What are the Codes and Standards for Portable Fire Extinguishers?

The primary federal requirements for portable fire extinguisher are specified in OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.157 and DOT: 49 CFR 173.309 and 180.205-215 (requalification). The standards for portable fire extinguishers for state and local government can adopt from the International Fire Code which refers to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers with their own modification. OSHA and NFPA 10 contain general and specific requirements in which the building owner, owner's agent or occupant is responsible for service by certified technicians for portable fire extinguishers.

What are the Classes of Fires?
There are Five classes of fires.

CLASS A - Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
CLASS B - Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and oil-based paint.
CLASS C - Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.
CLASS D - Combustible metals such as magnesium or sodium.

CLASS K - Cooking oils and fats in cooking appliances.


The diagram show below shows which extingusher is best for what class.





















What are Area Hazard Classification Per NFPA 10: 
Light (Low) Hazard:
Light (Low) hazard occupancies shall be classified as locations where the quantity and combustibility of Class A combustibles and Class B flammables are low (less than one gallon of flammable liquid or gas) and fires with relatively low rates of heat release are expected.

A minimum 2-A:/ 5 or 10-B:C  UL Rated Fire Extinguisher  

Ordinary (Moderate) Hazard: 

Ordinary (Moderate) hazard occupancies shall be classified as locations where the quantity and combustibility of Class A combustible materials and Class B flammables is moderate (between one gallon of flammable liquid or gas to five gallons of flammable liquid or gas) and fires with moderate rates of heat release are expected.

A minimum 2-A:/ 10 or 20-B:C UL Rated Fire Extinguisher  

Extra (High) Hazard:

Extra (High) hazard occupancies shall be classified as locations where the quantity and combustibility of Class A combustible material is high or where high amounts of Class B flammables are highly present (more than five gallons of flammable liquid or gas) and rapidly developing fires with high rates of heat release are expected.

A minimum 4-A:/ 40 or 80-B:C UL Rated Fire Extinguisher 


​Per NFPA 10, Buildings that have an occupancy hazard subject to Class B or Class C Fires or both shall have a standard complement of Class A fire extinguishers for building protection.

For Class B rating, travel distance do factor the UL rating requirement.

Picture: All Fire Alarms

What is Annual Maintenance ?


OSHA and NFPA 10 states that the owner of the property shall be responsible for fire extinguishers to be maintained. A trained and certified person who has undergone the instructions necessary to reliably perform maintenance is subjected to maintain fire extinguishers at intervals of not more than 1 year apart . Maintenance procedures shall include a thorough examination of the basic elements of a fire extinguisher, by following the procedures detailed in the manufacturer's service manual, check to see if the hazards has changed or the right type of fire extinguisher due to code changes, whether it is condemned: any fire extinguisher that can no longer be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance manual is considered obsolete and shall be removed from service including no serial numbers, and to see if a six year maintenance or hydro-test is due by the end of the year. After being compliant, each fire extinguisher shall have a tag or label securely attached and indicates the month and year the maintenance was performed and identifies the person and the service company performing the maintenance.











 Condemn Fire Extinguishers.



Note: Persons conducting monthly inspections can not be required to be certified.

If a fire breaks out what to do:

In Case of Fire, Just Remember the Three A's:


ACTIVATE the building alarm system or notify the fire department by calling 911. Or, have someone else do this for you.

ASSIST any persons in immediate danger, or those incapable on their own, to exit the building, without risk to yourself.

Only after these two are completed, should you ATTEMPT to extinguish the fire.

"Should I Try to Fight this Fire?"


BEFORE you begin (or even consider) fighting a fire:

Call the Fire Department (Dial 911).

Make sure the building is being evacuated.

Determine whether the fire is small and is not spreading.

Confirm you have a safe path to an exit not threatened by the fire.

Know how to use a fire extinguisher.


NEVER fight a fire if even one of the following is true:

The fire is spreading beyond the immediate area in which it started or is already a large fire.

The fire could block your escape route.

You are unsure of the proper operation of the extinguisher.

You doubt that the extinguisher you are holding is designed for the type of fire at hand or is large enough to fight the fire.


Only Fight a Fire If..

...If the fire is small and contained.
The time to use a fire extinguisher is in the early, or incipient, stage of a fire. Once the fire starts to grow or spread, it is best to evacuate the building, closing doors or windows behind you.

...If you are safe from toxic smoke.
If the fire is producing large amounts of thick, black smoke or chemical smoke, it may be best not to try to extinguish the fire. Neither, should you attempt to extinguish the fire in a confined space. Outdoors, approach the fire with the wind at your back. Remember that all fires will produce carbon monoxide and many fires will produce toxic gases that can be fatal, even in small amounts.

...If you have a means of escape.
You should always fight a fire with an exit or other means of escape at your back. If the fire is not quickly extinguished, you need to be able to get out quickly and avoid becoming trapped.

...If your instincts tell you it's OK.
If you do not feel comfortable attempting to extinguish the fire, don’t try ­ get out and let the fire department do their job.




Fire Extinguishers Have Their Limits


Portable extinguishers are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions:
* The operator must know how to use the extinguisher.
* The extinguisher must be within easy reach, in working order, and fully charged.
* The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire.
* The extinguisher must match the type of fire being fought. (Extinguishers containing water are unsuitable for use on grease or electrical fires.)
*The extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire. Many portable extinguishers discharge completely in as few as eight to ten seconds.

!!! Always be sure the fire department inspects the fire site, even if you think you've extinguished the fire !!!


Using an Extinguisher? Remember P.A.S.S.

Always keep your back to an unobstructed exit, stand six to eight feet away from the fire, and follow the PASS (Pull Aim Squeeze Sweep) four-step procedure:

PULL the pin - This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. Some extinguishers may have other lever-release mechanisms.

AIM low - Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.

SQUEEZE the lever above the handle - This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge. (Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever.)

SWEEP from side to side - Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.


Source:  NCAFED

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