Are you lost at Walmart? Searching the aisles for fire extinguishers is difficult enough. Locating the correct size, classification, and amount of fire extinguishers for your business is a daunting task. Before you head to a big box store, let us review fire safety standards for businesses.
Regardless of other fire safety measures, such as fire sprinklers or alarms, all commercial buildings shall have fire extinguishers installed as the first line of defense against a fire.
Types of fire extinguishers:
The type and amount of fire extinguishers are determined by the types of fires, size of the fire, hazards in the area, energized electrical equipment, and ambient temperature most likely to occur. So how do you determine these factors? First, look at the different classifications of fires and the materials in those fires. Are they materials present at your business?
Class A fires are made of ordinary combustible materials such as cloth, paper, rubber, wood, and many plastics.
Class B fires are made of combustible or flammable liquids like oils, solvents, alcohols, and petroleum greases.
Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment.
Class D fires include combustible metals, such as zirconium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Class K Fires are cooking fires that occur in appliances that use animal or vegetable oils/fats.
If you have an automobile business that paints cars you most likely would experience Class B fires. A mobile food truck, Class K fires. Do you work in an office building? You might only experience Class A fires, but if there are many computers, you might consider Class C fires as well.
After identifying the types of hazards, you can further determine your need by looking at the number of your hazards. If you mainly have ordinary materials in the office space, you will probably be considered a “light hazard.” This requires you to have less fire protection as you are the least at risk of fire. But, if you contain more furniture than expected or have 1-5 gallons of Class B materials in any one room, you are now considered an “ordinary hazard” and will need more fire protection. The most dangerous rating a business can have is “extra hazard.” Your business may have this rating if you store, ship, or pack many Class A materials and/or have more than 5 gallons of Class B materials in any one room.
The level of hazard helps you identify your needs with the rating on a fire extinguisher. Most businesses will have A:B: C fire extinguishers. This rating indicates the extinguisher will function for Class A, B, and C fires.
To help you identify how many extinguishers you need, grab a tape measure. How large is your business? The rule of thumb is one 2A rated extinguisher per 11,250 square feet. Fire safety is more practical than this. The fire extinguishers can be a maximum of 75 feet travel distance from any point in the business. What’s the travel distance? The walkable or runnable path to the extinguisher. You cannot measure through a desk or decorative display. This allows the user to access the extinguisher quickly and extinguished the fire while it is small. If the math has your head spinning, consult with your local fire equipment dealer. They have specially trained and permitted fire extinguisher personnel. Many fire equipment dealers also have free estimates. Ask when you call, and a permitted technician can come to your business.
Fire suppression system:
A knowledgeable person such as yourself has considered the fire extinguisher needs of their business. This does not mean you have it all covered. If you have an apartment complex, you may need a special water-type extinguisher for your pool room. Why? Dry chemical extinguishers, such as the A:B: C extinguishers will react with chlorine to form a dangerous gas. If you have a deep fryer or cooktop at your restaurant, you will need a Class K extinguisher in addition to a fire suppression system. There are more special hazards. When in doubt, ask a professional.
After dressing up the walls of your business with fire extinguishers, don’t forget to accessorize! Certain types of extinguishers need labeling so that employees or customers can find them. There are also classy exit signs that light up to help you and your customers escape quickly in the event of an uncontrolled fire. Do your fire alarms have batteries? What! You are purchasing fire alarms and smoke detectors right now. I feel safer already.
I imagine you have moved away from Walmart and have called a local fire extinguisher and equipment dealer, like All Florida Fire. In addition to determining your fire safety needs, only licensed equipment dealers can certify the safety of your extinguishers.
It is not enough to have the correct extinguishers. You must inspect them monthly, certify them annually, and when the time comes your business will be protected. Strong work, business owner.