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What kind of fire extinguisher and accessories should be kept on hand on a factory floor?

Q:

What kind of fire extinguisher and accessories should be kept on hand on a factory floor?

A:

No matter what kind of work goes on or equipment is used on the factory floor, fire extinguishers are vital safety equipment that all employees, including administration staff, should be trained to operate properly in the event of an emergency.

According to the American National Standards Institute, fire extinguishers are considered the first line of defense in a fire emergency. When a fire is small and manageable, they play an important part in maintaining the safety of the building. If the fire is discovered while it is still small and by someone who is willing and able to properly use the fire extinguisher, it can be prevented from spreading and causing far more damage.

Fire extinguishers can represent an important segment of any overall fire protection program, says the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), but in order to work properly, some conditions have to be met. Fire extinguishers should be located near areas on the factory floor that are identified as having potential hazards, and must be in working order. It's also important to remember that they have a shelf life. The manufacturer will inscribe dates on the extinguishers to show how long the contents will remain viable, but the extinguishers also need to be tested periodically to make sure the product is released correctly when operated.

The specific type of extinguisher needed on a factory floor depends on the type of fire that could occur in that location. Are gasoline or oil products used regularly on the work site? Does the site have power sources where an electrical fire could potentially break out, even if it's unlikely? Is there a lot of trash or paper or wood products that would burn quickly and produce a lot of smoke? Each kind of fire needs a specific kind of extinguisher


Multi-purpose dry chemical is one of the most versatile options. It is suitable for trash, wood and paper, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment fires. These extinguishers typically have an aluminum valve, handle, lever, pull pin, and feature epoxy-coated steel cylinders to resist corrosion, dents, and punctures.

The NFPA, in its NFPA 10 document, provides minimum standards for the selection, inspection, maintenance, recharging, and testing of portable fire extinguishing equipment that are worth consulting. They also maintain a list of obsolete fire extinguishers that should not be relied on for fire safety.

Some of the accessories needed after a person has been trained to use the device include brightly-colored wall signs indicating the location of the fire extinguisher, sturdy and weight-specific wall hooks for the type of extinguisher being used, and tags that indicate maintenance and testing dates.

Finally, national and local fire codes require a certain number of extinguishers for each factory work site, based on the square footage of the site and how close the fire extinguisher is located to the potential hazard. In general, these distances can range from 30 to 75 feet, but codes should be consulted to make sure your company is compliant.

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Written by Terry Creason
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Terry is the National Sales Manager for Wise Safety & Environment.   Full Bio

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