So, you want to keep your space safe from fire-related accidents—you’re probably asking yourself, “how many fire extinguishers do I need?” The short answer is: it depends on the building you’re talking about!
While there’s not a one-size-fits-all rule for extinguishers, there are effective frameworks that you can use to understand just how many fire extinguishers you need to ensure you’re ready for any emergency.
Surveying Your Space: The Office
For safety managers and company leaders, start with the guidelines that are provided by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Based on their recommendations, use the following framework to determine just how many fire extinguishers to add to your space:
- Room quantity, size and layout: Based on NFPA standards, there should be no more than 75 feet between each fire extinguisher. As such, you can leverage floor plans and square footage information to map out both the location and quantity of fire extinguishers.
- Stairwells: Add at least one fire extinguisher per stairway in an easily accessible location.
- Fire hazard level: Based on previous evaluations of your building and the subsequent rating assignment (i.e., light fire hazard, ordinary fire hazard, extra fire hazard and commercial kitchens), your space may require additional fire extinguishers to meet safety needs. Review your building’s requirements and adjust your equipment accordingly.
- Presence of flammable liquids: If any flammable liquids or gas are stored in large quantities (five gallons or more), a fire extinguisher with a 10B or higher rating must be within 50 feet of the container.
Based on your analysis of your space and these parameters, you should have a good estimate of how many fire extinguishers you need to support the building’s safety.
Survey Your Space: Your Home
While there might not be as many regulations on a home environment as an office building, it’s still important to keep your house ready and prepared against any emergency. To estimate how
many fire extinguishers you need, think about the spaces in your home that present potential risks.
For example, while some people may use their garage to work on car repairs and others are impressive chefs in the kitchen, both environments present some safety hazards (i.e., an overheating vehicle or stovetop fire). As such, those spaces could use an additional fire extinguisher. If your home has multiple floors, make sure to have one extinguisher per floor—even if there aren’t any obvious concerns. Better safe than sorry!
Basic Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
An important part of your fire safety plan is to regularly check and maintain your fire extinguishers. A professional technician can help you perform a thorough check of all your fire prevention resources to confirm they’re operating properly, which can include a lot of things, from testing the locking pin to inspecting the hose for cracks or damage.
In between professional maintenance visits, make sure to add these quick tasks to your monthly chore list:
- Ensure that the fire extinguisher is not blocked by objects that could interfere with its use.
- Review the pressure level and determine if it is at the recommended level. Most extinguishers are color-coded; if you see green on your gauge, you’re in the clear!
- Look for any damage and confirm that the nozzle, pin and tamper seal are all intact. Also, watch out for dents, leaks or other corrosive chemicals around the area where you store your fire extinguisher.
If you notice anything unusual or see significant damage to the fire extinguisher, contact a professional to help you assess what to do next. In most cases, the extinguisher will need to be replaced. Remember, it’s always better to be cautious—don’t cut back or cut out when your future safety is on the line.
Figuring out, “How many fire extinguishers do I need?”
Whether you’re a business or homeowner, use the above parameters to answer this question. Fire safety can be forgotten or overlooked, so add a fire extinguisher check to your regular to-do list to make sure you’re always prepared.