Fire extinguishers aren’t one of the things that come with a “set it and forget it” promise. You might not use them at all. But what good is a safety measure if it doesn’t work when something terrible does happen?
Because of this, the National Fire Protection Association and the Department of Labor have rules and codes about fire extinguishers. It would help if you didn’t waste your time here. They were made to help people.
OSHA says, “do it.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor has rules about portable fire extinguishers that you must follow. It is written in style called “government-speak,” and the word “shall” is used. Don’t be fooled by that. That’s not a choice. According to OSHA’s Fire Protection documentation, section 1910.157(e)(3), the employer must ensure that portable fire extinguishers are checked for maintenance once a year by a licensed fire equipment dealer. The employer must write down the annual maintenance date and keep this record for either one year after the last entry or for as long as the shell lasts, whichever is shorter. When asked, the form will be given to the Assistant Secretary. A state-licensed fire extinguisher dealer in New Mexico must also check the inside of stored pressure extinguishers every six years. Employers are also required to do a quick check of their fire extinguishers once a month to make sure they are mounted correctly, have no visible damage, are easy to see and reach, and all pressure gauges (if any) are in the range where they can be used. But what’s the point? It’s good to know that your portable fire extinguishers get regular checks and are ready to use, but does everyone in your organization know how to use them? Because of this, OSHA also has Section 1910.157(d)(3), which says:
- The employer can use standpipe systems or hose stations connected to a sprinkler system instead of Class A portable fire extinguishers for emergency use by employees, if the plans meet the requirements of 1910.158 or 1910.159, cover the whole area to be protected, and train employees at least once a year on how to use them. Also, remember that OSHA says you must give this training to all new employees.
Your insurance company and the federal government require you to keep an eye on your portable fire extinguishers. If you don’t, you might not be covered in case of an emergency. More importantly, NFPA 10 says that inspections must be done at least once a month by the extinguisher owner and once a year by a licensed company. This is what the State of New Mexico requires. It would be best if you gave this to people who know how to protect against fire.
Because of these regulations, many individuals begin to consider the proper use and upkeep of their portable fire extinguishers. Some of the most frequently asked questions
- How many do I need? It’s a piece of math. This is based on how many seconds it takes someone to get to an extinguisher and put out a fire. Bring in a certified safety group to help you figure out the correct number.
- They’d like to sit on the floor. Not even close. Portable fire extinguishers have to be put in a cabinet, a hole in the wall, or on a particular wall bracket.
- Where should they be? This is more about reason, safety, and common sense. Most safety groups suggest places that are close to your entrances and exits. Others should be put along their routes to use them as they go.
- Can these things accidentally go off? If you’re worried about this, it could mean you need to learn more about portable fire extinguishers. Here’s the short version. There is a safety pin in the handle, which stops the gun from going off by accident. During your regular checks, look at the gauge on each fire extinguisher. If the indicator needle isn’t in the safe zone, you should call the fire safety company.
- Have we got the right kind? Fire extinguishers that can be carried around are made to work on the things that can catch fire in their general facility. You must have the proper portable fire protection, so if you don’t know what that is, the best thing to do is call in experts who can help you figure it out.
Don’t forget about other safety rules for fire.
Portable fire extinguishers aren’t the only thing OSHA and other groups want you to test and maintain regularly. The emergency lighting system in your building focuses on another crucial annual inspection.
It must be there so that people can find their way to an exit safely. Most of the time, the systems run on batteries, so they need to be tested often to make sure they work in case of an emergency.
There are safety measures to keep you safe, such as portable fire extinguishers and emergency exit lights. It would be easy to just “set it and forget it,” but safety doesn’t work that way. You need to check on these things often to make sure they are ready to do their jobs. Even if they’re never used, the time and effort spent getting them ready are never wasted.
At Brazas Fire, we offer full inspection and maintenance services for fire safety. We’ll make sure your fire extinguishers meet the rules and are ready to use in an emergency. Contact our team at 505-889-8999 or our online contact form if you have any questions.