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Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers FAQ

The Ontario Fire Code has specific requirements for the installation of portable fire extinguishers in most buildings, including vacant buildings, with the exception of single-family homes.

How many do I require?

The number will vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the building, number of floors, the use of the building and other factors.

What do the A, B, and C, as well as the numbers, mean on portable fire extinguishers?

The letters indicate the type of fire for which the extinguisher is designed to be used:

  • 'A' extinguishers can be used on normal combustibles such as paper, wood and cardboard, etc.

  • 'B' extinguishers are for flammable liquids, such as grease or gasoline.

  • 'C' extinguishers should be used for energized electrical fires and around electrical equipment.

Many extinguishers will have multiple ratings such as ABC or BC.

The numbers designate the size of a fire that the extinguisher can put out. Examples include a 2A10BC or a 40BC extinguisher. Read the instruction label found on the front of portable fire extinguishers in your building or business to become familiar with their operation and ratings.

I operate a restaurant; do I need a special type of extinguisher?

Kitchens equipped with commercial hoods and fire-extinguishing systems require the use of portable fire extinguishers designed for use with these systems. The newest systems require an extinguisher with a 'K' rating, while older systems may be permitted to use an extinguisher that is of an alkali base and has a minimum rating of 40BC. Multi-purpose, or CO2 extinguishers, should not be used in these kitchens.

Fire extinguishers don't look pretty; can I keep them in a closet or cupboard?

The Ontario Fire Code requires that portable fire extinguishers be mounted so that they are visible and accessible at all times. A highly visible fire extinguisher will help to ensure that it can be easily reached in the event of a fire, and that all staff and customers are aware of its location at all times.

In large warehouses, stores, or where visibility is obstructed, signs should be installed to help guide the way to extinguisher locations.

How often do I need to service my portable fire extinguisher?

The Ontario Fire Code requires that all portable fire extinguishers must be maintained in accordance with NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 10. This means that the extinguisher is to be visually checked monthly for any sign of tampering or damage. Remove the extinguisher from its bracket and examine it closely. Ensure that the extinguisher's gauge is pointing to the 'OK' area, that the protective pin is in place and that there has been no obstructions placed in the hose or nozzle that will affect operation.

Once a year you are required to have the extinguisher serviced by a qualified firm that has tools and materials available to service the unit properly.

What do these companies do when they service the unit?

The service preformed will vary depending on the age of the extinguisher and the type of extinguishing agent. Often, the extinguisher may be serviced on site without the need for removing it from your building. Ensure that the service technician performs a check similar to what you do monthly, as well as additional checks, including weighing the extinguisher. Following the service, a new service tag should be installed showing the name of the company, the technician's signature and the date of service.

For all your fire protection needs, contact Brockville Fire Protection today!

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