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Servicing of Portable Fire Extinguishers 12 February 2013

On Wednesday 6th February 2013, Francis Hannigan trading as Fire Fighter (IOM) based in Ramsey was given a conditional discharge for 12 months after pleading guilty to recklessly making a false statement as to the servicing of portable fire extinguishers. In addition, he was ordered to pay costs of £450.00 and compensation of £79.00.

Mr Hannigan, aged 72 at the time, had stated on a maintenance certificate issued in September last year that he had serviced 14 portable fire extinguishers to the appropriate British Standard at the premises concerned whereas in fact he had not serviced any of them to that standard. Many of the fire extinguishers exhibited major non-conformities when examined by an independent expert witness, who reported that two of the fire extinguishers potentially presented a serious risk of injury to any person attempting to operate them.

This prosecution followed a joint investigation by Trading Standards and the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate, the latter serving a Prohibition Notice on Mr Hannigan in October last year which effectively stops him from servicing and maintaining portable fire extinguishers until he can demonstrate that has the competence to do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

The following photographs were taken shortly after Mr Hannigan had supposedly serviced the fire extinguishers to the appropriate British Standard.

Fire Extinguisher 1Fire Extinguisher 2

Following on from the prosecution, Trading Standards, the Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate and the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service are offering the following Fire Extinguisher 3advice concerning the servicing of portable fire extinguishers:

  • It is strongly recommended that contractors comply with the requirements specified in the latest edition (currently July 2009) of Part 3 (Commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers – Code of Practice) of BS 5306, including the specified training requirements, in addition to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • It is strongly recommended that clients insist on contractors complying with the requirements specified in Part 3 of BS 5306 in addition to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Servicing should only be undertaken by competent technicians who are able to produce evidence of having had the appropriate theoretical and practical training, including any necessary updates. They should be fully aware of the requirements specified in Part 3 of BS 5306 in addition to the manufacturer’s instructions and should be able to either produce or make reference to copies of both the standard and any such instructions without undue delay.
  • Clients should always challenge and check any claims made by contractors, including claims as to membership of trade organisations.
  • Clients who have any doubts as to the validity of any maintenance labels or certificates should contact Trading Standards for advice.

David Quirk MHK, the Chairman of the OFT, says:

“We would urge anyone who has had any portable fire extinguishers serviced by Mr Hannigan trading as Fire Fighter (IOM) or possibly as Celtic Services to have them checked by a reputable contractor in line with the above advice. Portable fire extinguishers must be specified and commissioned correctly to meet the particular fire risk and must then be properly serviced and maintained. If they are not checked by a competent technician at least once a year, then there is a danger that when they are needed most, in the event of a fire, they will not work properly. This prosecution is an excellent example of agencies within Government working together.”

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