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A Guide to Sizing Your Fire Extinguisher

Posted on: September 29, 2016

When it comes to installing portable fire extinguishers in your business, you have many factors to consider, including what type you need and where to install each canister. ABC fire extinguishers, which are the most common type, are effective against Class A (ordinary fires), Class B (flammable fuel fires), and Class C (electrical fires). Class D fire extinguishers are needed in industrial facilities where ignitable metals are present, and Class K extinguishers are required to fight grease fires in commercial kitchens. The minimum walking distance between fire extinguishers depends on the fire threat level in your business.

In addition to choosing the right type and installing your fire extinguishers correctly, you also need to consider fire extinguisher capacity. Here’s a concise guide to help you size a fire extinguisher correctly.

Learn How to Read the Label

Portable fire extinguishers are rated for the size of fire they can put out. For Class A fire extinguishers, this number ranges from 1 to 40, and for Class B, the rating is from 1 to 640. You can find this rating on the label.

2A:10B:C is the label you’ll find on a standard 5-lb ABC fire extinguisher. Note that the Class C rating isn’t accompanied by a number. The letter simply indicates that the extinguisher is rated to put out electrical fires.

Consider the Size of the Room

For a room of average dimension, a 5-lb fire extinguisher may be sufficient. For larger commercial spaces and warehouses where a fire has more room to spread, a larger 10-lb model may be necessary.

Think About the Physical Capabilities of Your Employees

Most people have no difficulty lifting and operating a 5-lb-capacity fire extinguisher. However, the 10-lb model may be difficult for some. If you feel you need the firefighting power of a larger canister, but you’re worried about the greater weight, consider installing two smaller extinguishers side by side. Then the second canister can be used in a fire emergency if one isn’t enough to douse the blaze.

Choose the Right Fire Extinguishers in DC, MD & VA

Clearly, sizing a fire extinguisher isn’t an exact science. For further help selecting and installing the right type, size and number of fire extinguishers for your business, please contact Guardian Fire Protection. We have over 30 years of experience helping Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia business owners achieve optimal fire safety and code compliance.

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