Keep a fire extinguisher near your appliances

Do you Keep a fire extinguisher near your appliances? If one of your appliances suddenly caught fire could you try to put it out, or would you be helpless? This article has been inspired after hearing all the news coming out of the Grenfell fire inquiry.
They’ve been discussing all the contributing factors to the horrific event and are desperate to learn as many lessons as possible.
There is no proof that it was started by a fridge. However, it remains the main suspect after the flat owner reported smoke coming from the back of the fridge during the 999 call. Thousands of house fires are started each year by white goods appliances (Risks involved in leaving a washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running when out or in bed).

No mention of fire extinguishers?

One thing that struck me is that I haven’t noticed a single mention of whether there was a home fire extinguisher available or not in the flat where the fire started.

This is despite all the dozens of hours of media and press I’ve seen and read. I have no idea if there was or not. My guess is that most people don’t have fire extinguishers in their homes.

We’ve had campaigns for years promoting the installation of smoke alarms. It’s now accepted by just about everybody that every home should have smoke alarms installed. Fortunately millions of homes do now have them.

I’m not aware of any similar campaigns to promote home fire extinguishers. Wouldn’t it be desirable for every flat to have appropriate home fire extinguishers? Or more ideally every house in the country?

Personally I have a small fire extinguisher in my kitchen, and one in my garage where we have several white goods appliances. I’m not trying to suggest they can stop every fire, but how many serious fires could be averted if someone is able to use a fire extinguisher on it?

Being alerted to a fire is vital but having something to fight it with is needed too

During my time creating safety advice and warnings for Whitegoodshelp I’ve heard of many cases of people being alerted to a household appliance fire but being helpless to do much about it. At least they can evacuate the house and call the Fire Brigade. But by the time they get to the fire – how much damage has been done?

I’ve heard of several cases where people have even tried to get burning appliances outside of the back door. It is clearly much better to have a small home fire extinguisher designed to tackle electrical fires. They don’t cost much, and last for many years.

I suppose there’s always a possibility that someone could try to tackle a fire inappropriately. It’s possible this might be why there hasn’t been multiple campaigns to encourage people to have them. But fire extinguishers are available in all public places so they must be considered necessary.

Which type of fire extinguisher is best?

If looking to buy a home fire extinguisher try adding the phrase, “for electrical fires” to your search. Any on sale should describe what type of fire an extinguisher is suitable for. This page gives all the information you need Fire Extinguisher Classes and Suitability

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5 thoughts on “Keep a fire extinguisher near your appliances”

  1. Excellent article and very timely. Many years ago, we had a fire extinguisher at home, but during a decorating blitz it was in the way and was thrown out, meaning to be replaced but wasn’t. We have read about Grenfell and it is a wake-up call as my husband and I live in a flat, although only 3 stories high, if one of our flats catches fire, they are all at risk.
    I am now going online to look for a good, electric fire extinguisher.

  2. HI . I read your article with interest. On looking up fire extinguishers I see there are several types. I think either the water or foam extinguishers are the ones for home use, can you advise please

  3. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Many thanks Eileen. Yes they are a very wise investment indeed. I’ve had one in my kitchen for about 8 years. I’ve never had to use it, and according to the test button it still works. It certainly feels as though appliances have never been so potentially dangerous although in the great scheme of things these incidents are thankfully still rare. Just make sure you get one suitable for electrical fires. They really don’t cost that much these days.

  4. Years ago I went on a Fire Marshall course at a hospital what an eye opener since then I have had a fire extinguisher in the house and also a blanket to cover what ever is on fire mainly a cooker. Also since then I never leave a washing machine or tumble dryer on when I’m not about in the house. Good point though after that awful fire in those flats people need to be alert and take precautions

  5. There are a few people who do have fire fighting equipment. I am one of them. I have three in my house and one in the car. Also have a fire blanket in the kitchen. I don’t know anybody else that has. Next doors don’t even have a torch if the electric fails! I have them all-over the place. 15mm pipe clips screwed to the door frames with mini Mag lights in them. Mind you I was a boy scout (Did fireman’s badge), spent 20 years in the army. Did the fireman’s and ambulance strikes in the 70s and now health & Safety rep in my work place. So I think I am switched on to disaster prevention/readiness in the home. I never have any appliance running when we are not in the house or in bed. Most things are switched off during the night. I haven’t got as far as digging a fall out shelter yet :-)

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