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How to Pick the Right Fire Extinguisher

Fire can be devastating to your enterprise, causing severe property damage, and perhaps even causing injury or death to clients or employees. By choosing and using fire extinguishers properly, you can reduce these risks.

For businesses, a simple multi-purpose fire extinguisher is normally enough. These fire extinguishers are readily available across Ontario and smother the flames of class A, B, and C fires with pressurized powder.

A pressurized water fire extinguisher is a good choice for situations that could potentially involve a class A fire. A water extinguisher must never be used on a class B or C fire. Always place it away from flammable liquids and electrical equipment to avoid personal injury and increasing the spread of the fire.

Both class A and B fires can be smothered by an AFFF chemical foam fire extinguisher, making it a good choice for kitchens, as long as you avoid appliances.

Compressed gas fire extinguishers, containing carbon dioxide or halon, also smother flames. Pick this type of fire extinguisher if you are dealing with class B (flammable liquids) or class C (electrical equipment) environments.

No matter what kind of fire extinguisher you choose, it’s important to perform monthly maintenance checks. The pressure gauge should always be in the green zone. If the needle has drifted into the red zone on either side of the green, it’s time to have the fire extinguisher replaced or repaired.

Before purchasing a fire extinguisher for your business familiarize yourself with the different types of fire extinguishers available and know the types of potential fires in your building.

Below are four different things to consider when buying a fire extinguisher

Type

Reading the label on a fire extinguisher will help you know what type of fire it’s suited for. For example, Type A extinguishers are manufactured to deal with ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, or trash. Type B extinguishers are especially formulated to put out liquid flammables, such as grease. And Type C extinguishers work best on electrical equipment fires.

Classification

The classification (or rating) shows the size of fire the unit might be expected to control, according to laboratory tests. The higher the classification, the greater the extinguishing capacity of the unit. If an extinguisher is classified as 4A, for example, it can be expected to extinguish a Type A fire twice as large as a 2A-rated extinguisher can. So don’t depend merely on size to determine the ability of the extinguisher.

Size of Extinguisher

Extinguisher size is shown on the label in either pounds of dry chemical or gallons of liquid contained in the unit.

Strategic Placement

You should mount extinguishers in obvious places, near exits or escape routes. Never mount an extinguisher near a potential fire hazard. Make sure the extinguisher is easy to access; the bracket should be mounted approximately four feet from the floor.

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