Unless you’re in the fire safety business, you may not even notice the fire extinguishers placed securely in the hallways of your business. But these fire suppression systems can be a great asset in protecting your company in the event of fire. Reports have even shown that portable fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing small fires about 95% of the time.
“Time and time again, portable fire extinguishers have proven to be the most effective means of defense against fires of limited size,” the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED) noted. “NAFED’s latest survey regarding the effectiveness of portable fire extinguishers was completed in early 2010. The survey is based on the performance of 10,432 extinguishers on 4,633 incidents of which 4,401 were fires. Of the 4,401 fires reported, portable fire extinguishers successfully extinguished 4,216 fires (95%). A single fire extinguisher was used to extinguish the fire in 3,339 reported fires (72%).”
The report went on to relate that even when the fire extinguisher did not completely extinguish the fire, the extinguisher did control the fire until firefighters arrived. It should be noted though, as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported, that extinguishers do have limitations and should only be used on small fires, and the primary concern should be getting out safely.
The effectiveness of these fire extinguishers to completely put out a fire underscores the importance of fire extinguisher inspections for businesses. After all, if the extinguisher isn’t properly maintained, it won’t be useful to extinguishing a fire. And because extinguishers are only used in an emergency, regular inspections are the only way to confirm that they will work properly when needed. For these and other reasons, fire extinguisher inspections are also required by state and federal ordinances for businesses to remain code compliant.
Extinguishers that have been damaged can be very dangerous. Canisters that are left outside or in damp areas can be at risk of corroding, and this corrosion could cause the canister to explode. Regular inspections, however, can help to ensure that the canister remains in proper working order and ready in the event of a fire. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a fire can also be very dangerous. Thus, regular inspections can also ensure that the right type of extinguisher is being used and is in the proper area.
So what inspections are needed to ensure this fire suppression equipment will protect you in a fire?
Every business owner should designate an individual in the company to conduct a visual inspection of all fire extinguishers every month. OSHA provided the following checklist as a guide for these monthly inspections.
$11. Is each extinguisher in its designated place, clearly visible, and not blocked by equipment, coats or other objects that could interfere with access during an emergency?
$12. Is the nameplate with operating instructions legible and facing outward?
$13. Is the pressure gauge showing that the extinguisher is fully charged (the needle should be in the green zone)?
$14. Is the pin and tamper seal intact?
$15. Is the extinguisher in good condition and showing no signs of physical damage, corrosion, or leakage?
$16. Have all dry powder extinguishers been gently rocked top to bottom to make sure the powder is not packing?
NOTE: If you did not answer yes to all of these questions, have the extinguisher fixed or replaced immediately, OSHA added.
Although different types of extinguishers will require different maintenance and testing, sometimes at different time intervals, a thorough inspection and maintenance service is required on all types of extinguishers at least once a year. This annual inspection must be completed by a certified fire suppression professional.
Mac Systems has NICET-certified and factory trained professional inspectors who can perform these annual inspections and service all types of extinguishers. We can perform almost all fire extinguisher services on-site, saving business owners time and money.
There are other, even more in-depth inspections, required in addition to the annual inspections. These may include hydrostatic testing and an internal examination with applicable maintenance, and will be at varying intervals depending on the type of extinguisher.
Remembering which inspections are required at what time can be confusing. The fire suppression specialists at Mac Systems can take care of all your fire extinguisher inspection needs as well as handle documentation and reporting so that your business stays safe and remains code compliant.
Fire extinguishers have proved to be invaluable tools in fire safety. Don’t let your business be ill-equipped in the event of an emergency. Let Mac Systems help you keep your Tulsa or Oklahoma business safe with the right fire suppression systems.