October Safety Corner: Fire Extinguisher Safety

Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are vital safety equipment that should be present in every workplace, including jobsites. Fires can start from a wide variety of sources, and in case of fire, having a fire extinguisher nearby can prevent a small fire from becoming a large one and causing significant damage. In this month’s safety corner, we’ve got some fast facts on fire extinguishers. 

Fire Extinguisher Checklist:

-Place fire extinguishers within a 75’ travel distance from any point in your jobsite

-Refill and inspect each unit after use, including partial use

-Inspect your extinguisher monthly- This is an OSHA and fire code requirement

-Test each unit annually- Each unit / tank must be pressure tested every 6 years 

-Mount each unit on brackets or in wall cabinets, at least 3.5 feet above the floor

Make sure your jobsite has addressed all of these checkpoints

Fire Extinguisher FAQs:

Do fire extinguishers expire, and can they be reused? 

There are two basic types of fire extinguishers: Rechargeable (mainly commercial use) and disposable (primarily home use). Rechargeable units need to be inspected monthly, serviced annually and pressure tested every 6 years. They can be refilled and reinspected after use.

Disposable units, once used, are gone and need to be thrown away. They also to be replaced every 6 years, if unused. 

Why do we hang fire extinguishers up? 

To prevent them from being moved or damaged. Fire extinguishers should be mounted on brackets or in wall cabinets with their carrying handles placed 3-1/2 to 5 feet above the floor, depending on the type of extinguisher. They should be mounted with their carrying handles no higher than 5 feet from the floor. 

How long will a fire extinguisher last once I start using it?

 A 5-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher will last about 14 seconds.  A 5-pound CO2 extinguisher will last about 9 seconds. 

What is the purpose of a pressure gauge on a fire extinguisher?

Most fire extinguishers have a pressure gauge that shows the current pressure of the fire extinguisher, that it hasn’t been used or damaged, and is within the proper psi range for that particular fire extinguisher. 

In summary, having fire extinguishers on jobsites, and making sure they are properly maintained, is essential for ensuring the safety of your site’s workers and visitors. Follow these steps to ensure your fire extinguishers are up to the task in case of fire.