Extinguishers: Proper Mounting and Signage
To Ensure safety, portable fire extinguishers are installed throughout buildings for potential fires involving Class A common combustibles (wood, paper, cloth, etc). That is because of varied hazards such as construction materials, floor coverings (carpets), window dressings and furnishings. Extinguishers are installed even if a building has a fire sprinkler system because a person can extinguish a fire well before a sprinkler discharges, limiting damage and reducing toxic smoke from a prolonged fire. Extinguishers need to be readily available and accessible. Here are some of the things your fire technician is checking for during the annual inspection.
Extinguishers are installed along corridors (that is the normal path of travel) and near entrances and exits. They should be conspicuously located, but if not, signs need to be installed per NFPA 10, 18.104.22.168.2) so building occupants can find them quickly during a fire emergency. 3D or “Standoff” signs are a good idea for most corridors, as they can be easily seen from a distance. Many building owners want a sign for each extinguisher because it improves safety.
Cabinets, Hangers, and Brackets:
As mentioned in NFPA 10, 22.214.171.124.4 every extinguisher needs to be secured. That means extinguishers in buildings need to be mounted in one of the following standard ways:
- Extinguisher cabinet (surface mount, semi-recessed, or recessed)
- Hanger intended for the specific extinguisher (existing hangers often do not match replacement extinguishers)
- Strap-type extinguisher bracket (for locations where extinguishers could become dislodged, also known as earthquake straps)
Break-Front Panels and Strikers
To prevent theft and tampering, cabinets with break-front panels are installed. Missing breaker bars and hammers must be replaced to be code compliant (NFPA 10, 126.96.36.199.1) It is also a good idea to have break-front panels readily available to replace damaged or missing ones.
Extinguishers need to be readily available and marked with signs so they can be easily identified in an emergency. Using the correct mounting method ensures safety and easy access during fire situations. Performing a thorough examination of mounting components, during annual maintenance of extinguishers, will help ensure that building occupants are afforded the best protection and building owners will benefit from the increased safety of extinguisher in code-compliant installations.