Portable fire extinguishers can be an effective early response to a developing fire, if they are installed and used properly. In this section, we are going to review general information about the placement and spacing of portable fire extinguishers.
If employees use portable fire extinguishers to fight small fires, they must be installed in all areas of the workplace. To ensure each area is protected properly, ask yourself the following questions:
Is the extinguisher readily accessible in the event of a fire?
To avoid putting workers in danger, fire extinguishers should be located throughout the workplace and readily accessible in the event of a fire. [29 CFR 1910.157(c)] You can usually find them in hallways, laundry rooms, meeting rooms, kitchens, mechanical/electrical rooms, and near exit doors. If employees use portable fire extinguishers, they must be selected and positioned based on the potential type and size of fire that can occur. [29 CFR 1910.157(d)(1)]
Is the extinguisher full charged and working properly?
Regular maintenance and inspections of your portable fire extinguishers will provide assurance that they will operate effectively and safely if they are needed. [29 CFR 1910.157(c)(4)]
Inspect all extinguishers at least once a month. Use the following checklist as a guide.
- 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?
- Is the nameplate with operating instructions legible and facing outward?
- Is the pressure gauge showing that the extinguisher is fully charged (the needle should be in the green zone)?
- Is the pin and tamper seal intact?
- Is the extinguisher in good condition and showing no signs of physical damage, corrosion, or leakage?
- 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!
Source: United States Department of Labor