Fire Extinguishers: Keeping Your Business Safe

Safety is key no matter where you are: home, at work, or at play. Accidents happen and it’s best to be prepared. Fire extinguishers play a key role in this safe state of mind. When used as directed, they can control, reduce, or eliminate small fires. As a matter of fact, fire extinguishers are required by law in most areas. Keep in mind that they have an expiration date that must be adhered to ensuring their effectiveness. An annual test or review of the extinguisher is recommended and may even be required depending whether it is used in public or private settings.

OSHA Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have set national standards for fire extinguisher use for businesses. The type of extinguisher depends on the type and size of fire that has the potential for occurring in that space. They must be kept throughout the building or vehicle in an area that is readily accessible. The following rules have been set in place for 5 classes of fire potential:

Class A – This includes combustible material, such as paper, wood, or clothing. They are the types of items that can be found in most environments without other hazardous material present. There must be one designated extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet with one easily accessible within a travel distance of 75 feet.

Class B – This includes flammable liquids and gas. The type of extinguisher required depends of the combustibility of the substance. See the OSHA website for details. These extinguishers must be placed within a travel distance of 50 feet.

Class C – This includes materials that have the potential for an electrical fire. The requirement follows the standards set forth in Classes A and B.

Class D – This includes materials that generate metal powders, shavings, and any other similar metal combustible. A Class D fire extinguisher must be placed within 75 feet of the potential hazard.

Class K – This includes cooking oils, fats, and grease. A Class K extinguisher must be placed within 30 feet of all potential hazards.

It is best to keep your extinguishers safely secured where they are not to be moved and possibly damaged. Fire extinguisher cabinets and wall brackets are the most common ways to secure them. Either way, you must ensure that the carrying handle is facing up and between three to five feet off the floor depending on the size of the model. A properly mounted, up-to-date extinguisher can save the lives of your family, employees, and business.