Purchasing a fire extinguisher is a very responsible step that fundamentally impacts your enterprise’s fire safety. We rely on the fire extinguishers a lot so much that we believe that in case of unfortunate events they will save our property and lives. However, to be effective, a fire extinguisher has to be used under proper conditions, just like any other tool. These conditions directly depend on the nature of the fire, the size of the burning area or object, etc. Therefore, it is crucial to take these circumstances into account when you are choosing an extinguisher for your business.
In 2007 – 2009 years, 52% of fires that happened across the US occurred in non-residential buildings and areas. Only due to the proper use of fire extinguishers the majority of these ignitions were taken under control or even successfully put out without a fire unit intervention. OSHA has regulations that demand every employer to supply every working area with a proper fire extinguisher. Thus, it should be your utmost priority as a leader of a meaningful and wise enterprise to select a fire extinguisher that will match the needs of your business.
Classes Of Fire Extinguishers
There is five grade classification of fires regarding their nature. At the same time, there are also five classes of fire extinguishers to fight each fire category. Therefore, when choosing a fire extinguisher for your business, you have to take into account every possible cause of a fire that might occur on your premises. Here are the fire classes:
– Class A. Fires that start at the ignition of common materials such as cloth, wood, or paper. These are pretty widespread materials that can be found almost at every business starting from small restaurants and ending with big production enterprises.
– Class B. Fires that start due to the ignition of flammable liquids such as gasoline, grease, oils, and oil-based liquids. These materials are less widespread and more specific for certain businesses such as gas stops or refineries, warehouses, etc. Yet, class B fires might happen in any other enterprise, especially if it is connected to logistics, painting, construction, etc.
– Class C. Fires that involve electrical hardware and equipment or because of the malfunctioning electricity network. Taking into account that modern life is riddled with electric equipment these types of fires can happen in any business, regardless of the industry.
– Class D. Fires that happen due to the ignition of flammable metals or metal particles. This is a very rare and specific type of hazard that happens mainly at industrial sights. However, class D fires also include the ignitions of car batteries, which are not so rare, since lithium is a flammable metal that requires special extinguishing.
– Class K. Fires that start with vegetable and animal oils, including fats used in cooking and frying. Yet another specific class of fire that mostly spreads around dinning and restaurant industry sites.
Which class of fire extinguisher do I need for my business
Despite the strict classification, cases when fire sticks to one class, are pretty rare. The ignition can happen over cloth or paper and then the blazes can spread to electric devices. Besides, the majority of businesses are threatened by various types of hazards which can create a fire of a different nature. Understanding this versatility of fire danger, manufacturers created extinguishers that can respond to different types of fire simultaneously. Thus, ABC fire extinguishers that can fight any of the first three classes of fire exist as a kind of multi-tool of fire safety.
Not every extinguishing agent can be fit to fight every kind of fire, tough. K and D classes of extinguishers exist as a separate category due to the specific features of their chemical agents. Therefore, if you have a restaurant you should consider having one fire extinguisher of the K class for the kitchen to respond to specific fires and one of the ABC class to fight any other fire. Before choosing which class and how many fire extinguishers you might need, consider following this checklist:
– Evaluate every possible threat to fire safety;
– Divide them into groups regarding fire classification;
– Estimate their location over the business territory;
– Identify whether it is possible to react to the fire threat simultaneously with a sole extinguisher;
– Take into account the physical and mental state of your employees who might need to respond to the ignition.
Which size of fire extinguisher do I need for my business?
Generally, every fire extinguisher is marked with numbers that represent the size of fire it can fight. Depending on the class of a fire extinguisher these numbers may vary from 1 to 40, from 1 to 640, and so on. The higher the number the stronger fire it can effectively handle. Also, when choosing an extinguisher’s size you need to take into account the profile, the industry, and the area of your business. According to the NFPA standards, there are different requirements for sizes of extinguishers, say, when you own an office and when you run an industrial warehouse. These standards are divided into three groups:
● Low Hazards. Places where the amount and heat of combustible materials will require less than 1 gal (3.8 L) of an extinguishing agent;
● Medium Hazards. Places where the amount and heat of combustible materials will require from 1 gal to 5 gals (3.8 L to 18.9 L) of an extinguishing agent;
● High Hazards. Places where the amount and heat of combustible materials will require more than 5 gals (18.9 L) of an extinguishing agent.
Where to get a proper fire extinguisher?
Such a serious decision requires not just a simple fulfillment of state requirements but some wise advice from a fire safety professional. They will help you select and purchase proper fire extinguishers that will stand their guard on the safety of your business and the health of your employees.