Firefighting equipment can reduce the risk of a small fire, e.g. a fire in a waste-paper bin, developing into a large one. The safe use of an appropriate fire extinguisher to control a fire in its early stages can also significantly reduce the risk to other people in the premises by allowing people to assist others who are at risk. This equipment will usually comprise enough portable extinguishers that must be suitable for the risk.
In small premises, having one or two portable extinguishers of the appropriate type, readily available for use, may be all that is necessary. In larger, more complex premises, a number of portable extinguishers may be required and they should be sited in suitable locations, e.g. on the escape routes at each floor level. It may also be necessary to indicate the location of extinguishers by suitable signs.
Some premises will also have permanently installed firefighting equipment, such as hose reels for use by trained staff or firefighters. People with no training should not be expected to attempt to extinguish a fire. However, all staff should be familiar with the location and basic operating procedures for the equipment provided, in case they need to use it. If your fire strategy means that certain people, e.g. fire marshals, will be expected to take a more active role, then they should be provided with more comprehensive training.
Other fixed installations and facilities to assist firefighters, such as dry rising mains and access for fire engines, or automatically operated, fixed fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers and gas or foam flooding systems, may also have been provided. Where these have been required by law, e.g. the Building Regulations or local Acts, such equipment and facilities must be maintained. Similarly, if provided for other reasons, e.g. insurance, it is good practice to ensure that they are properly maintained. In most cases it will be necessary to consult a competent service engineer. Keeping records of the maintenance carried out will help you demonstrate to the enforcing authority that you have complied with fire safety law.