Do you know what fire extinguishers you should mount in your business?
Are you aware of fire codes and how to go about putting out a fire?
If you answered in the negative, you’re not alone. And it’s not hard to see why.
With hardly any business-related fire incidents on record, Canadian premises are among some of the safest in the world. And here is proof from Statistics Canada:
Source: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0195-01 Fire-related deaths and persons injured, by type of structure
However, we can see that residential fires make up the bulk of fire cases each year. So we’re also going to touch a little on fire prevention for home in this blog.
But first, what are the Occupational Health and Safety fire regulations as they pertain to businesses?
Occupational Health and Safety Fire Regulations for Businesses
It is mandatory for every business to have an established fire safety plan that aligns with requirements set forth by the local Fire Code.
Some municipalities have standard fire safety plans which your business can adopt.
More information regarding fire codes in your area can be obtained from your local municipality or fire department.
The three main issues highlighted in a fire safety plan are:
1. The evacuation protocol to be followed in the event of a fire on the business premise
2. Building maintenance procedures that mitigate fire risk
3. Control measures for minimizing potential damage should a fire occur
And speaking of control measures for putting out fires, let’s turn our attention to fire extinguishers.
What is a Fire Extinguisher?
Britannica.com defines a fire extinguisher as a:
“…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.
Types of Fire Extinguisher
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 ProFire Safety Services, 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.
Request a free quote today.