Testing and Inspections have become big business.
Fire alarms are a highly regulated and closely watched part of our everyday lives. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Building Code (IBC) and countless other code writing bodies have always included the mandatory annual testing of fire alarm systems as a means of good and proper Life Safety living.
Who is permitted to test Fire Alarms? From a single family home to a downtown high-rise, the codes have the answers.
Reliable fire safety equipment is part of every smart business plan. Below are the minimum business recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10). Many cities and states require fire extinguishers with a minimum UL rating of 2-A:10-B:C in buildings. Check with your local fire authorities for the building code requirements in your area.
- Low Hazards – A 2-A: 10-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For offices, churches, assembly halls, classrooms and hotel guest areas. Class A-B-C
- Medium Hazards – A 3-A:40-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For light manufacturing facilities, dining areas, auto showrooms, parking garages and storage areas. Class A-B-C
- High Hazards – A 4-A:60-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For manufacturing facilities with processes involving flammable liquids, boat and vehicle services, and woodworking processes. Class A-B-C
What Size Fire Extinguisher Should you Purchase?
NFPA 10, 2013 Edition recommends the following:
E.3.5 The area that can be protected by one fire extinguisher with a given A rating is shown in Table E.3.5. These values are determined by multiplying the maximum floor area per unit of A, shown in Table 184.108.40.206, by the various A ratings until a value of 11,250 ft² (1045 m²) is exceeded.
Fire Extinguisher Location/Placement
The NFPA 10 - Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers gives specific instruction on the proper location and placement.
Fire extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they are readily accessible and immediately available in the event of fire.
Fire extinguishers shall be located along normal paths of travel, including exits from areas.
Fire extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 lbs. shall be installed so that the top of the fire extinguisher is not more than 5 ft. above the floor.
Fire extinguishers having a gross weight greater than 40 lbs. shall be installed so that the top of the fire extinguisher is not more than 3-1/2 ft. above the floor.
In no case shall the clearance between the bottom of the fire extinguisher and the floor be less than 4 inches.
How to Use Fire Extinguisher
Stand 5 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure recommended by the National Fire Protection Association:
P - Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
A - Aim low at the base of the fire.
S - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. (When the agent first hits the fire, the fire may briefly flare up. This should be expected.
S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.