Car repair workshops pose a range of fire risks, from flammable liquids to high tech equipment, plus a potentially combustible mix of dust, swarf and lubricants.
So, you should always equip your workshop with at least two different types of fire extinguisher.
Class A Fires In Car Workshops
Class A fires involve fabrics and plastics, which pretty much describes the interiors of most makes of cars these days. The contents of your office area are also highly combustible, including paperwork, files, chairs and desks.
A foam fire extinguisher is suitable for use on Class A fires, and is a highly cost-effective item of firefighting equipment.
You should mount one on the wall of your workshop in an easily accessible place, where the label is clearly visible. All fire extinguishers are colour-coded, and foam fire extinguishers feature a solid red body with a cream label bearing the word “FOAM”.
Fire Extinguisher Training
As part of your fire safety requirements, all workshop staff should be trained in the correct use of all types of fire extinguisher, and be aware of the different fire extinguisher colours, so they can quickly access the right extinguisher in the event of a fire.
Fires Involving Oils, Solvents And Fuel
Depending on the level of repairs you carry out, your workshop might include a variety of flammable liquids including waxes, thinners, solvents, paints and oils. Fires involving these substances are Class B fires.
If your business involves the risk of a Class B fire, you should equip your workshop with an AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) foam fire extinguisher. These extinguishers are not affected by the alcohol content of inflammable liquids, and therefore are much more effective on fuel-based fires.
Electrical Fires In Your Car Workshop
For electrical equipment, such as testing machines, computers and even printers, you should equip your car repair workshop with a CO2 fire extinguisher. This extinguisher works by smothering the flames in a cloud of super-cool CO2 gas, so it doesn’t leave any residue on electrical equipment or conduct electricity during use.
Multi-purpose Fire Extinguishers In The Car Repair Shop
For an ‘all in one’ solution for Class A, B and C (involving flammable gases), you can provide a multi-rated powder fire extinguisher. These extinguishers are lighter to handle than foam extinguishers, and there is no risk of electric shock from exposed electrical equipment.
However, the use of powder extinguishers in confined spaces can severely reduce visibility and affect breathing, so if your workshop is tight on space and filled with equipment, this could hinder your and your staff’s escape.
BS 5306-8: section 5.4.3 therefore advises that; “Powder extinguishers should generally not be specified for use indoors, unless mitigated by a health and safety risk assessment.”
Workshop Electrical Equipment Protection
For electrical equipment, such as testing machines, computers and even printers, you should equip your car repair workshop with CO2 fire extinguisher.
This extinguisher works by smothering the flames in a cloud of super-cool CO2 gas, so it doesn’t leave any residue on electrical equipment or conduct electricity during use.
Do also consider the size of your workshop, and the time it may take a mechanic or staff member to reach any given extinguisher.
Also, consider the capacity of the extinguishers you may require; all fire extinguishers are available in various capacities, from the familiar free-standing 6kg/litre size to wheeled fire extinguishers with capacities of up to 100kg/litres.
Car Showroom Fire Safety
In your car showroom, a bright red fire extinguisher might possibly detract from the cars on display, so you can opt instead for a ‘chrome’ or other designer fire extinguisher.
These extinguishers are identical in content and operation to the standard red coloured fire extinguishers, but feature a smart, highly polished metal exterior with instructions printed in black.
Again, ensure you have a range of extinguishers available to cover the risks of Class A fires and to protect important electrical equipment such as computers.