Fire safety is crucial in any setting, whether at home, in the workplace, or in public spaces. While you hope never to need it, how you store your fire extinguisher is paramount. If something does happen, you want your fire extinguisher to function appropriately and effectively. To guarantee this outcome, it is recommended that you practice the best possible storage techniques. This takes us back to our original question: Can fire extinguishers be stored on their side?
Yes, most modern fire extinguishers can be stored on their side because the contents are pressurized enough, and the storage angle won’t cause the system to leak. However, the best way to determine if your extinguisher can be stored on its side is to refer to the owner’s manual. A non-pressurized fire extinguisher likely states that it should be stored upright for optimal performance.
What Rooms Should Have Fire Extinguishers at Home?
With so many flammable items in the average house, fires can rage out of control in seconds. Be it a small spark from an electrical malfunction or an uncontrollable kitchen flame, the destruction caused by fires can be overwhelming.
While it pays to install smoke alarms throughout your home, fire extinguishers are another essential tool in your home safety arsenal.
Having easily accessible fire extinguishers is the best approach to halt the spread of an incipient stage fire: a fire that has just sparked. With different areas in your house posing specific risks, more than one extinguisher is required.
Here are places in your home where mounting a fire extinguisher could be a lifesaver in the event of a house fire:
Kitchens are the most common sources of house fires because of high heat, flammable oils, gas, and electrical appliances constantly in use. To protect against these concerns, keep a portable fire extinguisher nearby.
The kitchen fire extinguisher must be safe from the stove (usually 30 feet) to guarantee ease of access during an emergency. It should not be placed near the stove, where flames and smoke could hinder access. If your kitchen space is limited, you can mount the extinguisher on a wall in the adjacent room as long as it is within reach.
Your garage goes beyond a mere parking space; it also serves as a storage area, tool shed, or workshop. As such, it is typically full of flammable materials like gasoline, paint, and oil, posing a huge fire hazard.
The presence of these combustible materials increases the risk of fire incidents, where even a tiny spark could ignite them. Knowing this, you should keep a working fire extinguisher close by to keep any sparks from resulting in serious fires. Don’t forget to confirm that your extinguisher is labeled for combustible liquids.
- Living Room
The living room is often used as a family gathering spot. It is usually furnished with electronics, soft rugs, and a fireplace, among other amazing items. Although these items are crucial for a comfortable living space, they pose a huge risk because of their combustibility.
A stray spark from a fireplace can catch onto a soft rug, and flawed wiring in an electronic device can instantly ignite, making it necessary to have a fire extinguisher in the living room.
- Laundry Room
While most house fires emanate from the kitchen, the laundry room is also a common source. The high heat produced by the dryer, along with the potential for lint build-up, can create a fire hazard.
Washer motors may overheat, while electrical outlets can short, triggering a fire. Keep a heavy-duty fire extinguisher in your laundry room to prevent fire from spreading.
Staying safe while asleep is a top priority, so having a Class A fire extinguisher in the bedroom is a prudent choice. Fires can start even when you’re sleeping: candles can tip over, cigarettes can drop on the bedding, devices can overheat, or defective wiring can ignite a flame. Whichever location the fire starts in your home, it’s good to be ready to fight it.
- Attic or Basement
Attics and basements are frequently used to store old furniture, boxes of unused items, seasonal decorations, and, in some cases, heating equipment.
These spaces are often disregarded when it comes to fire safety. The risk further escalates, considering old, faulty wiring may run through these locations.
- Near the Barbecue
Cooking outdoors on a grill or barbecue is a great way to enjoy delicious meals with family and friends. Unfortunately, open flames, combustible oils, and gas tanks make the area near your grill a possible fire hazard.
A small fire can spread rapidly and get out of control, particularly if it falls onto nearby items such as dry plants. Have a fire extinguisher nearby when cooking outdoors to contain a fire before it becomes unmanageable.
How to Store Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers must be stored appropriately to ensure easy access in an emergency. Proper storage of these lifesaving devices can also maintain their effectiveness. Here are the best practices for storing your fire extinguisher:
Install the Fire Extinguisher In the Right Location.
Fire extinguisher location is crucial for ensuring an extinguisher is readily accessible in the unfortunate event of a fire. The location and distance requirements vary depending on the size of the area, the fire extinguisher type, and the locations of fire hazards.
Consider these practices:
- Know the correct type of fire extinguisher for each area of your home or workplace, depending on the potential hazards (regular flammable materials, electrical equipment, and so on).
- Confirm the maximum travel distance mandated by the National Fire Protection Association. This refers to the farthest an individual should travel before accessing a fire extinguisher, and it varies based on the class of extinguisher and the type of hazard.
- Pay close attention to high-risk areas.
Store Extinguishers In the Right Position and Temperature
Modern fire extinguishers are rated to perform exceptionally well in a wide temperature range. Fire extinguishers should not be stored in freezing temperatures, as doing so can result in a cracked valve or hose.
Store your fire extinguisher vertically to ensure the dousing agent and propellant are correctly balanced, maximizing the extinguisher’s functionality when in use.
For modern fire extinguishers, the storage angle doesn’t matter because their contents are under pressure, and storing them horizontally won’t cause leaks.
Maintain Accessibility and Visibility of Fire Extinguishers
One of the most critical aspects of storing fire extinguishers is ensuring they are accessible and visible to everyone. Consider these tips for storing a fire extinguisher:
- Always clear the areas in front of the fire extinguisher of obstructions.
- Mount your fire extinguisher so the carrying handle is 3.5 to 5 feet from the ground for universal accessibility.
- Install a sign or other form of identification atop a portable fire extinguisher.
- Mount extinguishers on the wall using appropriate brackets or designated holders to keep them from being knocked over.
- Consult with the owner’s manual for specific storage instructions offered by the manufacturer. Fire extinguishers come in different types, and each may have unique requirements.
Store your fire extinguisher in a dry place away from moisture. Exposing a fire extinguisher to moisture can lead to rust, weakening the metal and reducing its effectiveness.
- Inspection and Maintenance
It’s always good to inspect and maintain your fire extinguishers to ensure they function. Conduct monthly inspections to examine if the unit has any physical damage or leaks and check that the pressure gauge is within the right range.
Besides monthly inspections, fire extinguishers must be serviced annually by a qualified technician. The technician should inspect your extinguisher for physical damage, replace the pressure gauge if needed, and recharge the extinguisher.
Can You Store Fire Extinguishers Outside In Freezing Temperatures?
If you’re looking to invest in a fire extinguisher, you’ll want it to work correctly when you pull the pin, aim the nozzle, and squeeze the lever. These require careful planning in terms of location and proper storage. You can store your fire extinguisher outside in cold temperatures, but it’s not always recommended.
- Fire Extinguisher Storage Temperatures
Fire extinguishers should be kept in temperatures between -40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure optimal performance. Storing your extinguisher at freezing temperatures can lead to cracked hoses and valves, and depending on the model, freezing can occur.
Water-mist extinguishers, Class A extinguishers, Class K extinguishers, and those using AFFF foam as the extinguishing agent will freeze in temperatures below -40 degrees.
The standard fire extinguisher for home use, the ABC extinguisher, can withstand low storage temperatures. Other models fairing better in freezing temperatures are those using pressurized water with antifreeze, CO2, halon, and other dry chemical fire extinguishers.
- Fire Extinguisher Classes
Fire extinguishers come in different types, each rated according to the type of fire it can extinguish. Not all of them are effective against all classes of fires. This means they can be dangerous if used to smother fires, which they’re not intended for. Knowing the type of extinguisher to use around your property is very important.
Here are the different classes of fire extinguishers:
- Class A: Fire extinguishers rated as Class A are suitable for fires caused by combustible solid materials like wood and paper.
- Class B: These are best for flammable liquid fires, including oil-based paints, petroleum greases, alcohols, and solvents. They are also suitable for flammable gases like hydrogen, butane, and propane.
- Class C: These extinguishers are suitable for fires involving electrical equipment, such as an appliance, connected to an electrical source.
- Class D: Extinguishers rated as Class D are used for extinguishing burning metals, often in warehouses, labs, and factories.
- Class K: These are best for kitchen fires.
What Is the Maximum Distance Between Fire Extinguishers?
The maximum distance between fire extinguishers varies based on the type of extinguisher, the class of fire it is meant to extinguish, the specific hazards in the area, and more. Generally, the travel distance to reach a fire extinguisher should be at most 75 feet (nearly 23 meters).
This estimate is based on the assumption that an individual can travel about 75 feet in approximately 10 to 15 seconds. This is considered a reasonable response time during an emergency. The idea is to facilitate easy access to a fire extinguisher within a reasonable distance to suffocate a fire before it gains momentum.
However, it must be noted that this travel distance (75 feet) is a general recommendation, and local regulations or specific conditions can impact the required spacing of a fire extinguisher.
Therefore, it would be better to consult with local authorities and comply with any relevant safety standards or building codes for precise guidelines on the spacing of fire extinguishers. Also, consider your space layout and install fire extinguishers in locations offering optimal accessibility and coverage in the event of a fire.
How Often Do Fire Extinguishers Need to Be Serviced?
It is best to inspect your fire extinguisher monthly. These monthly inspections don’t have to be significant: check that the unit is in good condition and that the pressure gauge is within the recommended range. However, more significant checks demand the help of a professional at least once per year.
Here’s what monthly visual inspections of fire extinguishers entail:
- Check for any indications of damage, like corrosion, leakage, or any signs that the extinguisher has been tampered with.
- Check that the pressure dial on the fire extinguisher is in the green zone. This implies that the unit is ready for use in case of a fire.
- Lift the fire extinguisher to ensure it feels full.
- Check for a broken handle, missing locking pin, and cracked nozzle or hose.
- Check that the service labels are intact.
These are the things you should consider when visually inspecting your fire extinguisher monthly.
Annual fire extinguisher inspections:
A qualified fire extinguisher engineer should perform a full inspection of your device annually to ensure it works as expected. The professional will do a thorough maintenance check and necessary repairs, among other things.
Extended fire extinguisher service:
The National Fire Protection Association mandates that you do extended servicing on your fire extinguisher. Whether this is done every five or ten years depends on the fire extinguisher type you have.
If you have water, foam, or powder extinguishers, you should have an extended service every five years. The extended service includes the following:
- A discharge test
- Repressuring and refilling
- Valve overhaul and servicing
- All the elements included in the annual service
Those with CO2 fire extinguishers must perform an extended service every ten years. The extended service of CO2 extinguishers includes the following:
- Replacing the main valve
- Hydraulic testing, also known as the stretch test
- Sending back the device to an approved center for testing.
How to Tell If Your Fire Extinguisher Is Still Good
You can tell that your fire extinguisher is in good working order by doing the following:
- Check for an expiration date: Check for a paper tag on your fire extinguisher showing a maintenance record. It might not connote an expiration date, but if the oldest date is more than a decade ago, your extinguisher’s days are numbered, and it may already have lost its capacity to combat flames.
- Inspect the pressure gauge: Check the needle within the green zone. If so, schedule a monthly reminder on your calendar to keep inspecting the pressure gauge. A needle in the red zone indicates that it needs to be serviced.
- Store your fire extinguisher in a clean area: Sun, rain, wind, and UV radiation exposure can result in corrosion and deterioration. Keep your fire extinguisher away from dusty or dirty environments, as these can impair the extinguisher’s ability to function optimally.
- Know the warning signs: Some signs can tell you that your fire extinguisher won’t work regardless of its age. For instance, if the canister is bruised or the tamper seal is missing, the extinguisher may spontaneously explode. Inspect the entire device, and if it’s in poor condition, dispose of it immediately.
Please take it to your local hazardous waste collection site or fire department. As a general rule, you should never dispose of a fire extinguisher in the trash or recycling bin as it still has dangerous, pressurized chemicals that can explode or contaminate the earth. In some jurisdictions, improper fire extinguisher disposal is subject to a fine.
Fire extinguishers are an excellent addition to any environment, whether a residential space, workplace, or public facility. They are designed to combat flames in their early stages, saving lives and valuable possessions. However, questions often arise about their storage requirements. So,
Can Fire Extinguishers Be Stored On Their Side?
Well, modern fire extinguishers are pressurized enough, so it doesn’t matter whether you store them horizontally or vertically. However, older models mostly recommend that they should be stored upright to guarantee maximum performance. It’s best to check the owner’s manual to ensure the proper storage of your particular fire extinguisher model.