P50 Fire extinguishers

Are fire extinguishers needed?
1024 536 Fire Risk Assessment & Fire Safety Training

To P50 or not to P50, that is the question?

As a fire professional I have witnessed and heard arguments for and against the use of Britannia Fire’s P50 fire extinguishers range. I have heard all the arguments from, “they don’t meet the British Standard” to, “there is no British Standard for fire extinguishers”.

It is confusing so Assessed Risk Limited decided to look into the myths and the truths to assist our customers with their decision making.

What does the Law say?

Article 13 of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states.

Where necessary the Responsible Person MUST ensure that appropriate fire-fighting equipment is provided. This should be easily accessible, simple to use and indicated by signs. It should also be relevant to the activities carried out on site and appropriate for the hazards present.

The Responsible Person should also nominate competent persons to implement the installation of fire extinguishers, train staff to use them against the likely risks, ensure there is enough for the building and that the extinguishers are appropriate for the risks present.

Fire legislation

Is there any other help?

DCLG produced Fire Risk guidance by property types in 2006 and this provides further guidance. It does state that British Standard exists to assist with meeting the Law, but it also provides the following guidance. Typically, for the class A fire risk, the provision of one fire extinguisher is appropriate per every 200m2 with a minimum of 2 per floor. Where there are additional risks an appropriate fire extinguisher should be added to meet the risk. It also helps on types, positioning, signs and locations. The guidance does offer the British Standard 5306 as a reference point for the above, but this is guidance and not Law.

Fire guidance

British Standard 5306, what does this offer?

The British standard offers guidance on all areas of fire extinguishers, including selection, installation, commissioning, and maintenance. The aim is to ensure that the Law is met and sets a benchmark for competent persons in all of the aforementioned areas. Due to the standard, the frequency of testing is likely to be more expensive due the standards requirements. This is where the P50 range is inviting, as this differs from the British Standard with regards to maintenance and types of testing meaning financial savings can be made with the P50 via less paid servicing.

So does a P50 fire extinguisher meet the Law?

Yes, if you provide a minimum of two per floor or 1 per 200m2 and locate any adjacent to risk areas, you have met the Law and followed the guidance provided by the Government. Due to the design of the P50 range, it also meets other risks like flammable liquids and electricity.

So, to P50 or not to P50?

P50s’ should not be excluded as an option. In using this range and following the guidance provided by the Government, you can meet the Law, make financial savings, and have a suitable provision of fire extinguishers for your business. Ultimately, check your insurance to ensure there is no requirement to follow a British Standard but if there is not, P50s’ should be a consideration.


Scott Taylor MIFireE, MIFSM, CFPA E-Dip TC

Scott Taylor has worked as a fire professional for over 15 years working in the public and commercial sector. He likes to work with businesses as a partner, passing on knowledge and information in a pragmatic manner balancing risk, benefit and cost to ensure compliance.

All stories by: Scott Taylor MIFireE, MIFSM, CFPA E-Dip TC