Fires tend to occur at the most unexpected of times, and it’s in such situations that fire extinguishers play an undeniably vital role. What for the most part was just a red canister on your wall, suddenly becomes the difference between minor and extensive damage to your property. For your extinguisher to be up to the task when the need arises, maintenance is necessary.
Fire Extinguisher Inspections
Even though an in-house employee could follow a basic checklist and sign off on each extinguisher, an inspection completed by a skilled professional is required at least annually. The experience and expertise that comes with years of fire prevention work allow for a more thorough inspection process. When every part of the extinguisher is examined carefully, property owners can feel more confident in its ability to stop the fire in its tracks.
Visual Fire Extinguisher Inspections
According to guidelines, employers are required to perform visual fire inspections on their extinguishers once per month. This can be done by employees or building maintenance crews since it isn’t very demanding. Those conducting the inspection should check whether;
There is visible physical damage to the equipment.
The extinguisher is in its designated location.
Any obstructions are blocking the extinguisher from easy access and view.
The equipment is fully charged and operational. Ensuring the fire extinguisher is fully charged at all times is paramount to your safety, that of those around you, and your property’s.
NZS 4503 requires employers to conduct a full maintenance inspection on their workplace’s fire extinguishers once per year. It will entail a thorough examination and repair of all fire extinguishers in your facility. Due to its nature, it should be performed by an experienced professional fire protection company.
Professionals have the right tools and training and will do a better job. They will be able to recognise and correct potentially hazardous situations if any. All extinguishers that pass the maintenance inspection are tagged with a dated inspection tag. If an extinguisher fails the check, it is either repaired or replaced.
Internal Maintenance Inspection
Internal maintenance inspection should be carried out once every five years. It is a more thorough and demanding process and should also be conducted by professionals. First, the extinguisher will be discharged. Then a full internal examination will be done. The extinguisher will then be recharged to ensure all components are fully functional.
Hydrostatic testing is also carried out either independently or as part of internal maintenance inspection. It ensures the integrity and ability of the cylinders to contain the pressure used to expel the agent. Depending on the type of agent, hydrostatic testing is carried out.
Maintaining your fire extinguishers is paramount. In addition to fulfilling conditions by New Zealand standards, it ensures yours and your property’s safety.
Nonetheless, apart from maintaining your fire extinguishers, there are other factors of equal importance that you should consider.
Choosing The Right Fire Extinguisher
Each flammable material is in a unique fire classification. Fire classifications include Class A, B, C, D, E and F. Each class has its own recommended fire extinguisher type. Therefore, it’s advisable to let a professional handle the installation of a fire extinguisher. Professionals recognise the category which your environment falls in and the appropriate fire extinguisher for a fire emergency.
Fire Extinguisher Installation Methods
Choosing the right area to install a fire extinguisher is very important. It should be in a place where it is easily visible and accessible in case of a fire. For instance, it should be installed in an easily breakable glass cabinet or mounted on a metal bracket, where it can easily be removed when the need arises.
The PASS Technique: How To Use A Fire Extinguisher
The most common emergency for any small business is a fire and which is something that they need to plan for at all times. Fire extinguishers are an invaluable tool for small businesses and homeowners alike when it comes to fighting small fires. It can help protect evacuation routes and valuable equipment from damage.
Determining The Type Of Fire
A fire can be broken down into three basic components. These are:
The purpose of fighting a fire is to eliminate one of these things. When the fire does not have one, or a combination of these, it will die out. However, this means different things can act as a source of ignition and fuel. This is the reason why there are several different types, or classes, of fire. These are:
Once you have determined what type of fire it is, take a look at the extinguishers that you have available. If the extinguisher type you are looking for is not available, it would be best to evacuate and call the fire department for assistance.
What Is The PASS Technique?
Employers must make sure that their employees receive fire extinguisher training and also know how to assess a particular situation to determine if evacuation is the safest option. Also, businesses are required to ensure that their employees go through annual fire extinguisher training.
PASS is a straightforward fire extinguisher training technique that anyone can learn. PASS is an abbreviation for:
Other Important Things To Keep In Mind
Now employees knowing the PASS Technique certainly isn’t the end of the training. Employees who are meant to work as responders to a fire should also be well-versed in the following protocol:
Fire Extinguishers Are For Small Fires
While the PASS technique does work to ensure that employees can handle a fire extinguisher safely, it only works for small fires. If the fire is very large or the environment is dangerous, like in an oil and gas plant, then employees should know exactly how to evacuate.
Employees shouldn’t fight a fire if:
There is thick smoke that makes it difficult to breathe. At this point, the fire is impossible to fight without some type of respiratory protection.
A smoky or hot environment can be challenging to stay in for a long time. Radiated heat can make it impossible to approach a fire using a fire extinguisher. Also, poor visibility further complicates an already tricky situation. All of which merits that employees leave it to the professional.
The fire extinguisher is one of the best safety tools in the event of a fire that any employee can handle. The PASS Technique makes using the extinguisher easy. However, it is just as crucial for an employee to know when using the extinguisher will work, this is why keeping your fire equipment maintenance up to date is essential.
Fire Extinguisher Band Colours NZ
Fire extinguishers are an essential tool in the unfortunate event of a fire.
Not only can they save property but can also save lives and reduce the chance of danger to those involved.
Different fire extinguisher types are more effective with different classes of fire. Some types may even cause more harm if used on the wrong kind of fire.
It is necessary to know and appreciate each extinguisher’s different uses as using the incorrect type of fire extinguisher could be deadly.
Before knowing how and when to use each fire extinguisher, it is important to have an understanding of each class of fire.
The Different Classes Of Fire Are:
Class A – Combustible solids such as wood, paper, cloth or plastic
Class B – Flammable liquids such as petrol, Kerosene or paint
Class C – Flammable gases such as LPG gas or natural gas
Class D – Combustible metals such as aluminium or magnesium
Class E – Electrically energised equipment such as short-circuited machinery or overloaded electrical cables.
Class F – Cooking fats and oils such as vegetable oil, fats and lard.
A fire requires three key elements to thrive. These are oxygen, heat, and fuel. Fire extinguishers work by removing at least one of these three key elements.
An easy way to identify each type of fire extinguisher is by the different coloured bands found on the top of each cylinder.
This band allows us to identify what type of fire extinguisher it is from a distance, therefore, allowing us to recognise which fire to use it for.
Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers
Dry chemical fire extinguishers or otherwise known as ABE or BE are the most popular type of extinguisher in New Zealand.
They can fight multiple classes of fire and are commonly installed in offices, homes and factories.
A dry powder fire extinguisher is identified by its all red cylinder and white band that runs around the top of the tank.
In New Zealand, you can find two types of dry powder fire extinguisher.
ABE Fire Extinguishers
Due to their wide variety of uses, the ABE dry chemical powder extinguisher is by far the most used in New Zealand.
As the name suggests, it can be used to fight fires from class A, B and E.
ABE fire extinguishers contain a chemical powder called monoammonium phosphate which extinguishes the fire by melting over the fuel source.
Using a powder fire extinguisher in a confined space or indoors can cause poor visibility, and may make it difficult to breathe.
BE Fire Extinguishers
The BE fire extinguisher is not as commonly used. These fire extinguishers are used to fight Class B and E fires. The chemicals usually found in BE extinguishers are sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate which smothers the fire and extinguishes it.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers
Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2, is recommended for use on class E fires.
They are identified by the black band running around the top of the red cylinder.
CO2 fire extinguishers contain a non-conductive and non-corrosive extinguishing agent, therefore, will cause no damage to electrical equipment.
This type of fire extinguisher is often found in areas such as electrical server/data rooms, switch rooms, or next to electrical machinery.
Carbon dioxide works by removing the oxygen element from the fire.
Foam Fire Extinguishers
Foam fire extinguishers can also be referred to as AFFF extinguishers due to the aqueous film foaming foam that it contains.
Foam fire extinguishers are used for class A and B fires.
It is simple to identify a foam fire extinguisher by the blue band that runs around the top of the cylinder.
When foam fire extinguishers are used to extinguish a fire, they remove the element of oxygen by creating a blanket of foam on top of the fuel source of the fire as well as creating a cooling effect from the water.
AFFF fire extinguishers are generally used within warehouse’s, petrol stations and storage facilities and are not recommended for use in kitchens on class F fires.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Wet chemical fire extinguishers are used for class A and F fires.
They are the only type of fire extinguisher recommended for use on class F fires.
You can identify wet chemical extinguishers by the oatmeal coloured band running around the top of the cylinder.
It is highly suggested that they are installed in commercial kitchens.
Wet chemical fire extinguishers contain a solution of potassium; this solution smothers the fire and removes the element of heat.
A wet chemical fire extinguisher must never be used on Class E fires.
Water Fire Extinguishers
Water fire extinguishers are the commonly found both domestically and commercially and are recommended for use on class A fires.
The all-red cylinder can identify these extinguishers with no coloured band.
Water fire extinguishers are often found in storage facilities and warehouses.
As with wet chemical and foam extinguishers, it’s important to remember that water fire extinguishers should never be used on a class E fires as it would potentially put you at risk of electrocution.
How To Use A Fire Extinguisher
All fire extinguishers in New Zealand require the PASS technique to operate
The PASS technique is as follows…
Fire Extinguisher Type And Use Chart
What Are The Six Classes Of Fire?
The fuel that is burning dictates the type of extinguisher you use to fight the fire. To help you understand this idea, you need to know how fires are classified and which fire extinguishers are fitting for each class.
The six classes of fire in New Zealand are
In this article, we will cover the different classes of fire in detail and provide you with the knowledge of which fire extinguisher is best to use.
Class A Fires
Class A fires involve combustible solid materials that can be found in businesses and homes. The most common materials include paper, textile materials, plastics, rubber and wood.
An example of a class A fire could be the ignition of rubbish bins or furniture due to hot embers.
The type of fire extinguishers that are recommended for A-class fires are
Class B Fires
Class B fires are fires that are caused by flammable and combustible liquids such as chemical-based petrol, kerosene, alcohol, oil, paint thinners and plastic.
It’s typical for a class B fire to occur within a workshop environment such as a panel beater or mechanics, some typical cases of ignition include welding or sparks from power tools that come into contact with flammable oils.
The recommended type of fire extinguishers to fight class B fires are
It is crucial to remember that you never use water on an oil-based fire as it has the potential to spread the fire and will more than likely cause an explosion of the burning oil.
Class C Fires
Class C fires are caused by flammable gases such as LPG, methane, acetylene, hydrogen, natural gas and butane. These gases are often found within workshops, garages and kitchens.
It is common for class C fires to happen due to gas leaks from cooktops, stoves, gas-powered tools or the workshop barbecue.
The only type of fire extinguisher recommended for class C fires is
Class D Fires
Class D fires happen due to combustible metals such as potassium, sodium, lithium, aluminium, magnesium and swarf. These types of fires are not as common because metal requires a significant amount of heat to ignite.
There are specialised dry powders to control this class of fire. You can also use sand to smother the fire.
Class E Fires
Class E fires involve energised electrical equipment such as fan heaters, electronics and kitchen appliances. These are a common cause of fire within the home or workplace.
A typical example of a class E fire is from electrical appliances overheating, faulty tools, heaters being covered and frayed wiring.
The recommended type of fire extinguisher for a Class E fire are
Class F Fires
Class F Fires are caused by cooking fats and oils. This type of fire is more likely to occur within food preparation areas and kitchens.
A common scenario for a class F fire would be when a pan of hot oil overheats or oil spitting when cooking.
The recommended type of extinguishers for class F fires are
Do you have a leaking, rusty, or damaged fire extinguisher? Has it been discharged recently and is now in need a recharge? We provide fire extinguisher services in Tauranga and the surrounding areas. Our fire extinguisher services in Tauranga, Rotorua, Hamilton, as well as the surrounding areas include fire extinguisher inspections, refills, and replacements. At Building Compliance Inspections, we offer a large variety of fire extinguisher services. So you can be confident in knowing your fire extinguisher is ready to go, should you need it.
A fire extinguisher is classified according to the type of fire it is effective against. Depending on the type of fire risks your Tauranga property may face, our technicians will recommend an extinguisher to fight one or more of the following fire types:
Fire Extinguisher Inspections in Tauranga
The New Zealand standards require annual fire extinguisher inspections along with monthly checks that you can do on your own. Building Compliance Inspections provides annual fire extinguisher inspection services to many buildings throughout Waikato and Bay Of Plenty.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance In Tauranga
Fire extinguishers are pretty strong. However, as time goes by, it’s not uncommon to find that your fire extinguisher has dents, leaks, rust or other environmental damage that can reduce its ability to keep you protected. A damaged fire extinguisher will probably require some off-site work. BCI can provide the fire extinguisher service you need in Tauranga or surrounding areas. We are able to provide fire extinguisher maintenance on your site with minimum disruption to your day. So you know your fire extinguisher will keep you protected at all times.
Fire Extinguisher Recharge In Tauranga
Have you had to use your fire extinguisher lately? It would be best if you had your extinguisher recharged. We can leave you with a loan unit of the same type and size while we take your one with us to refill and recharge.
Fire Extinguisher Hydrostatic Testing In Tauranga
High quality, maintained fire extinguishers are able to remain in service for a rather long time. However, if your fire extinguisher is more than five years old, the NZ standard requires you to have it replaced (if cheaper) or hydro-tested. A hydrostatic test on your fire extinguisher will make sure the cylinder has no cracks, leaks and will remain safe while under pressure. However, if we need to replace your fire extinguishers, that’s no problem. We also provide fire extinguisher replacement throughout Tauranga and the surrounding BOP areas.
Tauranga Fire Extinguisher Sales
As necessary and relatively affordable as fire extinguishers are, a shocking amount of companies do not replace outdated fire extinguishers. Or worse, they may have the wrong type of fire extinguisher for the hazards in their business. Using the wrong kind of fire extinguisher has the unintended potential to amplify fire damage by spreading instead of smothering the source of combustion. Let our technicians evaluate your Tauranga based facility, including the type of fire hazards you may face, and suggest the right fire extinguisher solution for your operations.
If you are the manager or owner of a New Zealand building, then you are legally obligated to provide evidence that the building meets the health and safety requirements set out in The Building Act 2004 and the associated regulations of that Act.
Part of the process is that building owners have to hold a current Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF) if there are any safety systems installed in the building.
These systems, also called “Specified Systems” are the parts of the building infrastructure that, should they fail to fulfil their purpose, would potentially endanger the health, safety, and lives of occupants within the building. Prime examples of these specified systems are sprinkler systems, lifts and escalators, and smoke alarms. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment maintains a full list of Specified Systems as defined by the Building Warrant of Fitness on their website.
These specified systems will, of course, require regular maintenance, inspections, and testing to ensure that they are working at the optimum level. That is the purpose of the BWoF; to ensure that these systems are adequately looked after, repaired, and – if necessary – replaced across the lifespan of a building.
The Building Act 2004
Every bit of building work across New Zealand, from construction and demolition to renovation, is covered by the Building Act and the regulations of the Act. This includes the New Zealand Building Code. A local council will administer the requirements of the Act on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The New Zealand Building Act ensures that buildings are kept to a nationwide standard in order to meet the health and safety requirements of the future occupants of the building. The Building Code offers regulations that focus on building durability, sanitation services and facilities, fire safety, energy efficiency, moisture control, and building accessibility.
Building WoF Owner Obligations
The Building Act 2004 lays out the rules and regulations for buildings with Specified Systems. This includes information about the Building Warrant of Fitness, which calls on building owners to;
The local council regularly review Compliance Schedules, Building Warrant of Fitness certificates, and Form 12As in order to ensure that the building is in line with the regulations of the Building Act. Copies of these documents and their related paperwork are held by the council for the lifespan of the building.
If you need any help with Building Compliance or with a Building Warrant of Fitness then get in touch with our experts and specialists.
The Building Warrant of Fitness serves a similar function to that of a vehicle warrant of fitness. It ensures the continued health and safety of building occupants. There are many parts of a building that can be damaged by regular wear and tear and could become a risk to occupants if left unchecked. These key aspects are vital to the continued safety of the building and the people therein and are often referred to as Specified Systems or Life Safety Systems.
Specified Systems include things like automatic fire suppression systems such as sprinklers, automatic and manual emergency warning systems for dangerous emergencies including fires, automatic doors and windows, escape route presentation systems, lighting systems, emergency power systems, lifts and escalators, and mechanical air conditioning and ventilation systems.
The main purpose of a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF) process is to ensure that these systems receive the regular inspection, maintenance, and testing they require. It outlines the instructions on how to perform these tasks in accordance with the legal requirements set out in the Building Act 2004.
Here’s a basic rundown of the entire Building Warrant of Fitness Process;
A Compliance Schedule is Issued to a Building Owner
The Local Building Consent Authority (Council) issues the Compliance Schedule alongside the Code of Compliance Certificate when the building work has been finished. This document includes details of the Specified Systems in the building that should be maintained, inspected, and reported about on a regular basis.
IQPs are Contacted and Engaged
For most cases, an Independent Qualified Person (IQP) is needed to perform the work as required. This is a person or company that has no financial interested in the building. They are all registered with – and approved by – the local council.
The Work is Performed as Expected
The building owner must then ensure that the schedule of inspection, maintenance, and reporting as listed in the Compliance Schedule is carried out at the necessary intervals.
Supporting Documentation is Received
An IQP is required to provide the council with a “Form 12A” that will prove the requirements listed in the Compliance Schedule are met as needed. Without this supporting document, it is impossible to generate and issue a Building Warrant of Fitness. Form 12A is also called a “Certificate of Compliance with Inspection, Maintenance, and Reporting Procedures” form.
Detailed Records are Kept as Needed
Detailed records of inspections, maintenance, and repairs are kept and must be kept for a period of at least two years. This includes records of work that was carried out, the date of the work, faults found, the solutions applied, and the name of the person who conducted the work.
A BWoF Certificate is Issued
Building owners must abide by the requirements of the BWoF. They must also apply for a new one every 12 months and sign and display each new certificate as it is issued. This ensures that the requirements of the Compliance Schedule have indeed been met and informs staff of what is expected of them. Failure to apply for new certificates and display them can result in penalties, including fines.
Documents are Sent to the Council
A copy of the Building Warrant of Fitness is sent to the local council along with any Form 12As the IQP has filled in and any recommended amendments to the Compliance Schedule. The council holds on to their own copies of the documents and will keep a record of all documents received throughout the lifetime of the building in question.
The Building Warrant of Fitness is the written proof of the fact that a building owner has met the legal requirements necessary to properly inspect, maintain, and report on the Specified Systems of their building as listed under the Compliance Schedule. If you need any help or advice about the Building Warrant of Fitness process or need help to meet the compliance requirements for your own building, then get in touch with our Building Compliance and BWoF Management experts today.
The Building Act 2004 – which covers the safety and integrity of buildings – states that building owners with buildings that contain “specified systems” related to health and safety, then those buildings must maintain a Compliance Schedule and they must produce Building Warrant of Fitness documents annually. These documents verify that those specified systems have been adequately maintained and looked after.
The Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF) documents that the systems specified in the Compliance Schedule have all been properly inspected maintained, and reported on during the past 12 months. The BWoF and any supporting documents are supplied to the local council annually, and a copy of them should be displayed within the building itself where everyone can see it.
The Building Warrant of Fitness should be renewed each year before it expires. Failing to have the documents renewed is considered a breach of the Building Act 2004 and you will face consequences. This renewal process involves hiring Independent Qualified Persons (IQPs) who will inspect and maintain specified systems as outlined in the Compliance Schedule.
What are Specified Systems?
The “specified systems” are the parts of a building infrastructure that are fundamental in ensuring the health and safety of the occupants of said building. These specified systems require, by their very nature, constant maintenance. It is important that they remain fully operational and running at peak performance levels.
Here are some examples of specified systems;
A full list of specified systems can be found in the Compliance Schedule Handbook.
What is a Compliance Schedule?
The Compliance Schedule is issued by the local council. The schedule contains a record of the specified systems of a building, including the inspection, testing, and maintenance they require. It also covers who should carry out the work and when it should be conducted. They have been amended to include information about the building, the owner, and the purpose of the building in recent years.
The information on the schedule is collected when applying for building consent. You will have to supply the specific location and proposed maintenance and testing procedures for the building. Upon confirmation, the Compliance Schedule is issued alongside the Code of Compliance Certificate.
The Compliance Schedule Statement is to be displayed publicly in a building for the 12 months before an official Building WOF is issued, at which point the WOF is displayed instead.
What is an IQP?
Given the complex mechanical nature of these specified systems, they should be inspected and maintained by qualified professional specialists. An IQP is a person or entity that has no financial interested in the building who has been approved by the local council to conduct the work as necessary.
The requirements for the BWoF state that you need to obtain a 12A certificate from the IQP. This 12A form certifies that the inspection, maintenance, and reporting requirements for the Compliance Schedule have been met for the past 12 month period for the specified systems in a building.
You can find an IQP register at your local council. They keep a list of all the approved people and companies that you can use as an IQP for your specified systems.
Did you know that you are legally required to keep records of all maintenance, inspections and repairs for a minimum of two years? If you need any help managing building compliance requirements, meeting your legal obligations, and notifying the local council about the maintenance of your specified systems, then don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
Building Warrant of Fitness
As a commercial property owner, ensuring that your tenants live in a safe environment should be your top priority. All systems in the building should be in good working condition. However, it is a sad fact that some property owners neglect this responsibility, putting the lives of those that use their buildings in danger. To avert such scenarios, every commercial property owner is required to have a building warranty of fitness.
Understanding the building warrant of fitness
A building warrant of fitness is a legal document that’s issued by building owners to certify that all the specified systems in the building are functioning correctly. The building warrant of fitness to be issued annually and displayed in places where the public can easily access it. This certificate is only issued after an independent qualified person inspects, carries out maintenance and compiles a report showing the condition of the specified systems in the building.
It is important to note that some independent qualified persons only specialize in certain systems. Therefore, ensure that you work with one that’s experienced enough on the systems in your building. Your IQP will issue you with a form 12A that has to be presented with the building warrant of fitness to the local authority in charge of building compliance.
Finding Independent qualified personnel to work with is a very important step in the generation of a building warrant of fitness. The first step in finding the best IQP to help audit the specified systems in your building is to Consult Building Compliance Inspections. We are in a position to provide you with the list of all registered IQPs. You can go through the list to find an independent qualified person that’s best suited to inspect your building. If an IQP is not registered with this council, do not work with them.
Why is it important to work with a local IQP?
For your building compliance needs, it is advisable to work with a local IQP and here’s why:
i. It is cheaper
By working with a building compliance expert that’s from your region, they don’t add transportation cost to their fee, which makes it cost-effective to work with them.
ii. Good local knowledge
If there’s someone that can give you the best building compliance services, it is one that understands your locality well enough. A local IQP understands the compliance laws of your locality, and the geography of the area, which is an important factor when accessing the building.
iii. They are well networked with local contractors
In some cases, during the inspection, your IQP may find areas that need to be repaired. With a local IQP, you won’t have to worry about getting a contractor to repair. This is because most of them are well networked with contractors from your region, and they can easily contact them to come and help with the work. Remember, a local contractor also has a better understanding of the code that governs how repair and maintenance are done on buildings within your locality.
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