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Fire extinguisher expired? This does not make your insurer happy

11 December 2020

Hopefully we don't have to explain to you that your company needs to have sufficient extinguishing equipment  to ensure fire safety in and around your company buildings. But how sure are you that your fire extinguishers, fire reels and so on have not yet passed their expiry date? If your company does not meet the maintenance obligation (on time), this can have unpleasant consequences for you in terms of your directors' and officers' liability.

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Annual inspection of fire extinguishers

For private individuals, the regulations do not apply, but for companies, the Royal Decree of 28 March 2014 imposes an annual obligation to have all fire protection equipment - mobile and non-mobile fire extinguishers, fire reels and also emergency lighting - inspected. An inspection authority (with accreditation from the federal government) will then check, among other things, that all the equipment has not yet expired.

What about your first intervention team?

You may have a few staff members in your organisation who together form the first intervention team. In many companies, they are not only responsible for the first extinguishing operations until the emergency services are on site, but also for regular visual inspections of all the equipment. That is certainly not a bad thing - and it is even a requirement of many fire insurers - but know that this check by your own people does not in any way replace the compulsory annual inspection by an approved authority!

Fire extinguisher expired: Director may be liable

If a fire breaks out in your company, and it turns out that the fire extinguishers did not work because they were expired, then you, as a director, may get into trouble. There is a possibility that your fire insurer will initially indemnify the damage, but that you will ultimately be held liable for the damage due to negligence. A Director's and Officer's liability insurance (D&O)  may then be able to help you, although it is obviously better to prevent it than to cure it.

Want to know more? Do not hesitate to contact us

fireinsurance, directorsandofficersliability, extinguishers, negligence, fire safety

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