To make sure you have a thorough fire suppression system, you can’t neglect placing extinguishers in key areas around your business or home. Portable fire extinguishers can be one of the most versatile options to suit many people’s needs, and they come in various sizes. This article covers some of the basic knowledge you need to help choose the right size for you.

While the size of the fire extinguisher is important, you must consider multiple factors to determine the right size for you.

The size of the room matters

When you’re protecting your property from fire, you want to make sure that you have sufficient coverage. Different places of business have different needs. The details of your business building or home determine the size and type of fire extinguisher you need.

Consider placement, equipment, and needs

You obviously want a fire extinguisher anywhere there is a fire hazard. In the kitchen, near open flames, near electronics that can overheat, or at other key locations. Additionally, you may want to consider having one in a public dining area. Or, you may need multiple fire extinguishers if the square footage of your kitchen is large or if the layout includes several angles or spots that aren’t easily accessible. Many businesses also place portable fire extinguishers near exits or in strategic outdoor areas, to make sure that outdoor fires can be easily contained.

Tips to make it easy

Portable fire extinguishers are part of a proper plan.
Prior planning prevents problems during a fire.

Fire extinguisher cabinets can help solve most problems of mounting and easy accessibility. Along with proper emergency lighting, extinguishers can make it easy to keep everyone at your property safe in case of a fire.  

Consider the type of fire that could start

Depending on the type of business you run or the activities that go on in your home, you may need different types of fire extinguishers – or multiple sizes of the same type – to address your fire safety. Cooking oils and other kitchen ingredients can fuel different types of fires than outdoor chemicals, wood, or automotive oil. Even if you have the largest size portable fire extinguisher, if you have the wrong type for the fire you’re dealing with, you might even make the blaze worse.

Inside of a fire extinguisher
The inside of a fire extinguisher

The three main types of fire extinguishers are pressurized water, dry chemical extinguishers, and liquid carbon dioxide. Know which type you need before you consider the size that’s right for the area where it will be placed.

Consider the abilities of your employees or family

Every family and business staff is made up of individuals. Every individual has unique needs and capacities. Consider the people who might need to use a fire extinguisher in an emergency situation – what is their physical capacity to pick up weight? Will they have to carry the extinguisher far, or will they have to go up or down stairs to get to it? Does the placement and size of your fire extinguisher take the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations into consideration?

Tips to make it easy

Make sure that you place the fire extinguisher at a height where it can be reached by anyone who would need to use it. Make sure that it’s not overly heavy or cumbersome to use. Make sure that it is easy to store and easy to find when needed. And lastly, of course, make sure that everyone in your family or on your staff knows how to use the fire extinguisher, in case they ever need to.

Sizes vary by manufacturer and type

Depending on the manufacturer of the fire extinguisher, and the type that you need for your property, your size selection will vary. Some portable extinguishers may be offered in as many as five sizes in one material, and only three materials in another. However, although you may want the smallest, most compact extinguisher for whatever reason, it may not actually meet the needs of the area you want it to meet.

Always consider safety first

Even if the smallest size meets the minimum requirement for the space coverage, is that really the safest option, should a fire break out? Talk to your representative about the size options and how they might benefit your property. Always make sure to check the manufacturer details to make sure that you understand the limits and requirements of your portable fire extinguisher.