A Beginner’s Guide to Where to Install Your Fire Extinguishers for Maximum Protection
All businesses are required by law to offer a safe environment for their employees and customers, even in the most unexpected situations. While there are many measures you can take to protect your people and property from emergencies, one of the most reliable ways is to ensure your building has its greatest defense on-hand: portable, fast-acting fire extinguishers.
According to surveys by the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED), fire extinguishers are among the most effective means of mitigating flames, with a 95% success rate for small fires.
If you own and operate a business in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware, you can’t go without knowing fire extinguisher basics — especially when it comes to where these trusty solutions will live in your building.
Fire Extinguisher Placement 101
Place fire extinguishers where they’re visible and accessible
Since fire extinguishers are the first line of defense against fire outbreaks, have them installed where they’re clearly visible. If there are some unavoidable areas in your building with visual obstructions, you’ll want to use lights, signs, or arrows to help specify where the extinguishers are and easily catch the attention of personnel during an emergency.
In addition to maximizing their visibility, you also need to ensure your portable fire extinguishers are easily accessible and located along typical points of travel. Examples of some common places to store your fire extinguisher include:
- Commercial kitchens
- Meeting rooms
- Near exit doors
Fires happen fast, and if your extinguishers aren’t within reach, it’s all too easy to watch a small fire become a raging one that wreaks devastating havoc on your business and its people.
Know the maximum travel distance based on the extinguisher type
When a fire breaks out, you may have to step up while waiting for the arrival of your nearest fire department. To avoid being overly burdened during an emergency, you’ll need to consider the distance you’ll have to travel to reach your closest fire extinguisher.
However, it’s important to note that fire extinguishers come in different types, with various placement regulations for each.
Based on the risks they alleviate, there are five fire extinguisher classes:
- Class A for everyday combustible materials, such as paper, cloth, and wood
- Class B for flammable liquids, such as grease, paint, solvents, and oil
- Class C for live electrical items like motors and electrical panels
- Class D for flammable metals, such as aluminum and magnesium
- Class K for commercial cooking items like animal fats, cooking oils, and vegetable oils
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides guidelines on the maximum travel distance for installing various extinguishers from a specific point of interest. These include:
- When installing extinguishers in buildings with Class A and Class D fire hazards, they should maintain a maximum distance of 75 feet or less from any particular point in the building.
- Class B extinguishers must be placed at a maximum travel distance of 30 and 50 feet at any given location, while Class K extinguishers’ travel distance should be 30 feet or less.
- For Class C extinguishers, you should apply Class A or Class B requirements depending on the type of fire risk to ascertain the perfect placement position.
Bearing these NFPA guidelines in mind, you should never have to go beyond the maximum stipulated distance to fetch your extinguishing agent during fire outbreaks in a building.
Consider the weight of your portable fire extinguisher
The weight of your fire extinguishers also influences where you should have them installed for thorough protection against fires.
NFPA offers extinguisher placement guidelines depending on the weight of your equipment:
- For an extinguisher weighing 40 pounds and above, the top can’t be more than 3.5 feet from the ground, while the bottom must not be less than 4 inches off the ground.
- If your extinguisher weighs less than 40 pounds, its top can’t be more than 5 feet from the ground, and its bottom must be at least 4 inches off the ground.
Reliable, Fast-acting Fire Extinguishers From Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection
Depending on your unique industry and building, you’ll have specific requirements for the class and number of fire extinguishers to store in your facility.
At Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection, our highly trained, industry-certified technicians are here to help ensure you’re always following fire safety code, down to where you place your extinguishers for maximum protection.
We service businesses throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and we’re available Monday-Friday at any of our three locations to equip you with the proper equipment for your operations.
Schedule your service today to learn more about safekeeping your business with the help of fire extinguishers.