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How Many Fire Extinguishers Do You Need?

Posted on: June 4, 2016

Installing the proper number of fire extinguishers isn’t just important for keeping your building, employees, customers, and assets safe from fire—it’s also necessary to comply with local fire safety codes and avoid fines associated with noncompliance. Use this guide to help you determine the number and placement of fire extinguishers in your building—or contact Confires to learn more.

Know Your Building’s Fire Hazard Level

Building codes and OSHA Standards dictate how many fire extinguishers you need based on your building’s fire hazard level. There are five classifications. Determine which one your building belongs in and calculate how many fire extinguishers you need based on square footage.

Light Fire Hazard: Fire Extinguishers No Further Than 75 Feet Apart

These buildings are those in which a fire is unlikely to occur. The majority of materials found here are noncombustible and arranged in a way that doesn’t encourage a fire to spread. Examples include:

  • Office buildings
  • Classrooms
  • Hotels
  • Churches

Ordinary Fire Hazard I: Fire Extinguishers Every 75 Feet

These buildings have a few flammable products on site, but the chance of a fire is still low because there’s no ignition source present. Examples include:

  • Fabric stores
  • Post offices
  • Dry cleaners

Ordinary Fire Hazard II: Fire Extinguishers Every 30-50 Feet

This classification indicates that both flammable materials and ignition sources are located in the same building. Still, a fire is unlikely to start without human error or malicious intent. Examples include:

  • Parking garages
  • Hardware stores
  • Theaters and stages

Extra Fire Hazard: Fire Extinguishers Every 30-50 Feet

Buildings in this category are more likely to experience a fire because flammable materials, combustible liquids and/or ignition sources are located in the same building. These materials are surrounded by lint, dust or other combustibles that could aid the spread of fire if one starts. Examples include:

  • Upholstering stores
  • Modular building assembly plants
  • Die casting facilities
  • Plastics processing plants

Commercial Kitchens: Fire Extinguishers Every 30 Feet

Considered the highest risk buildings, commercial kitchens contain combustible cooking fuels, high heat and fast-paced environments that create a very real threat of fire every day. Examples include:

  • Restaurant kitchens
  • Hotel kitchens
  • School kitchens

Where to Place Fire Extinguishers

Determining the number you need is important, but strategic placement is important to ensure accessibility in a fire. Follow these tips:

  • Place fire extinguishers on exit routes near exterior doors.
  • Place the correct type of fire extinguishers near the hazards they’re supposed to protect against.
  • Make sure extinguishers are clearly visible, hanging on the wall or set in the corner, not hidden behind furniture or in a cabinet.

Contact Confires for Help Installing Fire Extinguishers

While this guide is a useful resource, a full survey of your property by a licensed fire protection company is the best way to ensure the proper number and placement of the correct type of fire extinguishers for your building. For help selecting and installing fire extinguishers, contact Confires. We have over 30 years of experience offering fire protection services to businesses in New Jersey, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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