Fire extinguishers are identified by their colour codes which should follow the guidance of British Standard 7863. The standard red fire extinguishers are now colour coded to distinguish what type it is. Up until 1997 the whole of the extinguisher body was colour coded to identify the type.
Currently British Standard EN3 Part 7 requires that all fire extinguisher bodies should now be coloured red. Also up to 5% of the whole body can be used to identify the type of extinguisher which should be positioned above or within the operating instruction area.
If correctly serviced and maintained, extinguishers could be in service for up to 20 years. Because of this, there may be some buildings that have a combination of old and new fire extinguishers which have the same extinguishing agent but have different colour codes due to the change in regulations.
In instances like this it is suggested that extinguishers with different colour codes are not mixed together. They should either be placed on the same floor level or at the same location, depending on the building type.
Old fire extinguishers before BS EN3 should not be painted red to comply with the new standard as this is not permitted under the new regulations. These extinguishers are legal and do not need to be replaced unless it’s faulty.
There was an extinguisher which was coloured green. These were halon 1211 extinguishers, also known as BCF which were banned in 1993 due to the montreal protocol.
The fire extinguisher chart below shows what type of extinguisher can be used with classes of fires.
Every fire extinguisher must have the appropriate sign to accompany it. These signs identify the type of extinguisher and provide instructions about the use of each extinguisher.
Below is the signs for each type of fire extinguisher.