Fire Extinguishers


There are typically three British Standards that you will come across when using a fire extinguisher.

BS EN3 - Since 1997 extinguishers have been manufactured to a European standard. This is an attempt to ensure that all extinguishers across Europe are manufactured to a common specification and draws upon an amalgamation of standards from several different countries. Under the European standard all fire extinguishers must be coloured red.

BS 7863 - In 1997 as a result of the loss of colour identification, this standard was introduced allowing up to 10% of the extinguisher to be colour coded to identify the extiguishing media.

BS5423 - This standard applied until 1997. Extinguishers manufactured under this standard followed a colour code to identify their contents.

Water Extinguisher - Red
Foam Extinguisher - Cream
Powder Extinguisher - Blue
Carbon dioxide - Black
Halon extinguisher - Green

In some circumstances it was also feasible for equipment manufactured under this standard to be natural metal coloured i.e. stainless steel finish or for extinguishers to be entirely red.


BS5306-3 - All fire extinguishers should be maintained to this British Standard. The recommendations given in the standard are extracted from the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

User - weekly

  1. Check the extinguisher safety clip or pin and any pressure indicator to determine whether the extinguisher has been operated
  2. Check the extinguishers external condition for dents, corrosion or other damage that could render the appliance unsafe.

More extensive checks must be carried out by a competent person as follows:

  1. Basic annual service (in accordance with BS5306)
  2. Extended service at five yearly intervals