One of the most important things that any homeowner can have on hand in their home is a fire extinguisher. There’s a reason why it’s on many new homeowners’ lists of necessary purchases – not only is it good for your peace of mind, but it can also be the difference between keeping a small fire under control before the fire department arrives or watching a fire engulf your home.
The best way to keep your home safe is to have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor, ideally near the exits, in addition to one in the kitchen and other in the garage. Statistically, most home fires start in the kitchen, so this is the most important spot to keep covered. Fire extinguishers are an important part of a fire response plan but are only effective if they are easy to access in case of an emergency, so it’s important to keep the extinguisher visible and unobstructed.
IMPORTANT: Fire extinguishers should only be used on small fires. Before a fire burns out of control, call 911.
The types of fire extinguishers available are broken down by class:
- Class A: Useful on combustible material like firewood, plastic, cloth, and paper. Ideal to store near a fireplace.
- Class B: Useful when the fire is fueled by gas or liquid like gasoline, ethanol, or propane. Ideal to store in your garage, shed, or workshop.
- Class C: Useful against electrical fires. Take care to NOT use water on electrical fires as it is not effective and could lead to electrocution.
- Class K: Useful against grease fires. Ideal to store under the stove or sink.
If you’re having a difficult time deciding which fire extinguisher class to choose, your best option might be an all-purpose or multi-rated fire extinguisher, which is labeled as “ABC.” This means that it will be effective against any of these three types of fires.
Hire a Professional Fire Extinguisher Technician
While you can check many of these things on your own, the most effective – and legal – way to ensure that your fire extinguishers are up to code is by hiring a licensed fire extinguisher technician. These individuals, like those at Lange Plumbing & Fire Protection, are required by the International Code Council to sit for an exam to be recertified once every three years. This ensures that our technicians stay up-to-date on the latest rules, regulations, and suggestions for fire safety.
What to Do with Old Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers have an expiration date – and especially if yours reaches it before being used up, it’s important to dispose of the canister properly. With proper care, your fire extinguisher can last between 10-12 years. Once it reaches this age, before immediately getting rid of it, get your extinguisher hydrostatically tested to check how the shell will hold up under pressure. If it passes this test, you can get the canister recharged and continue to use it. If it fails, however, the safest thing to do is to replace it.
When to replace a fire extinguisher:
- The canister is damaged
- The hose or nozzle is cracked or clogged
- The pin is missing
- The inspection tag is missing
- The shell fails the hydrostatic test
When it comes time to replace your fire extinguisher, how can you dispose of it safely? If it’s been partially used or is still full when it fails the hydrostatic test, you can call your local Las Vegas fire department to check if they accept expired fire extinguishers. If they don't, you will need to take the canister to a hazardous waste disposal facility. If you have confirmed that it’s completely empty, contact a recycling facility to inquire about dropping off the steel shell for proper disposal.
Do you need the fire extinguishers in your home or business inspected? Do you have more questions about what to do with your old fire extinguishers? Schedule your appointment now by contacting Lange Plumbing & Fire Protection at (702) 500-0936.