“…portable or movable apparatus used to put out a small fire by directing onto it a substance that cools the burning material, deprives the flame of oxygen, or interferes with the chemical reactions occurring in the flame.”
Because of their portable nature, the majority of fire extinguishers consist of small tanks featuring a nozzle that allows the compressed substance within the tank to pass through when the handle is squeezed.
There are seven fire extinguishers distinguished by the substance within the tank:
· Water extinguishers
· Carbon-dioxide extinguishers
· Dry chemical extinguishers
· Liquid gas extinguishers
· Chemical foam extinguishers
· Dry powder extinguishers
· Wet chemical extinguishers
You may be wondering why there are so many different types of fire extinguishers.
Well, in order to best answer this question, we would need to first explain the five classes of fire that exist.
The 5 Classes of Fires
Fire isn’t equal and it’s important to understand this because it determines which fire extinguisher you’re going to use to put out the fire.
Fire is classified into five categories depending on the material that’s alight or the substance that is burning.
Class A Fires: For a fire to be characterized as Class A, the following materials are involved: cloth, rubber, paper, plastics, and wood
Class B Fires: For a fire to be characterized as Class B, the following substances are the main culprits: gas, lacquer, oil, paint
Class C Fires: For a fire to be classified as Class C, the source of the fire is generally electrical in nature involving appliances, motors, power tools etc.
Class D Fires: Occur when combustible metals are involved. Examples of such metals are sodium, magnesium, potassium, and titanium
Class K Fires: These types of fires involve combustible oils, grease or fats that are used in cooking
Now that we’re familiar with the different fire classes, we can appreciate the types of fire extinguishers that exist and the following fire extinguisher tips.
Water-Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class A fires, have a long-range and empty within 60 seconds.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B and C fires, have a short-range, empties within 10 to 20 seconds.
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B, C, and some Class A fires. Have a moderate range and empties within 10 to 25 seconds.
Liquid Gas Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B, C, and some Class A fires. Have short-range and empties in 10 seconds.
Chemical Foam Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class A and B fires. Have a moderate range and empties in 10 to 30 seconds.
Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class D fires.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class K fires.
Fire Extinguishers for your Business and or Home
So, coming full circle to our original question, “What fire extinguisher is ideal for your business?” we’re going to answer this with a few examples.
Looking at the different types of fire extinguishers that exist we can clearly see that the correct fire extinguisher for your business depends on the type of business you have.
For example, if you’re operating a commercial kitchen (a restaurant or a fast food outlet), you run a high risk for cooking oil fires or grease fires. Therefore, Class K wet chemical fire extinguishers should form the bulk of fire extinguishers on your premises.
If your business is pharmaceutical, laboratory-based or manufacturing in nature, you’re going to want carbon dioxide fire extinguishers that can put out Class B and C fires.
For industrial sites that are at high risk of Class D fires because of flammable metals, sodium chloride fire extinguishers should be the mainstay.
Paper mills, libraries, clothing shops, woodworks, and businesses dealing with plastics and rubber would do well to install fire extinguishers designed to put out Class A fires.
So, selecting a fire extinguisher for your business is largely based on consideration of the nature of your business and the associated fire risks.
Are you looking for fire and life safety solutions in Waterloo, Ontario?
Would you like to discuss fire extinguisher options for your business as well as best practices for fire prevention for home?
Then look no further than All Protect Systems, specialists in the service, installation, and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, emergency backup generator, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems.
Understanding fire safety practices is crucial to protecting your workplace and home.
Every year, thousands of businesses and residential properties are destroyed by fires that could have been easily prevented. You don’t have to become a statistic.
Whether you’re about to build or already have your premises, these fire safety practices are worth knowing about.
In fact, by following these five basic fire safety practices you dramatically reduce fire threats. That’s why educating yourself and being proactive in fire safety is so important.
So what are these fire safety practices you need to be aware of?
Let’s get started.
Fire Safety Practice #1 Measures Adopted During the Building’s Design Phase
Contrary to popular belief, fire safety does not begin with the installation of fire prevention systems.
Fire safety is an inbuilt function that’s conceptualized during the design phase of the building. And thanks to the National Building Code, OSHA standards, and provincial Fire Codes, you can be assured of the fire integrity of contemporary buildings.
This primordial fire safety practice takes into consideration the building’s design aspects. The types of materials used in construction in conjunction with the construction style. Each element is carefully considered as architects ask questions such as:
· How well can this material prevent the spread of fire?
· Does this building design encourage the fire to spread?
· Can smoke be trapped in the building if we use these materials?
The second fire practice is closely linked to this first one and has to do with the measures adopted during the construction phase.
Fire Safety Practice #2 Measures integrated during the construction of the building phase
Modern buildings are constructed to meet an acceptable standard of fire safety while reducing associated risks from smoke and heat.
The goal of the fire prevention measures integrated during the construction phase is to mitigate the risk of injury or death of workers, building occupants and firefighters in the event of a fire.
As such, designers and building contractors, have a responsibility to ensure that:
· All building designs incorporate a sufficient number of fire escape routes
· All buildings are furnished with appropriate fire doors and fire barriers
· Premises are designed with fire separation compartmentalization in mind
· Evacuees have protected areas to flee to in the event of a fire
And what happens when the building is now ready for use?
Fire Safety Practice #3 Measures put in place to prevent ignition of substances
When a building is ready for use, there are still protocols that must be adhered to in order to prevent fire risk. We’re referring here to the storage of combustible materials and the safeguarding of potential ignition sources.
Where combustible materials are concerned, care must be followed in terms of:
· Ensuring the quantities of flammable materials kept on-site do not exceed the maximum allowed capacities as regulated by law
· Making sure combustible materials are stored correctly especially volatile substances such as oxygen cylinders, gases, and flammable liquids
· Clearing rubbish, removing it periodically and not allowing it to accumulate on-site
For ignition sources, attention must be paid to:
· Reduce, eliminate and control all possible ignition sources which are on the premises.
· Plant equipment inclusive of electrical machinery and or engines which should be monitored and not allowed to overheat
· Employees who smoke making provision for them and creating smoking-specific areas for them
Fire Safety Practice #4 Measures put in place to limit the development and effects of fire
Fire safety practices also include the measures designed to limit the development of fire, slow the spread of fire and draw attention to a fire when it breaks out. We can talk about fire doors, fire alarm systems as well as sprinklers.
Fire doors are particularly important as they play several roles. Firstly, they help to contain a fire stopping it from spreading to other areas of the building. Furthermore, they can also be used to protect escape routes along stairs and corridors.
Lastly, sprinkler systems. These fire safety systems are meant to extinguish fires in their early stages as well as control any incidental occurrences. They also help to significantly reduce the potential losses suffered in the event of a fire.
Fire Safety Practice #5 Measures taught to occupants of the building
The aforementioned fire safety practices are great but there’s one final element that must be discussed – fire safety plans.
It doesn’t matter how many fire exits you have or how carefully the escape routes have been designed if the building occupants haven’t been taught the fire safety plan.
You see, the fire safety plan is the document that contains all these fire safety practices as well as information on how to evacuate the building.
It’s not a document that is simply created and tossed somewhere in the back. It’s one that must be known by each employee so they know how to escape, protect themselves, and alert fire authorities if a fire occurs.
Knowing these fire safety practices allows you to make the necessary adjustments needed to improve your surroundings.
These fire safety practices may not be the easiest to implement – but when taken seriously and acted upon – they can take your home and or business fire safety up by several notches.
Using these practices can boost your fire prevention efforts.
For homeowners and businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss fire safety best practices with a specialist don’t hesitate to reach out to All Protect Systems.
We offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
The Ontario Fire Code determines the quantity and type of fire extinguishers your building needs, and they base their requirements on the type of building you have. Derived from the International Fire Code and the California Fire Code, the Ontario Fire Code added a few amendments to come up with its own code for the city of Ontario. The Ontario Fire Marshal uses it to regulate the quantity and placement of portable fire extinguishers in commercial buildings.
While the Fire Marshal had to approve your fire safety protection systems before a certificate of occupancy could be issued, building uses and functions change over time. Those changes can often result in new requirements for the type, location, and quantity of your fire extinguishers. If you’re looking for expert and personalized advice, All Protect Systems, Inc. has been helping Ontario area businesses with their fire extinguisher needs since 1996.
Type of Building
The Ontario Fire Marshal determines the quantity and placement of your fire extinguishers based on several factors dictated by The Ontario Fire Code. The code specifies fire extinguisher requirements based on a building’s hazard classification level. The code breaks building hazard levels into the following categories:
Light (Low) Hazard. For buildings that house a low amount of Class A combustible material, the hazard level is considered low. Low hazard buildings can be offices, classrooms, assembly halls, or churches as long as the majority of their contents are either non-combustible or arranged so a fire isn’t likely to spread. However, small amounts of Class B flammables, such as printing materials for copy machines, are permitted as long as they are properly stored.
Fire extinguishers should be installed every 75 feet.
Ordinary (Moderate) Hazard. Moderate hazard buildings have greater amounts of Class A combustible material and Class B flammables than light hazard ones. The types of occupancies in this classification include classrooms, offices, allied storage, light manufacturing parking garages, auto showrooms, and warehouses These occupancies could consist of offices, classrooms, mercantile shops, or warehouses housing Class I or II commodities.
Fire extinguishers should be installed every 75 feet.
Extra (High) Hazard. Occupancies that store or use considerably more Class A combustibles and Class B flammables in production. These buildings engage in activities like auto repair, aircraft and boat servicing, manufacturing, flammable liquid handling, and warehousing or storage of Class I and II commodities.
Fire extinguishers should be installed every 50 feet.
Distance From Hazards
The Ontario Fire Code also requires that fire extinguishers be located near fire hazards. Fire hazards are also divided into different categories.
Class A Hazards. Common solid combustible materials such as cloth paper, wood, and certain plastics should have a fire extinguisher within 75 feet.
Class B Hazards. Combustible and flammable liquids like lacquers, oil-based paint, gasoline, and alcohol should have a fire extinguisher within 50 feet.
Class C Hazards. Electrical components or energized equipment that can combust should have a fire extinguisher within either Class A or B hazard distance.
Class D Hazards. Combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, plutonium, lithium, and potassium should have a fire extinguisher within 75 feet.
Commercial Kitchens. When frying with vegetable oils or fats, fire extinguishers should be within 30 feet.
The quantity of fire extinguishers your building needs depends not only on the classification of your building but also on the particular hazards present within your facility, and it can be a daunting task to evaluate all of these considerations on your own. If you prefer to delegate your fire safety issues to professionals, the expert technicians at All Protect Systems can help you with fire alarms, emergency/exit lighting, inspections, gas detection, fire safety plans, and fire hoses. They’re waiting for your call!