Posts Tagged ‘fire extinguisher’

5 Ways To Prepare For A Fire System Inspection

Posted: April 15th, 2021

Whether you’ve already scheduled your next fire system inspection or the Ontario fire marshal decides to make an impromptu visit, your building needs to up to code. The Ontario Fire Code spells out your obligations under the law, and different types of facilities have specific requirements for their respective fire systems. 

Failing a fire system inspection can result in the closing of your business. While your building should be in code compliance at all times, fire marshals are even less forgiving when they schedule an inspection. If you need assistance with your facility, the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc have been preparing Ontario businesses for their fire inspections since 1996, with the following systems:

1) Electrical Equipment

Make sure your building’s electrical system is functioning correctly and up to code. Electrical problems are one of the most common causes of building fires, so the fire inspector examines your electrical system closely. Inspections often fail for reasons, such as:

  • Missing cover plates for junction boxes or electrical outlets
  • Openings in circuit breaker boxes – Sparks or arcs can ignite nearby combustible material.
  • Unlabeled breakers
  • Using extension cords for permanent appliances 
  • Extension cords stapled to a wall or furniture
  • Overloaded power strips
  • Daisy-chained surge suppressors
  • Unlabeled and unaccessible main electrical panel

You should correct these items before any fire inspection. Call an electrician if necessary. 

2) Keep Exit Pathways Clear

Fire marshals understand that occupant evacuation during a fire can be hectic and dangerous. They frown on any obstacles that prevent an easy egress from the premises. The Ontario Fire Code specifications regarding building egress include:

  • Combustible materials shall not be accumulated in any part of an elevator shaft, ventilation shaft, means of egress – however, code does permit wooden furniture as long as it doesn’t impede the exit
  • (1) Means of egress shall be maintained in good repair and free of obstructions.
  • (2)(b) Hotels must have fire safety rules posted on exit doors of guest suites

3) Fire Alarms

Trained and licensed professionals must perform periodic fire inspections according to your building’s requirements. The company performing the fire system inspection should provide you with a written report that you must provide to the fire marshall on request. When the fire marshal has scheduled his own inspection, make sure of the following:

  • Pull stations are visible and accessible
  • The fire alarm panel is easily accessible and free of trouble or supervisory alerts

4) Fire Extinguishers

The Ontario Fire Code has detailed requirements for the type of extinguishers required and their testing, inspection, and maintenance. They need annual service and inspection by trained technicians, as well as the following:

  • Recharging or replacement if the extinguishing material is low
  • Hydrostatic testing of the cylinder or replacement every six years

Visually inspect your extinguishers each month to ensure that they’re:

  • Visible
  • Accessible
  • Rust free
  • Gauge is in the green area

5) Fire Hoses

You must provide documentation of annual fire hose inspections to the fire marshal upon request. Fire hose inspections check for issues, such as:

  • Excess debris 
  • Mildew
  • Rott
  • Chemical damage 
  • Cuts or abrasions

Preparation is the key to passing your next Ontario Fire Marshal fire inspection. If you don’t have the time to brush up on the latest code revisions, you can always rely on the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc. 

Specialists in fire protection, All Protect’s technicians can see potential problems and solutions that you might miss. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!

What To Do After You’ve Used A Fire Extinguisher

Posted: July 15th, 2020

Fire extinguishers are a safety device that’s always there when you need it, and fortunately, you usually never need one. However, once in a while, there’s a fire. And you or somebody else showed the courage and initiative to use the available extinguisher to put it out. Now you have to deal with fire extinguisher cleanup.

Now, you’ve got a mess and an empty fire safety device, so what do you do? First, you need to clean up the debris resulting from the extinguisher’s discharge. Below is a description of the various types you may have, and how to clean each one. But if you have any doubts or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc.

Types of Extinguisher Types and Cleanup

Different types of fires ignite in different environments, and an expert selected your extinguisher for that location. Each kind has different chemicals to put out various fire types, and they all require their own cleanup. The most common types of extinguisher include:

1. Dry Chemical Extinguisher

Using an array of effective fire fighting chemicals including sodium bicarbonate, monoammonium phosphate, and potassium bicarbonate, they’re rated for A, B, and C type fires.

Though excellent in disrupting a fire’s chemical reaction, it leaves behind a toxic powder, which you should clean as soon as possible. You can obtain the best results with the following steps:

  • Vacuum up any loose debris
  • Spray any caked-on residue with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and warm water. Wipe with a damp rag.
  • A 25 to one ratio of hot water to vinegar can neutralize residue from potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate. Spray it on and wipe with a damp rag.
  • A paste made from hot water and baking soda neutralizes monoammonium phosphate. Apply liberally and wipe clean with a damp rag.
  • Clean all affected cooking utensils or dishware as you normally would.

2. Class K Wet Chemical Extinguishers

Designed for the requirements commercial kitchens, wet chemical extinguishers discharge a fine chemical low-PH mist that creates a barrier between a fire’s fuel and its oxygen. Before any more food preparation, clean any residue using the following steps:

  • Cut power to any appliances.
  • Wear rubber gloves when cleaning to avoid skin contact with the chemicals.
  • Wipe the affected area down with a sponge or towel and hot soapy water.

3. Clean Agent Extinguishers

Explicitly designed for putting out electrical fires, clean agent extinguishers emit non-conductive halon and halocarbon agents. They disrupt the fire’s chemical reaction and remove heat. True to their name, their discharge dissipates into the air, and no cleanup is necessary.

4. ATC Foam Extinguisher

Best used for diesel and gasoline fires, ATC foams are also effective on wood and paper fires. Cleanup includes:

  • Check the MSDS safety sheet for your extinguisher to learn if it contains toxic chemicals.
  • Use personal protective gear for your hands and eyes if the foam is toxic.
  • Don’t use water to clean the foam. It will only create more foam.

When to Call a Professional

Not every fire extinguisher cleanup should be considered a DIY job. There are situations when you should call professional cleaners, such as:

  • The residue covers expensive items 
  • You can’t clean the mess immediately. Permanent damage may occur to your building’s furniture or carpets if you don’t promptly clean the residue.
  • There’s a threat of the chemical agents entering local water supplies, or your plumbing or HVAC system may be contaminated.

Whatever type of extinguisher you’ve used, recharging or replacing your extinguisher should occur in tandem with your cleanup. Besides being required by the Ontario Fire Code, fire extinguishers are a vital tool in life safety and property protection. 

All Protect Systems, Inc can check, inspect, test, refill, or replace any style of fire extinguisher you have. In fact, we can service all of your fire protection needs. Call us today!

How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last

Posted: April 15th, 2020

According to the second law of thermodynamics, it’s natural for everything to break down and deteriorate all by itself. Fire extinguishers are no exception to this rule. It might still look the same as the day you bought it, looks can be deceiving, and degradation is happening continuously. While the lifespan of your fire extinguisher depends on various factors, you can generally expect them to last between 5-15 years. 

5-15 years may seem like a wide discrepancy, but several factors contribute to the expected lifespan of your fire extinguisher. Regular inspections and maintenance by a qualified fire extinguisher technician can take the guesswork out of your vital life safety devices. Conveniently located in Waterloo, Ontario, All Protect Systems Inc serves much of the surrounding area. Call them today to find out how they can help keep your home or business safe.

Expiration Date

A time-honored tradition for any product with a life expectancy is always to check the expiration date. Look for a paper tag attached to the handle of the extinguisher. Even if the tag doesn’t explicitly state a date of expiration, it should have some date on it. If that day was more than ten years ago, it’s probably time to replace your unit. If no tag is apparent, there might be a date code imprinted on the equipment. If the numbers don’t make sense, don’t be afraid to look up the model number on the internet and see what information is available.

Pressure Gauge

While not all fire extinguishers have gauges, most do. Look for the indicator on top of the handle. It will show you the amount of pressure left in the tank. They usually have a red (empty) and green (full) section, so as long as the pointer is in the green area, your equipment should have enough material to function correctly.

Extinguisher Damage

Hopefully, you keep your fire extinguisher in a safe environment. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Fires can happen anywhere, and you need to keep extinguishers near the most likely places. Such locations are often subject to physical damage or environmental corrosion of your unit. 

Harmful chemicals, extreme temperatures, or other factors can cause the rubber hose or nozzle on your equipment to deteriorate and crack over time. This process occurs slowly, and you probably won’t notice it. Periodic inspections by a trained professional are invaluable in these circumstances.

Your fire extinguisher can also get knocked off its bracket by an inadvertent collision with an enthusiastic employee. Even if you try to mount your extinguishers away from high traffic areas, such accidents are common. Damage to a fire extinguisher may not be evident to the untrained eye. Locking pins go missing. Handles become wobbly or loose, and debris can clog the nozzle. It’s a good idea to assign a specific employee the responsibility of monthly or quarterly inspections of all your life safety equipment.

Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

Some types of fire extinguishers last longer than others. You shouldn’t expect pressurized water, carbon dioxide, and wet chemical extinguishers to last longer than three years. Dry chemical extinguishers, on the other hand, should last at least 12 years. The type of extinguishing agent in your equipment should be visible on your tank. 

Fire Extinguishers are the type of thing we tend to ignore until our lives depend on them. Unfortunately, we need to pay attention to them before they become critical for survival. Keep complete records of your maintenance and expiration dates of all your fire extinguishing equipment, and service them when necessary. If you would prefer to delegate this responsibility to a trained professional, call the experts at All Protect Systems Inc. They offer complete solutions to all your property and life safety protection systems.

Image: Flickr

Training Employees On Using Fire Extinguishers Safely

Posted: March 2nd, 2020

Fire extinguishers are a vital part of any safe workplace, but not everyone knows how to use them. Proper knowledge and training of how to operate a fire extinguisher could save critical minutes in an emergency, and make the difference in getting employees to safety. Ensure that everyone in your workplace is properly trained on how to use a fire extinguisher, by following a few simple guidelines.

There are two key components to training employees on how to use fire extinguishers – making sure that training is done correctly and consistently. Correct training means having a skilled instructor who understands the technical equipment and fire code regulations and can answer any questions your staff may have. Consistent training involves having regular meetings and updates to refresh workers’ knowledge of the equipment.

We recommend bringing in a fire safety professional to provide fire extinguisher training. The correct use of a fire extinguisher should include knowledge of the P.A.S.S. system, which is an acronym for “Pass, Aim, Squeeze, Swap.” Make sure that you and your staff are comfortable with these four steps:

  1. Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher.
  2. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the trigger in a controlled manner.
  4. Sweep the nozzle of the fire extinguisher from side to side to cover the entire area.

We strongly suggest employees commit the P.A.S.S. system to memory, and that you or a department supervisor test your employees on a regular basis. However, operating instructions for fire extinguishers should also be clearly visible for anyone who may be a position to use the fire extinguishers in your workplace. Section (1) of the Ontario Fire Code requires that portable fire extinguishers be mounted so they are visible and accessible at all times, while Section states that operating instructions for extinguishers should face outward for visibility when extinguishers are located in cabinets, shelves or wall recesses.

But there is more to fire extinguisher safety than just knowing how to operate the extinguisher. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) recommends that proper fire extinguisher training should include learning the locations of extinguishers, the types of fire most likely to occur in the workplace and the proper extinguishers to use in each instance, markings on fire extinguishers, the importance of sounding fire alarms, health and safety hazards, protective equipment and more.

WSPS provides resources on fire extinguisher safety, including consulting services and online courses. The team at All Protect Systems Inc. can also provide information about resources and training for employee fire safety.

Consistency is important when it comes to training both new and old employees. Training should be scheduled regularly in the workplace, at a minimum of once a year. Retraining can be scheduled as often as needed. Look at each training session as an opportunity to build confidence in your staff’s emergency skills. Fire safety training should also be included in the training and orientation of all new employees.

Remember that different people learn in different ways, so be prepared to provide more than one method of training. Hands-on training is always effective, allowing employees to handle and operate the fire extinguishers themselves. However, it’s also helpful to provide written instructions, links to videos, and the opportunity to talk one-one-one with a fire safety expert, so staff can absorb knowledge in the way that works for them.

A workplace emergency, like a fire, can be a stressful and chaotic time for both employees and supervisors. Proper training about fire procedures and equipment can help everyone to handle the crisis safely and smoothly. Contact the team at All Protect Systems Inc. if you have any questions about fire extinguisher training, equipment or workplace safety. We’ll be happy to work with you to make your workplace a safer place for your employees.

Image: Pixabay

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Fire Extinguishers

Posted: November 3rd, 2019

There are several different fire extinguishers, as there are different types of fire. The extinguisher must use a product that is suited to the material that is being burned, such as metal, paper, plastic or wood.

It is important to establish the classification of the fire very quickly so as to be able to work out what needs to be done to fight it.

Types of fire

Fires fall into five different types named A, B, C, D and K, depending on the substance or material that is the site of the fire.

Class A fires involve standard combustible material such as cloth, paper, plastics, rubber or wood. This creates embers that result in the production of either a quick combustion including flames or a slow combustion that is actually flameless.

Class B fires involve gases, lacquers, liquids, oil or paints that are combustible or flammable and burn without producing any smouldering or flames.

Class C fires involve live electrical devices such as appliances, power tools or motors.

Class D fires involve metals that are combustible such as the likes of magnesium, potassium, sodium and titanium. These fires can be especially hazardous as they may explode upon exposure to water.

Class K fires involve fats within cooking appliances or cooking oils that are combustible, and are actually the most common form of fire.

The difference between the fires makes it all the more important to ensure you choose the correct fire extinguisher if you intend to try to fight it.

The importance of choosing the correct fire extinguisher

Businesses can choose a variety of different fire extinguishers, including ones that are low hazard, high hazard or medium hazard. Low hazard fire extinguishers are usually suitable for areas such as the guest areas in hotels and traditional offices.

High hazard fire extinguishers can be helpful in manufacturing environments or other any form of business that may make use of flammable liquids. Medium hazard fire extinguishers are best suited for the likes of storage areas, car showrooms and light manufacturing environments.

Portable fire extinguisher types

Portable fire extinguishers have different capabilities, limitations and individual characteristics. The three main varieties of portable fire extinguisher are water extinguishers, CO2 extinguishers and dry chemical extinguishers.

Fire extinguishers that use water are composed of two-thirds water which is then pressurized with the use of air. These extinguishers are ideal for use with Class A fires as they able to remove the heat from the materials that are on fire. Water should never be used in electrical fires as water conducts electricity and will increase the danger of electrocution.

C02 (carbon dioxide) fire extinguishers uses, as the name suggests, pressurised CO2 to put out fires. CO2 fire extinguishers can be used on Class B and Class C fires. The CO2 actually blankets the fire, displacing the oxygen and thus stopping the reaction on the surface. CO2 fire extinguishers only have an average range and last between ten to thirty seconds at the most, making it important to be thorough.

C02 fire extinguishers are not advised for use in confined areas as it can displace the oxygen within the air as well as the fire, making it hard to breathe.

Dry chemical extinguishers are commonly available and are marked for the fire class they are intended to put out (which can include Class A, B and C). Fine powder is discharged in a blanket to break up the oxygen and the fuel and stop the chemical reaction. These extinguishers also have an average range and accurate use is essential.

Fire extinguishers should only be used after everyone on the premises has been alerted of the emergency and are leaving the building, the fire department has been called and safe exit from the building has been assured.

Image: Flickr

What Should Be Inspected During Annual Fire Safety Inspections

Posted: October 2nd, 2019

Fires happen at an alarming rate, with the official figures only further emphasizing just how important it actually is for businesses to have strict fire prevention and safety measures in place. Such measures have been embraced by Canada, the United States and many other countries all over the world, because there is no safer way to deal with fire than to prevent one from happening in the first place.

To this end, fire departments conduct annual inspections of buildings in order to ensure they are in compliance with current legal standards in regards to fire safety and to assess and mitigate any potential fire hazards in such properties. The way in which such inspections are performed by fire inspector can however be different depending on the area, which only makes it all the more important for businesses to ensure that all areas of inspection are up to code.

What will be checked?

Things that fire inspectors are likely to check during annual fire safety inspections include the likes of the condition of equipment pertaining to fire safety such as emergency lighting, fire alarms and sprinkler systems.

Other things that should be inspected during annual fire safety inspections include fire hazards, potential access for fire fighters in the event a fire does break out on the premises and any life safety issues.

Fire extinguishers

Many facilities run into trouble during annual fire inspections due to the condition of their fire extinguishers, which may be inoperable, placed in positions that are hard to see or find, or which may simply not be present in enough quantity.

It is vital that all fire extinguishers on the premises be hung in the correct position and that there are enough extinguishers to comply with the fire safety code requirement. A lot of businesses actually fail to realise that their fire extinguishers have to be inspected and tagged on an annual basis, but if a well trained Fire Protection Company such as All Protect Systems performs this service, then this aspect of the annual fire inspection should be passed with no problems.

Emergency lighting

Another thing that should be inspected during an annual fire safety inspection is the state of the emergency lighting on the premises. If a building is plunged into darkness during any kind of emergency situation, and the emergency lighting fails to switch on when it is supposed to do so, the result can be panic that will make the situation even more perilous for everyone inside.

Thus an inspection of the emergency lighting in a building should be carried out on an annual basis, usually at the same time as the annual inspection of the fire extinguishers.

Sprinkler systems

An annual fire safety inspection should also see an inspection carried out on the sprinkler system of a building, in addition to an internal inspection that should take place every five years. A Fire Protection Company such as All Protect Systems will be able to advise your company’s maintenance crew on the minimum requirements that your sprinkler system must be able to meet in order to pass an annual fire safety inspection.

Easy access

An annual fire inspection will inevitably check to make sure that all exit doors are easy to open from within the building, as seconds can mean live lost or saved during an emergency situation such as a fire. It is imperative than an exit door does not need a key or access code to be opened, and that it is not blocked in any way.

The same issue with obstructions also applies to the likes of aisles, pathways, stairways and walkways, all of which must be clear and the blocking of any emergency egress in any way will result in automatic failure of an annual fire inspection.

Talk to All Protect Systems today in order to ensure your building is in compliance of fire safety codes and will pass an annual fire safety inspection.

Image: Flickr

5 Tips For Better Fire Extinguisher Placement

Posted: July 1st, 2019

Simply having fire extinguishers is a great first step to keeping everyone safer in the event of a fire.

However, if they’re not easily accessible, they may not be useful at all. This is why fire extinguisher placement is so important.

Knowing exactly where to place your fire extinguishers could mean the difference between stopping a fire and having to evacuate as the building goes up in flames.

1. Must Be Visible At All Times

The single most important thing to remember is to keep your fire extinguishers visible at all times. The Ontario Fire Code states that any portable extinguishers be mounted so they’re visible at all times. This ensures they’re easier to find in the event of a fire.

In buildings where visibility is obstructed, such as in a warehouse, you must have signs in place that show where fire extinguishers are placed. They should still be visible and not stored in a closet or cabinet. There are a few exceptions to the cabinet rule, but the doors should be clear to still make the fire extinguisher visible.

2. Mounting

There are two main requirements for mounting/storing. For optimal fire extinguisher placement, you must use brackets to mount the fire extinguisher on a wall within easy reach.

When mounting, keep the carrying handle between one and one and half metres above the floor. This allows individuals of all heights to reach and lift the fire extinguisher. For larger extinguishers that are heavier, it’s recommended to place them lower as they’re more difficult to lift.

Alternately, you can place fire extinguishers in cabinets with glass doors. This is often the case in areas where you don’t want individuals messing with the extinguisher. Cabinets shouldn’t be locked unless it’s in an area where this is a common problem. For major occupancy buildings, you must ensure there are identical keys to the cabinet at all supervisory or security stations and there is an electrical remote release.

3. Keep Instructions Facing Forward

Fire extinguisher placement doesn’t just apply to location. It also means placing the extinguisher so users can view the instructions easily. If you multiple classifications, such as A, B or C, and they’re placed near each other, you’ll want individuals to be able to see which extinguisher they need.

In most cases, you’ll want to install multi-purpose fire extinguishers if you have multiple hazards in a single area. No matter what type of extinguisher you have, always install the extinguisher with the instructions facing forward.

4. Keep Fire Extinguishers Close

You always want your fire extinguishers to be close by, but this doesn’t mean you need one every few metres. Optimal fire extinguisher placement means keeping extinguishers within easy traveling distance according to the Ontario Fire Code Subsection 6.2.6.

For Class A extinguishers, they should be no more than 25 metres apart. Class B placement requires that fire extinguishers should be no more than 9-15 metres apart, depending upon the size of the extinguisher.

For Class C, the extinguisher should be kept inside or directly outside the room containing the electrical equipment. With Class D, keep the extinguisher no more than 25 metres away from the potential hazard.

Naturally, if you have a high hazard area or there are obstacles in the room, you may want to place an additional fire extinguisher to minimise traveling distance and ensure the best possible scenario for putting out a fire quickly.

5. Know Your Hazards

The most important thing to remember for the best possible fire extinguisher placement is to know your hazards. For instance, you’d want your commercial kitchen extinguishers closer at hand than general fire extinguishers throughout a restaurant.

The more you understand your hazards, the easier it’ll be to place the right type of extinguishers and the right amount within a set space. A combination of multi-purpose and hazard-specific are typically needed and will need to be placed according to the hazard type.

Once your extinguishers are placed, don’t forget about regular maintenance. Contact All Protect Systems to learn more about maintaining your fire extinguishers.

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