Commercial fire extinguishers are every business establishment's first line of defense against potential fire hazards. These are the most vital fire safety devices and are mandatory for every commercial property as per the fire safety regulations.
Nevertheless, a commercial fire extinguisher specifically made for a particular fire may be ineffective against other kinds of fires. Hence, there are commercial fire extinguishers created for particular fire types.
Commercial fire extinguishers are classified into different categories depending on the type of fires they can extinguish. The following are the different types of fire extinguishers and when to use them:
Class A commercial fire extinguishers extinguish Class 'A' fires (fires caused by ordinary solid combustibles, such as paper, wood, and clothes). To extinguish a class 'A' fire, the heat must be extinguished, and the oxygen supply needs to be cut off.
Therefore, the class 'A' fire extinguishers usually contain pressurized water. The most effective way to cool down any fire source is pressurized water. A class 'A' fire extinguisher is often labeled as a triangle having the letter "A" in the middle.
Class 'B' commercial fire extinguishers are utilized to extinguish fires classified as class 'B' (fire caused due to combustible and flammable liquids such as alcohol, petroleum, and gasoline). To put out a Class 'B' fire, the oxygen supply must be cut off, and flames must be smothered to prevent the fire from burning. A Class 'A' fire extinguisher would be ineffective because the fire is liquid-based.
Thus, a class 'B' fire extinguisher is utilized to completely smother the fire with its carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishing agent. The class 'B' fire extinguisher sprays cold liquid CO2, eliminating its oxygen supply and dissipating the heat, successfully extinguishing the fire. This fire extinguisher is labeled with a square symbol with the letter "B."
Class 'C' commercial fire extinguishers are utilized to extinguish class 'C' fires (fires caused due to electrical equipment). This type of fire needs electrically non-conductive extinguishing agents to stop the fire. For this, a special type of fire extinguisher classified as class 'C' is utilized. A class 'C' fire extinguisher usually includes sodium bicarbonate and mono ammonium phosphate extinguishing agents with non-conductive properties.
Class' D' fires are due to combustible metals, like magnesium, titanium, lithium, etc. These fires often occur in commercial buildings, manufacturing facilities, or laboratories that store or produce flammable metals. These kinds of fires aren't easy to extinguish. They require a class' D' fire extinguisher with powdered graphite, copper-based or granular sodium chloride-based extinguishing agent.
A fire extinguisher class 'D' can effectively separate the metal from the oxygen supply and stop the burning metals.
Kitchen fires, like class 'B' fires, are caused due to flammable liquids such as cooking grease, oils, and cooking equipment, but these are relatively high heat fires. These are often common in commercial kitchens and are capable of spreading rapidly. A class B fire extinguisher can not effectively extinguish these kinds of fires. Thus, a class 'K' extinguisher eliminates the class 'K' fires in the kitchen.
The class K commercial fire extinguishers include a wet mist of chemical extinguishing agents. It quickly engulfs the fire under a foam blanket and completely cuts off its oxygen supply.
An ABC fire extinguisher is a multi-utility fire extinguisher that can extinguish a combination of class A, B, or C fires. These are designed to handle more than one type of fire threat as per your facilities' unique requirements.
They should be in plain view, unobstructed, and near an escape route or exit. You should ensure they are installed away from heat sources and out of children's reach. Cabinets for commercial fire extinguishers are a great way to store and protect the fire extinguishers from tampering or damage.
A good rule of thumb is to guarantee no more than 75 feet of distance between commercial fire extinguishers. Kitchens, garages, laundry rooms, and tops of stairwells are all-important fire extinguisher locations. It's also important that the fuel classification on the fire extinguisher should match the materials and hazards surrounding the fire extinguisher.
A visual fire extinguisher inspection should be performed monthly by the person who owns or occupies the commercial establishment. You must keep a record of every inspection on a tag or file attached to the fire extinguisher, such as the date of the inspections and the initials of the person inspecting it.
A trained expert should perform a fire extinguisher inspection once every year. Our experts here at Texas Fire & Safety Equipment recommend getting your commercial fire extinguishers inspected with your annual fire sprinkler or fire alarm system inspection. For most common fire extinguishers (class A, B, and C fires), an internal check-up should be performed every six years, and pressurized water or hydrostatic test should be done at least every 12 years.
While fire extinguishers might look similar, they are indeed different. Fire extinguishers from your big box store or local hardware may be sufficient for homeowners. Still, businesses and commercial facilities require different types of equipment for their unique environments and operations.
Comparing the durability and quality of store-bought and commercial fire extinguishers is the same as comparing apples to oranges. The main advantages to purchasing commercial fire extinguishers are in the parts of the device itself. For example, the paint repels UV rays and gauges on commercial grade equipment, and their carry and discharge handles provide superior designs and is more heavy-duty. Store-bought extinguishers also include chintzy brackets, whereas commercial-grade brackets are built to last.
Moreover, lower-quality fire extinguishers don't offer the same flow rate as commercial fire extinguishers. Certain fire extinguishers utilize a number rating to indicate how large of a blaze they could effectively fight; for example, a 2A extinguisher will extinguish a smaller fire while a 3A has the power to extinguish a larger fire.
While the suppressant powder might be the same between store-bought and commercial-grade fire extinguishers, the distribution of the powder – which is what determines how large of fire the extinguisher can put out – is not.
Commercial properties must comply with local and national fire regulations to avoid costly citations and possible closures.
It's best practice to partner with a company that is familiar with these codes and standards. Otherwise, you'll be second-guessing and left vulnerable to citations or worse - not having the fire extinguishers optimally placed when you have to reach them immediately.
Commercial fire extinguishers vary in price since there are several factors that can affect their overall cost. To give you an accurate pricing quotation, please reach out to us at Texas Fire & Safety Equipment
You can purchase commercial fire extinguishers and other fire safety devices here at Texas Fire & Safety Equipment. We have high-quality and state-of-the-art safety devices and equipment so you can rest assured that your business establishment is in good hands with us.