By Robb Slawski
Place extinguishers so that you have a clear path to the exit.
Fire extinguishers can be an effective tool, but only when you select the correct type for your needs; install them in the most effective locations; and learn the proper way to use them. This three-part series covers the basics of fire extinguishers.
Part 2 of 3 –
Fire extinguishers are a critical component of your building’s overall fire protection system. With properly trained personnel and correctly placed and maintained extinguishers, these devices can suppress a fire in the early stages.
Fire extinguisher servicing contractors can advise you about placement and maintenance of extinguishers, but it’s beneficial to understand the basics.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER DISTRIBUTION
Extinguishers should be:
- located along the normal travel paths in your facility, including exit paths
- highly visibility
- easily accessible
- available for immediate use
Maximum travel distances to Class A or D extinguishers should not exceed 75 feet; Class B, 50 feet; and Class K, 30 feet. Maximum travel distances to Class C extinguishers, for electrical devices, should be no greater than for the same hazards (Class A or B) without electricity. Certain circumstances may require shorter travel distances; your fire extinguisher servicing contractor can advise you.
INSTALLATION OF PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
For the A rating, 1A is equal to one gallon of water being distributed from the unit. Class A hazard extinguishers are rated per A unit, 1A to 40A, and can protect a maximum floor area per unit. For a light hazard (office exposure), the floor area is 3,000 square feet; an ordinary hazard (retail store, light manufacturing), 1,500; and for extra hazard (car repair, wood working, spray painting or coating), 1,000. The maximum floor area of any extinguisher regardless of the A rating is 11,250 square feet.
For the B rating, 1B is equal to an actual fire test conducted with the extinguisher on one square foot of a burning liquid, one-quarter inch deep. Class B hazard extinguishers are rated per B unit, 5B to 80B, but do not have a maximum floor area per extinguisher.
Class C extinguishers are required for energized electrical equipment. They are classified as an A or B hazard, so they should be sized and located based on that designation.
Class D extinguishers are for fires involving combustible metals. The size of the unit is based on the specific combustible metal present, its physical particle size, the area to be covered and recommendations from the extinguisher manufacturer.
Class K extinguishers are designed …read more
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