How many fire extinguishers should a workplace have?

Fire extinguishers are essential in every building no matter what kind of work takes place there. When considering where they go and how many you need, the NFPA 10 regulation specifically states that fire extinguishers should be placed in spots that easily accessible and visible in case of an emergency. For example, they can be placed along a regularly traversed pathway in the office or along a marked pathway in a warehouse.

Types of Extinguishers

The first thing to know about fire extinguishers is that there are several types that are used in different situations.

  • Class A Extinguishers are used on regular combustibles like wood and paper.
  • Class B Extinguishers are for flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, or grease.
  • Class C Extinguishers are only used for energized electrical fires related to equipment
  • Class D Extinguishers are used for flammable metals like lithium or magnesium.
  • Class K Extinguishers are required where there are combustible cooking materials in kitchens.

Each type of fire extinguisher has its own requirements for placement as well as the required number to be used. These details can be found in the NFPA 10 standard for portable fire extinguishers.

Choosing a Fire Extinguisher

To determine how many fire extinguishers are needed in any facility it greatly depends on these five details.

  • The size of the facility
    • This will be the determining factor of how many fire extinguishers you would need in any facility. To give an example for a class A extinguisher, you will need to know the square footage that the fire extinguisher can manage (there are different sizes) as well as the square footage of the building.
    • To calculate the number of extinguishers that you would need divide the square footage of the building by the number of square feet that the fire extinguisher can handle.
  • The layout of the room
    • The NFPA states that there should not be more than 75 feet between fire extinguishers.
  • The fire hazard level of the building
    • Is there a light fire hazard, ordinary fire hazard (class 1 or 2), an extra fire hazard (class 1 or 2), or does the building include a commercial kitchen?
  • If there are any flammable liquids around
    • OSHA standards dictate that if flammable liquids or gases are stored in more than 5-gallon containers then there must be at the minimum a 10B rated fire extinguisher within 50 feet of the substance.
  • The presence of stairwells
    • There must at least one fire extinguisher across from stairwells in multiple-level facilities.

Like any safety regulation, looking into these facts is extremely important when outfitting your facility since fire extinguishers can be life savers in emergencies.

 

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