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Business Protection Bulletin

Fire Extinguishers – when to replace them and how to locate them

By June 3, 2014No Comments

Your maintenance schedule should include annual fire extinguisher checks and replacements. Since you check your smoke detectors monthly, you can split the building into four fire zones and service one zone per quarter if budgeting is an issue.

Contract a professional service to check and recharge fire extinguishers. Currently, the market for new units is very low and replacement can be very cost effective.

Obviously, you want to place fire extinguishers near and handy to likely ignition sources, for example cooking tops or welding areas. Here’s a few more tips to make your work space safer:

1. Think in terms of space. A fire extinguisher every 40 feet means that each extinguisher covers about one thousand two hundred square feet of space and you never need to move more than twenty feet to get one. Most codes require no more than either fifty or seventy five feet travel distance.

2. Fire extinguishers have two main uses. Either putting out small fires before they spread (trash can fires), or opening a pathway to an exit. The latter reason implies you don’t want to exhaust the supply of extinguishers.

3. Many spaces place fire extinguishers next to exit doors. Use the door instead and get out. Place the fire extinguisher on a wall within ten feet of the door to allow for use on debris blocking the door.

4. Hang arrow signs above the fire extinguishers to locate them easily. There’s no time to search when you need one.

5. Install the extinguishers at chest height for easy handling and lifting. Do not force people to bend to retrieve a fire extinguisher. Build your system for quick and easy response.

6. If you can’t fight the fire with one fire extinguisher, leave the building.

Remember, emergency equipment must be easy to find and in good working order. When you need it, it’s too late for maintenance. And, do yourself a favor, have too many fire extinguishers rather than too few.