FAQ on Fire Extinguishers asked by Building Owners and Tenants.

Building owners and tenants have many questions regarding portable fire extinguishers. Here are some of the most common questions and answers to help provide you with the insights you need.

Q. Do I have enough fire extinguishers?

A. During a fire emergency, someone will need to walk away from the fire, retrieve the extinguisher and then return to the fire to begin extinguishing it. That takes time. The number of seconds it takes to get the extinguisher and put out a fire depends largely on the spacing and placements of the extinguishers. The number of extinguishers and the spacing of those extinguishers is required to comply with the national standard, NFPA 10, and has to be approved by the local authorities in that jurisdiction. Extinguisher service companies have received special training for selection and distribution of fire extinguishers.

Q. How are fire extinguisher locations determined?

A. Although the overall goal is uniform distribution, there are several preferred locations to place a fire extinguisher. Extinguishers are always installed near entrance and exits doors. Additional extinguishers are provided along normal paths of travel, leaving them readily available in the event of a fire emergency.

Q. Do I need to make sure I’ve got the right fire extinguisher before I use it?

A. Generally speaking, each extinguisher matches the types of material that can burn in the area. When the right extinguisher has been installed and is regularly serviced, it can be used on a fire in the immediate vicinity of its location.

Q. If I pick up a fire extinguisher, will it go off?

A. Nobody should be afraid to pick up an extinguisher by the handle. There is a pin in the handle that keeps the extinguisher from being discharged. When there’s a fire, the operator pulls the pin and squeezes the lever and handle together to discharge the contents of the extinguisher on a fire.

Q. What do I do if a fire extinguisher is damaged or the gauge needle is in the red area?

A. Call your extinguisher company. The extinguisher needs to be serviced or replaced.

Q. Why are there signs with the words “FIRE EXTINGUISHER” right by the extinguishers?

A. In fire emergencies, people look for exits and fire extinguishers. The signs are there to help locate them quickly.

Q. Is it okay to have a fire extinguisher sitting on the floor?

A. Every extinguisher is required to be installed on a special hanger or bracket, in an extinguisher cabinet or in a specially designed wall recess. If an extinguisher is found on a floor, an extinguisher company should be called to properly mount it.

Q. Do fire extinguishers need to be checked every month?

A. Insurance companies and fire inspectors expect extinguishers to be checked every month. A trained technician from an extinguisher company will know the problems to look for during those monthly checks.

Although most building owners and tenants know the importance of using portable fire extinguishers during the early stage of fires, they may not be able to answer all of these questions. Consider sharing this knowledge with others and see if there are any additional services that you can provide them to help make their buildings fire safe.