Commercial Fire Extinguisher Basics: What Every Business Owner Should Know

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No matter what the size of your business, safety fundamentals don't change. That becomes obvious when you have the building inspected to obtain your license to open the doors. However, once you've jumped through the safety hoops required for that license, it's easy to become complacent and overlook some important safety concerns. For example, when is the last time you had those mandatory fire extinguishers inspected? Here's a look at what you need to know about those inspections and their importance.

Fire Extinguishers Have A Limited Lifespan

Fire extinguishers will only be safe to use for between five and fifteen years, depending on the type of extinguisher and the manufacturer. Your fire extinguishers should have a label on the canister that tells you the average lifespan, or at least when it was manufactured. You'll need to have the extinguisher inspected routinely, especially as it approaches five to six years from the manufacture date, to be sure that it is still safe to use in the event of a fire.

Fire Extinguishers Should Come From The Right Source

Especially if you're a small business owner, it's tempting to go to your local department store or big-box store and buy a few fire extinguishers from there. While it's true that they may work, the fact is that fire extinguishers sold in those stores are designed for household use, which means they may not be powerful enough for a fire in a commercial environment.

In addition, it's more likely that you'll choose the wrong type of fire extinguisher for your company's fire threats if you try to buy them yourself. Instead, contact a local fire safety supply retailer in your area for more information. They can provide you with the right type for your needs and supply commercial-grade fire extinguishers that are going to be more likely to help you when you need it.

Fire Extinguishers Should Be Professionally Inspected Yearly

Whether you work with the local fire marshal or the fire department, you need to have every fire extinguisher in your building professionally inspected each year. This inspection goes beyond what you'll do each month because it includes a full pressure test and sometimes a hydrotest to be sure that the canister is safe for use and still holding the necessary pressure to exterminate a fire if you need it.

Someone On Your Staff Should Inspect The Fire Extinguishers Monthly

Once a month, you should do a basic inspection of your fire extinguishers. Whoever does this inspection needs to be properly trained as far as what to look at and how to ensure that each unit is still safe.

Each fire extinguisher should be securely mounted to a beam, post, or other fixed object. The mounting bracket should be secure or should be tightened if it is loose. There should be nothing placed in front of or in the way of the fire extinguisher, either. In addition, you should be sure that you have enough fire extinguishers around the building to address a fire in any area of the building.

The extinguishers should also be of the proper type to address the type of fire you can expect in each area. For example, near your server rooms and computer workstations, you should have both traditional chemical fire extinguishers as well as dry extinguishers that will put out the fire without damaging your valuable electronics. Make sure that each extinguisher is in its place during this inspection.

Finally, as each unit is inspected, check the pressure gauge on the extinguisher handle. There should still be pressure registering on that gauge. If not, that means the extinguisher has been used and needs to be replaced right away. You should always replace your fire extinguisher immediately or have it recharged if it's rechargeable immediately following a use.

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