Are Your Building’s Fire Extinguishers Easily Accessible?
A comprehensive fire safety program for your commercial facility includes fast, easy access to plenty of portable fire extinguishers. If a fire breaks out, the ability to immediately find and use a fire extinguisher could stop the spread of a fire and prevent serious injuries or damage. Easy accessibility depends on putting a sufficient number of extinguishers at appropriate places to allow quick deployment in an emergency. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes guidelines on how to make fire extinguishers easily accessible throughout your commercial building. Here is a brief summary of those guidelines and what they mean to your fire safety program.
Mounting and Placement
OSHA indicates that fire extinguishers should be mounted on sturdy brackets attached to the wall or placed in specialized cabinets designed to hold extinguishers. The placement should ensure that the carrying handle should be 3 1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. This height will make them easy to reach by individuals of most average heights. Larger extinguishers should be mounted with the carrying handle approximately 3 feet from the floor.
Training and Education
Employees should be given training on the basic concepts of fire extinguisher use and what to do in the case of a fire. Some businesses may choose to designate selected individuals as fire safety representatives who receive additional training and education on what to do in case of fires. Employees should be given occasional refresher training on fire safety and extinguisher use. Consult with state, local, or federal fire safety officials and your facilities safety manager for specific requirements.
Distribution and Fire Types
Local, state, and federal regulations will require the installation of several fire extinguishers based on the kinds of activities that occur in the facility and the type of fires the extinguishers are designed to fight. These extinguishers must be placed at certain intervals throughout the building, also based on the type of fire the extinguishers will work against.
- Class A: Class A fires are probably the most common type. They involve fires fueled by common combustibles such as paper, cardboard, fabric, and plastic. There should be one 2-A fire extinguishers for every 3,000 square feet of your facility. Extinguishers should be placed so that there is an extinguisher available within 75 feet of any location within your building.
- Class B: Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as fuels, solvents, or other volatile fluids. These types of liquids are usually found in manufacturing areas, garages, warehouses, workshops, research labs, and service areas. Extinguisher type and spacing depend on the severity of the hazard posed by the flammable liquids. Low hazards involving a small amount of liquids require a 5-B extinguisher every 30 feet or a 10-B extinguisher every 50 feet. Moderate hazards require a 10-B extinguisher every 30 feet or a 20-B extinguishers every 50 feet. High-level hazards require a 40-B extinguisher every 30 feet or an 80-B extinguishers every 50 feet.
- Class C: Class C extinguishers are used against electrical fires. Their placement follows the same standards as those for Class A and Class B extinguishers.
- Class D: Class D extinguishers are used in areas where combustible metal powders, shavings, flakes, or similar materials are generated at least once very two weeks. These extinguishers should be mounted not more than 75 feet from the source of the metal particles.
- Class K: Class K extinguishers are designed for use in kitchens, restaurants, and other areas where cooking fires could occur. Class K materials are usually cooking oils and fats. Extinguishers should be placed at a travel distance of no more than 30 feet from any location within the area.
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