Have you inspected your fire extinguishers lately?
Are they fully charged, strategically located, accessible, and ready for use? Or, are they covered with dust and hidden in a corner where they create a false sense of security?
Fire extinguishers are often purchased with enthusiasm and then forgotten because they are not needed. It is a good thing that they have not been needed, but they still need proper inspection and maintenance. Not only is this a legal requirement, but ensures they are ready to use if needed! Remember, fire extinguishers are a first line of defense against fire.
Fire extinguishers must be kept accessible and functional to eliminate lost time when they are needed. Inspect your extinguishers monthly to be certain they are charged and in ready to use condition. Annual maintenance inspections are required in accordance with NFPA 10. Other maintenance and inspection requirements are required based on the type of extinguisher. Check the manufacturer owner’s manual for these requirements.
Also, if staff will be expected to use fire extinguishers in an emergency, be sure that they have received training on how to use them correctly.
Do you have the proper Class of extinguisher for the kinds of materials that are most likely to burn in your operation?
The following is a list of the different classes of fires and the recommended fire extinguishers to be used for each. The correlation is very straightforward: Class A fires require Class A extinguishers; Class B fires require Class B extinguishers, etc. Some extinguishers have multiple ratings which makes them usable on different classes of fires. But remember, if you do not know what kind of materials are burning or if you do not have the proper class of extinguisher, do not try to fight the fire; evacuate immediately.
- Class A Fires involve ordinary combustibles such as paper, plastic, rags, and wood. The recommended extinguishers are Class A.
- Class B Fires involve flammable liquids such as oil, grease, gasoline, and paint. The recommended extinguishers are Class B.
- Class C Fires involve electrical equipment such as motors, heaters, and office machines. The recommended extinguishers are Class C.
- Class D Fires involve combustible metals such as magnesium, aluminum, sodium, and potassium. The recommended extinguishers are Class D.
- Class K Fires involve combustible cooking fluids such as oils and fats. The recommended extinguishers are Class K.