We have been supplying fire extinguishers and safety equipment to landlords for many years and believed we were expert at advising the right combination of fire protection equipment required for this risk. We even sell a Landlords pack comprising the basic essentials for protecting residential units from fire.A telephone enquiry we received the other day demonstrated that not all Landlords are as well informed.
The Landlord who will remain nameless wanted a price for an automatic dry powder fire extinguisher to install in a residential room. These specialist extinguishers are typically installed in engine compartments on boats and over motors, generators and other at risk equipment to provide localised automatic protection in the event of fire in an unattended compartment. I have never known one to be installed to protect an occupied dwelling. Automatic fixed water fire sprinkler systems are the best and safest solution in this application.
When pressed he explained that the room was in a drop in facility for the homeless and the new occupant was a chain smoking alcoholic tramp that he feared may nod off and set fire to the room.
An automatic extinguisher could possibly put out a fire in a bedroom but as the automatic unit would be in a fixed location it would depend on where the fire originated. The powder could also smother the occupant particularly if they were asleep. Automatic extinguishers are also activated by a heat sensitive liquid filled glass bulb that would be prone to vandalism. In the end we convinced the customer that an automatic extinguisher was far from an ideal solution and that an audible smoke alarm and a portable wall mounted fire extinguisher may provide more appropriate protection. He could also look at installing a radio or fixed wire smoke alarm system connected to a central monitoring station.
For more information on Automatic Fire Sprinklers visit www.bafsa.org.uk