Have you ever wondered what the ABCs and 123s that you see on fire extinguishers mean? The proper term for these letters and numbering is fire extinguisher ratings.
But just what are they and what’s their significance when choosing a fire extinguisher for your business? Keep reading to find out and also to discover our top fire extinguisher tips.
Fire Extinguisher Ratings Explained
If you pick up a fire extinguisher and check its label, you’re going to see letters and numbers in a classification series. The format will look something like this 4A: 80BC
Here’s what you need to know about this rating.
The Underwriters Laboratory of Canada (ULC), a company renowned for its product safety testing, certification and inspection services, is responsible for issuing the ratings you see on fire extinguishers.
After subjecting respective fire extinguishers to a series of tests they accord each canister a rating that earmarks its designated use. And each rating will consist of a combination of letters and numbers.
What do the letters mean?
The letters are used as part of the fire classification system. The letter on the canister identifies which type of fire the fire extinguisher can effectively put out. For example:
Class A Fire Extinguishers smother fires where combustible products like paper, wood, or plastics are involved.
Class B Fire Extinguishers suffocate fires associated with flammable liquids such as oil and gas
Class C Fire Extinguishers extinguish electrical fires
Class D Fire Extinguishers quench fires comprising metals
Class K Fire Extinguishers douse commercial/residential kitchen fires involving grease and fats
What do the numbers mean?
Now that we know that the letters refer to the class of fire the fire extinguisher works best on, what about the numbers? What’s the number rating about?
This rating is best explained by using an example – 4A: 80BC
Let’s break down what this series of letters and numbers are telling us.
The letters are highlighting three classes of fire that can be suppressed – A, B, and C.
The numbernext to the A-rating tells us just how much water is in the canister. The 4 informs us that it contains about 16.5kg (4.5 gallons) of water.
The number (80) in front of the B and C represents the area in square feet that can be covered by the contents of the canister. In this case, this particular fire extinguisher can comfortably extinguish a fire over 80 sq ft.
So to put this all together, if we were to pick up a fire extinguisher labelled 4A: 80BC, we would immediately know from our understating of commercial fire extinguisher ratings the following:
This canister can handle fires involving paper, plastic, textiles, wood, gas, oil, and electrical fires. And that the fire extinguisher contains about 4.5 gallons of water and can effectively clear fire in a space of up to 80 square feet.
Are Ratings Really That Important?
Perhaps you’re asking if ratings are really that important. The short answer is yes, and here’s why.
If you get the rating wrong and select a fire extinguisher that’s not suitable for a specific fire you can worsen the situation.
For example, if you mistakenly opt to douse an electrical fire with a water-based fire extinguisher, the odds of you being electrocuted are very high. This is simply because water is a good conductor of electrical currents.
Similarly, when using powder-based fire extinguishers, these should only be used in outdoor settings because their chemical reactions can make it difficult to breathe if discharged indoors.
As you can see, being aware of ratings is pivotal for effectively extinguishing fires. Knowing the commercial fire extinguisher ratings means you can identify which fire extinguisher will be most suitable for which type of fire.
Now, let’s turn our attention to some fire extinguisher tips.
Best Fire Extinguisher For Your Business
At this point you may wish to know which is the best fire extinguisher for your business or home?
As fire specialists in Ontario, we typically recommend that homeowners should settle for an ABC extinguisher because of its broadspectrum nature. It covers wood, textile, paper, plastic, gas, oil, and electrical fires.
Such extinguishers work by discharging a fine non-toxic powder that suppresses the fire and thus prevents re-ignition.
For restaurants, office buildings, malls, warehouses, manufacturing enterprises and garages we suggest going for Class D and K fire extinguishers.
However, once it grows bigger you should never attempt to extinguish it. Instead, your main priority and that of everyone in the building should be immediate evacuation.
Once everyone is out and has assembled at your chosen meeting place you may proceed to call your local fire department.
Fire Extinguisher Life Expectancy
Do fire extinguishers expire? You may have already checked on the UL label for an expiration date and not seen one.
Generally, fire extinguishers will last you a good 10 to 12 years before you need to replace them. However, they should be regularly serviced to ensure that they are in good working order.
How often should these inspections be? At least once a month the gauge on top of the canister should be assessed to ensure the needle is pointing to the green area.
In the event that you do use the extinguisher or it is damaged for whatever reason, it must be immediately replaced. Checking the state of your fire extinguishers should be part and parcel of your business fire safety routine.
Need Help Choosing Fire Extinguishers for your Business?
Here atAll Protect we pride ourselves on being Hamilton’s leading fire specialists. We help home and business owners chose the most appropriate fire extinguishers for their premises. Get advice about fire extinguisher types and sizes and even a few fire extinguisher tips as well!
That’s not all as we also design custom fire safety plans, conduct on-site routine testing, offer employee fire training, carry out gas detection inspections, and maintenance of fire protection systems such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, emergency lighting, emergency backup generators, and exit lighting.
Emergency exit lighting devices are self-contained battery-powered lighted boxes that indicate exits. They help guide building occupants to the exit during an emergency. Emergency exit lighting must be illuminated at all times while the building is open and have backup power when the main AC power has been disrupted.
Emergency lighting is another life safety system that automatically turns on during an AC power failure, but they illuminate spaces instead of just the sign itself. They must provide sufficient lumination for a long enough period of time to allow the building occupants to finish any potentially dangerous task and exit the building safely.
Emergency exit lighting is one of the cornerstones of life safety. It provides illumination not just during a possible electrical failure from a fire but also when the building loses its primary electrical supply due to bad weather or other maintenance issues. Even longtime employees or residents can become disoriented during an emergency, and emergency exit lights and emergency lighting can make the difference between life and death.
Ontario Fire Code
Several sections of the Ontario Fire Code refer to the requirements of commercial buildings that need to have emergency and exit lighting. Four of the most important ones are included below.
Exit signs must be clean, legible, and clearly visible. They can be illuminated either externally or internally according to the sign’s design while the building is occupied. Exit signs with self-luminous material must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions and any conditions specified under the Building Code.
This section spells out the requirements necessary for the testing of emergency lighting. You must test the pilot lights monthly for operation and inspect the following:
Ensure the terminal connections are clean, corrosion-free, lubricated (if necessary), and tight according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Batteries are clean and dry
Battery electrolyte levels and specific gravity meet the manufacturer’s specifications
You must also test emergency lighting according to the schedule:
Monthly. The lights turn on when you cut the main AC power.
Annually. The lights remain illuminated for the time specified by the system design.
Once the lights have stayed on for the required time limit, you must also test them to make sure the battery’s recovery period is within the manufacturer’s recommendations.
3) Meet Building Codes
Section 9.2.3 states that emergency lighting must adhere to article 220.127.116.11. of the 1986 Building Code and the marking signs for exits and exit access must comply with 3.4.5. of the 1986 Building Code.
4) Section 18.104.22.168
You must install emergency exit lighting in exit stairways, public corridors, or any exit access in buildings with an occupancy load above 24 or have more than 10 dwelling units. This lighting must meet the standards below:
The lights should stay on for at least 30 minutes.
They must have a backup power source separate from the main building’s electrical supply.
The lights should turn on as soon as the main power source has been interrupted.
The lights should provide an average illumination of at least 10 lx at the floor or tread level.
These are just some of the many requirements dictated by the Ontario Fire Code. You can check to see if your emergency and exit lighting is up to code yourself, or you can consult the experts at All Protect Systems.
Fire safety should be a priority for any homeowner or property manager. It is absolutely essential. And, nothing is more key in your fire safety efforts than the fire safety provider you choose to work with. But, with scores of providers in the market, it can be hard trying to find the professional whose a right fit for your property needs.
To facilitate your decision-making process, we’ve written this post. It comprises a list of 12 questions to ask each fire safety provider you’re reviewing.
1: What fire services do you offer?
This is a foundational question as it allows you a chance to get to know the full range of services the provider is offering. Opt for a team that can satisfy your unique needs. Things to inquire about:
2: What accreditations and certifications do you have?
Make sure that the company has the necessary certifications and accreditations. They must also be a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as well as be registered with the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).
A company that can show commitment to ongoing education is also to be highly considered. That’s because you want a company that keeps up to date with the latest in fire safety best practices in Hamilton.
3: How long have you been operational?
Here you’re essentially asking about the provider’s experience. You want to know how long they’ve been in the fire safety industry. Better yet, you should be interested to learn about their successful track record.
4: Is there 24/7 support?
Emergencies can happen at any time on any given day. Therefore, it helps to have a company that offers round-the-clock service. Also, enquire about the best way to contact the provider in the event of an emergency.
5: Can you furnish me with references?
A good fire safety professional will never be short of satisfied clients happy to give a referral. By reaching out to previous clients, you can get a better sense of the service delivery, quality of work, and the provider’s reputation.
6: Do you provide building occupants with fire training?
Whether you’re a homeowner or building manager, it’s necessary to ensure your family or building occupants know what to do in the event of a fire. They must be taught about such fire safety practices like:
Ideally, if the building has a large occupancy, a select group of fire wardens can be chosen to receive the training which they can then filter down to the rest of their colleagues.
They will essentially be responsible for helping everyone safely leave the building in an emergency.
7: Is there a warranty on your fire services and products?
More often than not, fire safety providers will make recommendations for products you should purchase and install. Equipment like fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and smoke detectors.
Prior to making any purchases, first, ask about the warranty on these products and if this guarantee also extends to the services.
If they say there is a warranty, make sure you know what exactly it’s covering.
8: How often do you service your equipment?
A company that has faulty equipment is difficult to rely on. You’re looking for a provider that keeps their equipment in tip-top condition and up-to-date. It must be functioning properly so that when you need help, they’ll be able to respond and help resolve any fire incidents quickly.
9: What’s your average response time during emergencies?
How soon can help arrive when you most need it? The response time is telling. It will show you the window period you have between the moment you realize you have an emergency on your hand, calling the fire safety provider and their arrival on the scene.
10: How do you address customer complaints?
The reason you must ask this question is so you know what to anticipate if you ever have an issue with the fire safety provider. You want a provider that’s both professional and competent. Their customer complaint process must demonstrate both these elements.
11: Are there any promotions or discounts on offer?
This is a good question to ask especially if you intend on making bulk purchases of equipment such as fire-suppressing systems, fire alarms and smoke detectors. If you’re a property manager hiring a fire safety provider for multiple properties, you’ll definitely want to find out if you can negotiate a favourable deal.
12: Can you provide a detailed estimate and proposal?
The last thing you should inquire about is the proposal and the estimate for the services required. You want them to send an itemized invoice showing a breakdown of the costs so you can see exactly what you’re paying for.
The bottom line
When it comes to keeping your property safe in 2023, it pays to have the right fire safety provider working with you. By asking these 12 questions during your review and selection process, you stand a better chance of finding the best provider who meets your needs.
Get in touch with Hamilton’s leading fire safety provider
Homeowners and property managers in Hamilton, Ontario can reach out to Nutech Fire Prevention. Our services are expansive and comprise fire safety training, fire safety recommendations, development of fire safety plans, gas detection, routine checks and maintenance of your fire equipment.
That’s not all we do as we also offer and install a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, and sprinkler systems.
Emergency lighting is foundational as a safety feature within the workplace. It is an essential element in helping people during power outages. By design, its function is to provide illumination when conventional electricity has been cut off and assist employees and customers in safely evacuating the premises.
In this post, we’re going to focus on
· The basics of emergency lighting
· The benefits/advantages of emergency lighting and,
· The key features to look out for.
We’ll also touch on the necessity of routine maintenance and regular testing.
Emergency Lighting Benefits
Advantage #1 Guides people out of a dark building
The main advantage of emergency lighting in the workplace is to help prevent injuries and accidents during an emergency situation.
Events such as natural disasters, fires, and intentional sabotage can result in conventional lighting systems failing, leaving customers and employees stranded in the dark.
As a reactive feature, emergency lighting will become the guide, a source of light, steering people towards an emergency exit and safely out of the building.
Advantage #2 Reduces stress and panic during emergencies
A sudden loss of power can leave many people disoriented, feeling stressed and panicked. Emergency lighting can help assuage some of those feelings.
Because of its ergonomic design, the lighting is bright and easy to follow. This makes it extremely simple for people to navigate around the building and find their way to safety.
Such lighting has been known to calm down people and keep them focused on getting out of the building.
Key Emergency Lighting Features
Type of source light
The type of light source you select is vital. The most common emergency lighting in use is LED. That’s because it’s long-lasting, energy-efficient, and gives off a bright, clear illumination.
Emergency lighting must operate independently from your main power source. This might mean having an off-grid solution. In addition, the lighting must be backed up by a secondary battery.
There must be no need for external switching on of the lighting. It should automatically turn on when the main power is lost. Finding the right emergency lighting doesn’t have to be complex. Your local fire expert or fire department can make recommendations on the most suitable systems.
Easy-to-read status indicators
During the routine monthly inspections of your fire safety equipment, you must be able to clearly check on the status of your emergency lighting. This task is best fulfilled when there is an easy-to-read status indicator.
How to Care for Your Emergency Lighting
Here’s what you can do to keep your emergency lighting in tip-top shape.
Regular testing and maintenance
Routine testing alongside maintenance is a surefire way to verify that your workplace emergency lighting is working as it should be.
During such checks, technicians can quickly identify issues that need to be fixed before an emergency occurs. You want the system to be always ready to use when needed.
Regular maintenance is also encouraged as it can serve to extend the life of your emergency lighting system.
Emergency Lighting FAQ
Here’s an FAQ to answer some questions about emergency lighting.
Q: How often should I test my emergency lighting?
A: The recommended guideline is testing your emergency lighting systems at least once a month. This should ideally be conducted after any repairs and maintenance work has been done. Once a year, it’s pivotal that a certified professional also looks over the entire system to ensure it’s still in compliance with local provincial fire safety codes and regulations.
Q: What happens if my emergency lighting systems fail during an emergency?
A: If this ever happens the results can be catastrophic. Confusion and panic may make it hard for people inside the building to get out. This is the reason regular testing and maintenance are so critical.
Q: Is it possible to integrate my fire alarm systems with emergency lighting?
A: Yes, it is. In fact, the integration of the two fire safety elements means if the fire alarm is triggered the emergency lights will automatically turn on. This activation is an extra layer of safety and property managers should think seriously about merging these two. Your local fire expert can connect the two systems.
Q: Can renewable energy sources power my emergency lighting system?
A: Yes, in today’s green-conscious world this is a suggestion that’s being highly encouraged. Solar and wind are excellent energy sources and should be fully optimized wherever possible. Relying on such eco-friendly sources of energy helps to mitigate the property’s environmental impact while also providing an extra layer of reliability should the main power ever be cut off unexpectedly.
Q: Is there an emergency lighting regulation in Ontario?
A: Yes, provincial fire safety codes exist which regulate emergency lighting. The codes stipulate who should install and maintain emergency lighting in buildings, the frequency of maintenance, and the rules your system must comply with.
Every place of business must be equipped with emergency lighting. This system is an essential safety feature for any workplace, furnishing it with illumination and allowing people to safely navigate their way out of the building during an emergency.
When looking for a system, businesses should consider the benefits of having emergency lighting, the system’s features, and the necessity of regular testing and maintenance.
The presence of proper emergency lighting means a business can help reduce the risk for employees and customers if there should ever be a power outage or another emergency.
Where to Find Technical Assistance in Hamilton
Business owners and property managers in Hamilton, Ontario can reach out to our team here at Nutech Fire Prevention. We have the expertise and experience to make suitable emergency lighting recommendations for your building.
That’s not all we do however, as we also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.