Part 6 Fire Extinguishing and Escape


Question Mar 2012: Why do portable fire extinguisher need to be properly certificated?

Answer: There are six points why portable fire extinguishers must be marked with at least one of the accepted accredited third-party certification marks.
  • Accredited certification is the outcome of the 'type approval' process commissioned by, but independent of manufacturers. 
  • Accredited certification follows successful 'type testing' (lab tests using accredited laboratories) and 'production quality control' (site visits to the factory to check consistency of manufacture).
  • Type approval is undertaken by accredited certification bodies themselves meeting stringent European standards.
  • Type approval is intended to ensure a high level of confidence in the manufacturer's claims of adherence to manufacturing standards and consistent production quality, and also to enhance the manufacturer's business competitiveness. 
  • Type approval is employed extensively in safety critical applications.  This fact is recognised in the text of the European extinguisher manufacturing standard EN 3 and in previous manufacturing standards.
  • It is widely recognised in this safety-critical area that type approval offers the best guarantee of the effective operation of an extinguisher when called upon.

Question Mar 12: Do extinguishers marked with EN 3 always meet the check for portable fire extinguishers to be properly certificated?

Answer: The short answer is no. As the check says, you must look for the markings of at least one of the accepted accredited third-party certification bodies and make a record the mark of the certifying body, i.e. BSI 'Kitemark', BAFE, LPCB, AFNOR 'NF' mark or MED 'ships wheel'.

In point of fact, examiners are not required to check the standard to which extinguishers have been manufactured.  Extinguishers carrying one of the accepted accredited third-party certification marks may have been manufactured to either the previous British Standard BS 5423 or the current standard EN 3.


Question Mar 12: In the ECPs the picture of the acceptable Marine Equipment Directive 'Ships Wheel' shows a CE mark and yet the 'applicability' says CE marking is not acceptable?


Answer: The picture shows two separate marks. In order to avoid any confusion, we'll change the image to show only the 'Ships Wheel' mark at the next opportunity.

The 'Ships Wheel' marks denotes compliance with the Marine Equipment Directive. The number under the mark denotes the Notified Body involved.

Here is another example without the CE mark


The CE mark denotes compliance with the Pressure Equipment Directive. The number under the mark denotes the Notified Body involved.

Portable fire extinguishers marked as complying with the Marine Equipment Directive (the 'Ships Wheel' mark) are fully acceptable because it is certain that performance of the extinguisher model would have been assured using an accredited laboratory and because of the involvement of a Notified Body.

On the other hand, CE marking to the Pressure Equipment Directive does not give any assurance of manufacture or performance and fire testing is not carried out as part of this Directive. CE marking only relates to conformity in respect to the safety of the extinguisher as a pressure vessel