Fire Extinguisher Installation
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Apr 17, 2020 1:00:11 AM
Q: During a review of NFPA 10 chapter 6 dealing with the installation of portable fire extinguishers, I couldn't find anything that addressed the installation requirements for ABC extinguishers, such as the maximum distance for installation. Can you help?
A: You are correct in saying NFPA 10-2010 does not have a specific standard that explains the maximum distance for the installation of ABC extinguishers. But they do have standards for maximum travel distance to the individual class of extinguishers, such as:
- Class A: (126.96.36.199) Maximum Travel Distance: 75 feet
- Class B: (188.8.131.52) Maximum Travel Distance: 30 feet or 50 feet, depending on the capacity of the extinguisher and the level of hazard
- Class C: (6.4.3) Class C fires start with electrical current, but the fire is either a Class A fire or a Class B fire. Maximum Travel Distance is based on Class A or Class B standards.
- Class K: (6.6.2) Maximum Travel Distance: 30 feet
Section 184.108.40.206 of NFPA 10-2010, says fire extinguishers with ratings less than those specified are permitted to be installed provided they are not used to fulfill the minimum protective requirements of the standard. This means if you place an ABC extinguisher on a typical nursing unit to meet the maximum travel distance requirements of a Class A extinguisher (no more than 75 feet), just because the extinguisher has a Class B rating also, does not mean the extinguisher is placed incorrectly because you exceeded the maximum travel distance for Class B extinguishers (30 feet or 50 feet).
The assumption is, there is no need for a Class B extinguisher on the typical nursing unit. You place portable extinguishers in facilities based on the maximum travel distance to get to the extinguisher, as well as the capacity of the extinguisher and the potential hazard the extinguisher is expected to protect. If there is no Class B hazard to protect on the typical nursing unit, then an extinguisher with a minimal Class B rating is permitted but not required.
Therefore, extinguishers that are combination classification, such as dry chemical ABC extinguishers could be located at a 75-foot travel distance for Class A hazards, but the same extinguisher would have to be located at the 30-foot (or 50 foot) travel distance if it was protecting Class B hazards.