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How Many Fire Extinguishers Does My Building Need?

NFPA 10 Chapter 6.2 covers the rules required for the installation of portable fire extinguishers in commercial buildings. This is where you can find all the nitty-gritty details about how many fire extinguishers your building needs. The regulations are very particular and a little confusing, so the best way to ensure code compliance is to work with a fire protection company like Unifour Fire & Safety when selecting and installing fire extinguishers.

In the meantime, use this guide to give you an idea of how many fire extinguishers you need based on your building’s size and fire hazard level.

Fire Extinguisher Types & Sizes

Before you buy any fire extinguishers for your building, you must first understand your fire risks, so you know what type and size to purchase.

  • Class A fires are the most common. They are comprised of ordinary combustible products, including wood, paper, plastic, and fabric. Just about every commercial building is at risk for a Class A fire.
  • Class B fires are those that involve flammable liquids or gases, such as gasoline, oil, propane, and kerosene.
  • Class C fires describe those that involve electrical wiring and thus pose the threat of electrocution.

The best way to combat all three of the most common types of fire is to buy multi-purpose ABC fire extinguishers. These have size ratings, which are indicated by a number in front of the letters A and B—for instance, 2A:10B:C. Higher numbers indicate greater fire extinguishing capacity.

Fire Extinguisher Size & Placement Depend on Your Building’s Fire Risk & Hazard Level

The amount of fire risk that exists in a building is known as its fire hazard level. This determines how closely you must position fire extinguishers of a certain size.

Light Fire Hazard

Schools, churches, offices, and hotels are considered light hazard buildings with minimal fire risk.

For Class A hazards, each extinguisher must be 2A or larger with a maximum travel distance of 75 feet between them.

If Class B hazards are present, 10B extinguishers can be positioned within 50 feet of travel, while 5B extinguishers must be placed within 30 feet.

Ordinary Fire Hazard

Fabric stores, dry cleaners, post offices, hardware stores, and parking garages are all examples of buildings with ordinary fire risk. Flammable materials sit closely together, and ignition sources may or may not be present.

For Class A hazards, each extinguisher must be 2A or larger with a maximum travel distance of 75 feet between them.

If Class B hazards exist, 20B extinguishers can be positioned within 50 feet of travel, while 10B extinguishers must be placed within 30 feet.

Extra Fire Hazard

Furniture upholstering shops, assembly plants, die casting facilities, and plastic processing factories have a high quantity of combustible contents, flammable liquids, and ignition sources, increasing their risk of fire.

For buildings with Class A hazards, each extinguisher must be 4A or larger with a maximum travel distance of 75 feet between them.

For Class B hazards, 80B extinguishers can be positioned within 50 feet of travel, while 40B extinguishers must be placed within 30 feet.

Commercial Kitchens

Kitchens are in their own category, requiring Class K extinguishers for cooking fires. If your building features a commercial kitchen, include Class K extinguishers accessible within every 30 feet of travel.

Fire Extinguisher Installation & Replacement in the Southeast

Does your business in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Virginia need replacement fire extinguishers? We can help. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get your Southeast business up to code.