incorporating compartmentalisation principles in the building design to contain potential fires within a specific area.
The Fire Safety Act and the Building Control Regulations primarily govern fire safety in Singapore. The, enforced by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), lays out regulations and standards applicable to all types of buildings in Singapore, including residential condos.
Meanwhile, the Building Control Regulations enforce the structural requirements for buildings. In addition, these regulations mandate using specific construction materials and techniques to ensure the building’s fire resistance.
What To Consider When Choosing A Fire Extinguisher In Singapore
1. Understand the Classes of Fires
Singapore recognizes several classes of fires, and each type of fire extinguisher is designed to tackle specific classes. Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustibles like wood and paper; Class B for flammable liquids; Class C for electrical fires; and Class D for flammable metals. Additionally, Class K extinguishers are for kitchen fires involving cooking oils and fats. Knowing the classes of fires that are most likely to occur in your environment is the first step in choosing the right extinguisher.
2. Size and Weight Matters
Fire extinguishers come in various sizes, and their weight is an important factor to consider. Larger units might have more firefighting power, but they can be difficult to handle, especially for those with limited physical strength. In Singapore’s compact spaces, a smaller, more manageable extinguisher might be preferable. Ensure that the size you choose is one that you can comfortably use in an emergency.
3. Maintenance and Inspection Requirements
In Singapore, fire safety regulations require regular maintenance and inspection of fire extinguishers. Before purchasing, it’s important to understand the maintenance schedule and who is authorised to perform the service. Some extinguishers are single-use and cannot be recharged, while others are refillable but require professional servicing. Opt for a fire extinguisher with clear and manageable maintenance requirements.
4. Certification and Standards
Always choose fire extinguishers that are certified and meet the Singapore Standard (SS) EN 3-8 for portable fire extinguishers. This certification ensures that the extinguisher has been tested for reliability and effectiveness in extinguishing fires. Certified products often come with a warranty and guarantee of quality, giving you peace of mind.
5. Accessibility and Storage
Consider where the fire extinguisher will be placed. It should be easily accessible in an emergency, not locked away or obstructed. In Singapore’s humid climate, it’s also important to store the extinguisher in a cool, dry place to prevent deterioration. Wall-mounted brackets or cabinets designed for fire extinguishers can keep them readily accessible and in good condition.
6. Training and Ease of Use
Lastly, having a fire extinguisher is only as good as your ability to use it. Choose a model that comes with clear instructions, and if possible, seek training on its use. In Singapore, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and other organisations offer fire safety training. Knowing how to use your fire extinguisher effectively can make all the difference in an emergency.
Hart Engineering: Fire Safety Solutions In Singapore
Hart Engineering is one of the leading providers of fire safety products, services, and systems in Singapore. We prioritise the quality and reliability of our products and provide professional guidance on selecting the type fire extinguisher most suitable for your specific environment and requirement.
Our experienced team ensures that all products are manufactured to the highest standards and are fully compliant with regulatory requirements, offering you peace of mind. We offer a wide range of fire extinguishers at competitive prices.
Learn more about Hart Engineering. For inquiries, contact us at +62912611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.