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    Extinguishers: Proper Mounting and Signage Ensures Safety

    By Mark Conroy


    Portable fire extinguishers are installed throughout buildings for potential fires in Class A common combustibles (wood, paper, cloth, etc.). That is because of construction materials, floor coverings (carpets), window dressings, and furnishings. Extinguishers are installed even if a building has a fire sprinkler system. That is because a person can extinguish a fire well before a sprinkler discharges, limiting damage and reducing toxic smoke from a prolonged fire. Extinguishers need to be readily available and accessible. Here are some of the things to look for during annual examinations of extinguishers.

    Extinguisher Signs

    Extinguishers are installed along corridors (that is the normal path of travel) and near entrances and exits. They should be conspicuously located, but if not, signs need to be installed (NFPA 10, 6.1.3.3.2) so building occupants can quickly find them during a fire emergency. 3-D or Standoff signs are a good idea for most corridors, as they can be easily seen from a distance. Many building owners want a sign for each extinguisher, which improves safety.

    Cabinets, Hangers, and Brackets (NFPA 10, 6.1.3.3.4)

    Every extinguisher needs to be secured. That means extinguishers in buildings need to be mounted in one of the following standardized methods:

    • Extinguisher cabinet (surface mount, semi-recessed, or recessed)
    • Hanger intended for the extinguisher (existing hangers often do not match replacement extinguishers)
    • Strap-type extinguisher bracket (for locations where extinguishers could become dislodged)

    Break-Front Panels and Strikers

    To prevent theft and tampering, cabinets with break-front panels are installed. Missing breaker bars and hammers must be replaced to be code compliant (NFPA 10, 6.1.3.10.1). It is also a good idea to have break-front panels readily available to replace damaged or missing ones.

    Extinguishers need to be readily available and marked with signs so they can be easily identified when needed. Using the correct mounting method ensures safety and easy access during fire emergencies. Performing a thorough examination of mounting components, during annual maintenance of extinguishers, will help ensure that building occupants are afforded the best protection, and building owners will benefit from the increased safety of code-compliant extinguisher installations.


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    Mark Conroy is a member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Portable Fire Extinguishers. © 2018 Brooks Equipment.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.