What type of fire extinguisher should you use on construction sites?

We recently in our blog ‘Fire at the construction site - 13 tips for fire prevention’ about how fire prevention must therefore be a top priority when planning and managing construction work.

Why? Because construction sites are at an increased risk of fire, due to factors such as unfinished building structures, increased waste and building materials, and the storage and use of fuels and other flammable materials and substances.

Fire safety tip number 12 was to always have suitable fire extinguishers readily to hand and a fire and emergency plan in place. Ensure this forms part of the induction procedure for all site operatives.

But what type of fire extinguisher should you use on a construction site?

There are various different extinguishers available to tackle different types of fires.

In a fixed work environment, it is usual practice to assess the fire risk within a particular location and match the extinguisher to the risk in that specific area.

On a construction site, this process is not as straightforward. The risks and hazards within areas are changing on a regular basis as the construction project progresses. Where you could be installing electrical cables one day, you may be welding or varnishing the next.

The most versatile extinguisher type for general construction use, in our opinion, is the dry power extinguisher.

The dry powder extinguisher can tackle most fire types, apart from cooking oils and fats (which are not usually in large supply on site, unless you have on site canteen and cooking facilities on larger sites, in which case you might supply wet chemical extinguishers and fire blankets to that area).

Dry power extinguishers can handle wood and waste material fires, but also tackle flammable gases, liquids and electrical fires.

As always it is important to carry out a fire risk assessment, to determine the hazards and risks present, throughout the project.

You may find you need more than one type of extinguisher for different areas of your site, although remember to give your workforce the training and knowledge to identify the different types of fire and the extinguisher types.

Make sure your workforce understand the types of fires and the extinguishers that can be used. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a fire can cause more harm that good - download our free fire extinguisher tool box talk.