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Placement and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

maintenance of fire extinguishersSo you’ve completed a hazard analysis of the types of combustible materials you have in your workplace, and you’ve determined which fire extinguishers you need.

But the next question is where should you install these extinguishers exactly? And what do you need to do to maintain them?

Placement of Fire Extinguishers

As you might expect, the general rule is to place fire extinguishers within easy reach of employees. After all, the faster you can get to and use a fire extinguisher, the easier it will be to put out the fire.

More specifically, placement of fire extinguishers depends on the types of combustible materials in your workplace. And OSHA standards describe exactly how close you must place fire extinguishers to different kinds of combustibles.

Class A Fires

  • Common fire locations: Offices and classrooms.
  • Combustibles: Wood, paper, trash and anything that produces ash when burned.
  • Preferred extinguishing agent: Water.
  • OSHA standard for fire extinguisher placement: A travel distance of 75 feet or less.

Note that Class A fire combustible material may not require the installation of fire extinguishers if a sprinkler system is installed. Check OSHA standard CFR 1910.157 for more details.

Class B Fires

  • Common fire locations: Workshops, storage areas, garages, warehouses and manufacturing areas.
  • Combustibles: Flammable or combustible liquids such as oil and gas.
  • Preferred extinguishing agent: Various smothering agents.
  • OSHA standard for fire extinguisher placement: A travel distance of 50 feet or less.

Class C Fires

  • Common fire locations: Anywhere energized electrical equipment is used.
  • Combustibles: Class A or Class B combustible material.
  • Preferred extinguishing agent: Water for Class A combustibles. Smothering agents for Class B combustibles.
  • OSHA standard for fire extinguisher placement: Same as Class A or Class B placement, depending on combustibles present.

Class D Fires

  • Common fire locations: Anywhere combustible metal powders, flakes, shavings or similar material is generated.
  • Combustibles: Metal.
  • Preferred extinguishing agent: Various dry powder smothering agents.
  • OSHA standard for fire extinguisher placement: A travel distance of 75 feet or less.

Class K Fires

  • Common fire locations: Kitchens.
  • Combustibles: Vegetable or animal oil.
  • Preferred extinguishing agent: Various smothering agents.
  • OSHA standard for fire extinguisher placement: A travel distance of 30 feet or less.

For more information on placement, see OSHA standard for portable fire extinguishers 29 CFR 1910.157 and the OSHA web page on extinguisher placement and spacing.

Also, before installing, make sure you’re compliant with any other codes that might apply, such as state or municipal fire codes and NFPA codes.

Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

Naturally, correct placement of fire extinguishers won’t help if the extinguishers aren’t maintained and ready to use when needed.

OSHA standards require workplaces to inspect fire extinguishers are least once every month. Each extinguisher must be in the right place, clearly visible and accessible to employees. Operating instructions must also be visible and legible.

Extinguishers should be fully charged with the pin and tamper seal intact. They must show no signs of damage, corrosion or leakage. In addition, dry powder extinguishers should be gently rocked—in accordance with manufacturer instructions—to make sure the powder is not compacted.

Fire extinguisher inspection checklists can help facilitate monthly inspections. As an example, the CDC has a fire extinguisher inspection checklist designed for schools.

Fire Extinguishers at Select Safety Sales

At Select Safety Sales, we stock fire extinguishers for all kinds of fires, including ABC, BC, and CO2. We also carry water fire extinguishers (for Class A fires) as well as mariner fire extinguishers.

Need help selecting the right fire extinguishers for your workplace? Call or email our safety experts: (866) 864-3495 or sales@selectsafetysales.com. You can also get us through our website’s chat function—we’re online most of the day!

 

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