Portable Fire Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher can assist you and others in getting out of a structure in the event of a fire. Where is the nearest fire extinguisher right now? Where is the closest portable fire extinguisher at your normal work area?

It's very important to be aware of portable fire extinguisher locations without having to look too hard for too long because in the panic of the moment if a fire were to suddenly occur, seconds count. Here are the rules" A fire extinguisher, rated no less than 2A, shall be provided for each 3,000 square feet of the protected building area, or major fraction thereof. Travel distance from any point of the protected area to the nearest fire extinguisher shall not exceed 100 feet.

Fire extinguisher types

More importantly, when is the last time you actually looked at the portable fire extinguisher in your work area?

  • Is it charged fully?
  • Is it damaged?
  • Is it the proper type for the hazards in your area?
  • Is it hung properly?
  • Is it blocked?
  • Has it been hydrostatically tested in the past five to 12 years?

In-depth inspection and testing of these devices is critical, especially if your fire extinguishers have rubber or plastic boots or caps and are located in potentially corrosive environments. It is particularly important to inspect frequently:

  • Extinguishers stored outside, unprotected from the weather
  • Extinguishers stored in wet or damp environments
  • Extinguishers stored near marine facilities or other waterfront buildings, especially those located near salt water

Some companies have a service inspect their fire extinguishers either monthly or on some other periodic schedule. What about the one in your work area? Are you sure it has been looked at recently? Are you sure it wasn't missed during the last formal inspection?

Take a moment and take a look at the extinguisher on your jobsite. If you see signs that the fire extinguisher is damaged or uncharged, it should be taken out of service and a replacement installed.


Rob Matuga