It is always a good idea to test and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors during daylight savings, but is there anything you should check on your fire extinguishers? We have outlined some fire extinguisher basics for commercial buildings to help you make sure your extinguishers are operational to protect your facility and the people in it during an emergency.
Are all fire extinguishers the same?
The type of fire extinguisher you need depends on the material that is fueling the fire. Using the wrong fire extinguisher can make a fire worse, but luckily most fire extinguishers will tell you which type(s) of fires they should be used for.
5 Classes of Fire Extinguishers:
• Class A: Ordinary combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, trash, and plastic.
• Class B: Flammable liquids/gases like gasoline, oil, grease, and acetone.
• Class C: Electrical equipment, which includes anything that can be plugged in.
• Class D: Combustible metals such as aluminum, magnesium, sodium, and titanium.
• Class K: Combustible cooking materials like oil, grease, and fats.
The fire extinguishers in your building should correspond with the possible hazards. If you need help ordering the correct fire extinguisher for your facility, contact our building specialty experts.
Where should fire extinguishers be placed and stored?
They should be placed in plain view, unobstructed, and near an escape route or exit. You should make sure they are installed away from heat sources and out of children’s’ reach. Fire extinguisher cabinets are a great way to store and protect your fire extinguishers from tampering or damage, which can be purchased from LaForce.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is no more than 75 feet of distance between extinguishers. Kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and tops of stairwells are all important fire extinguisher locations. It is also important that the fuel classification on the fire extinguisher should match the materials and hazards in the location surrounding the fire extinguisher.
How often should you inspect or replace your fire extinguishers for commercial properties?
A visual fire extinguisher inspection should be done monthly by the person who owns or occupies the commercial building. You should keep a record of all inspections on file or on a tag attached to the fire extinguisher, including the date of the inspections and initials of the person inspecting it. During monthly inspections, you should make sure the extinguisher:
• Is located in its designated place
• Is unobstructed and visible
• Is stored with operating instructions
• Has safety seals and tamper indicators that are not broken or missing
• Is full as determined by weight
• Is free from obvious physical damage, corrosion, leaks, or clogged nozzles
• Has a pressure gauge in the correct range
• Has operable accessories including tires, wheels, carriages, hoses, and/or nozzles
• Has an inspection label or tag
If your fire extinguisher does not pass any of the above items, it should be corrected, replaced, or returned to the manufacturer and a replacement fire extinguisher should be installed immediately.
A trained individual should conduct a fire extinguisher inspection once a year. Our experts recommend getting your fire extinguishers inspected with your annual fire alarm system or sprinkler inspection. For most common extinguishers (class A, B, and C fires), an internal inspection should be done every 6 years and a hydrostatic (pressurized water test) should be done every 12 years. Inspected fire extinguishers should have a “Verification of Service” collar and a tag indicating the date of maintenance and the initials of the inspector. Fire extinguishers should also be maintained or disposed of after use.
LaForce offers a variety of products and services to help with your project needs. Our building specialties experts can supply your facility with Division 10 products ranging from fire extinguishers to bathroom partitions to hand sanitizer dispensers. Contact us today!