Which Fire Extinguisher Best Fits Your Business’s Needs?
Sure, it’s the law that you have fire extinguishers in buildings, but when it comes to this vitally important tool, it’s important to know what type, size and quantity will best fit your building’s needs.
After all, there may come a time when that extinguisher is all that stands between your building and its occupants and destruction.
Below, we will guide you through some things you should consider when you’re looking for the right fire extinguishers to supply in your building.
Fire Extinguisher Type
Before we even begin discussing weight and sizes, you must first decide which type of extinguisher is appropriate for your building. When doing this, keep in mind what possible hazards will be present in your building depending on your industry.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) classifies extinguishers into five categories based on what kind of fire they would be used for. These categories are:
- Class A – Ordinary fires, including burning wood, cloth, paper and plastic
- Class B – Flammable liquid fires, including burning gasoline, oil, propane and kerosene
- Class C – Electrical fires, where a short circuit or overloaded electrical outlet sets fire to nearby combustible items
- Class D – Flammable metal fires, including sodium, potassium, titanium and magnesium (usually found in chemical laboratories and industrial plants)
- Class K – Kitchen fires, where grease or hot oils catch fire while cooking
The ABC Multipurpose fire extinguisher is the most popular and is found in the majority of homes, businesses, restaurants, schools, stores and more. This fire extinguisher combines classes A, B and C in one device.
There are also two different kinds of fire extinguishers based on how it operates: stored pressure and cartridge operated. The difference between the two are:
- Stored Pressure: The agent and pressure are mixed in the same container inside the extinguisher.
- Cartridge Operated: The agent is the only thing inside the container, and a separate pressure cartridge needs to be activated to pressurize.
Stored pressure extinguishers are what you will find in most residential and commercial buildings. However, a cartridge operated extinguisher not only has fewer accidental discharges because of the extra step, but it also does better in low temperatures or places that experience adverse conditions.
Once you know what classification you need based on your industry, you need to make a decision on the size of your fire extinguishers.
As logic would have it, larger extinguishers can extinguish larger fires. The size of an extinguisher is determined by looking at its water equivalency, the square footage the extinguisher can cover and what kind of fire it is recommended for.
A common size you will find in public buildings is 2A:10B:C. To interpret an extinguisher’s size, use these guidelines:
- Class A size ratings range from 1 to 40. This tells you the water equivalency. One equals 1¼ gallons of water, so in this example, 2A means the extinguisher can put out a fire just as effectively as 2½ gallons of water.
- Class B size ratings range from 1 to 640. This number estimates the square footage an extinguisher can cover. In the above example, 10B indicates that you can expect to douse a fire that had spread to cover 10 square feet.
- There are no numeric size ratings for fighting Class C, D or K fires because these classifications simply indicate that the extinguisher is recommended for, in order, fighting electrical fires, flammable metal fires or kitchen fires.
What to Expect from a Fire Safety Inspection
Once you have your extinguishers installed, they are subject to annual inspections to make sure they are in proper working order in case of an emergency.
Your inspections may vary depending on what size or type of extinguishers you have installed, however inspections typically involve:
- Checking the exterior of the extinguisher for damage or corrosion
- Checking the hose for signs of obstruction
- Checking gauges to confirm that the pressure is in an acceptable range
- Removing the pull-pin for examination and then replacing
- Placing a new tamper seal with current year
- Replacing the inspection tag with a current tag
- Placing the extinguisher back in its bracket
Commercial properties in the state of Texas must have their fire extinguishers inspected once a year. The tag on the extinguisher will let you know when that year is up and when it’s time to get them looked at.
It cannot be overemphasized that taking time to choose the best fire extinguisher for your needs not only will save lives but protect the investment you’ve made in your business.
Still not sure which direction to go? Let our experts at iProtection Systems guide you in this huge decision.
Our team will get to understand your business and potential hazards that may be involved and then help you make an informed decision on which fire extinguisher is right for you.
Contact us today for a consultation!