A Guide to Sizing Your Fire Extinguisher

There are many factors to consider when installing portable fire extinguishers in your residential or commercial property. Considering how many you need, which class and the location in which you store them are three extremely important factors in ensuring the safety of everyone in your building. But what about the fire extinguisher’s capacity? A fire extinguisher will not only display the class of fire it is capable of putting out, but also the size of the fire it can handle. In this guide to sizing a fire extinguisher, we take a look at what you need to know in order to help you size this important safety device correctly.

Learn How to Read the Label

You will notice that fire extinguishers come in different sizes. This is not just for convenience. Fire extinguisher labels will not only tell you the class of the fire they are capable of putting out but will also tell you how large of a fire they can handle by telling you their water equivalency in gallons. 

Kauffman Co. gives an example on have to read a fire extinguisher label:

“Class A size ratings range from 1 to 40. This tells you the water equivalency. 1 equals 1¼ gallons of water, so in this example, 2A means the extinguisher can put out a fire just as effectively as 2½ gallons of water.”

Consider the Size of the Room

When choosing a fire extinguisher for an individual room in your building, it’s important to stay away from the Class B size rating. This is due to the fact that walls and doors are natural deterrents, and will help to slow the spread of fire. But what about the size and weight of your fire extinguisher?

Guardian Fire Protection Services tells us approximately how large a fire extinguisher should be according to the size of the room:

“For a room of average dimension, a 5-lb fire extinguisher may be sufficient. For larger commercial spaces and warehouses where a fire has more room to spread, a larger 10-lb model may be necessary.”

Capabilities of Employees

Lastly, you will want to consider the capabilities of your employees. It is possible that your employees may not be able to lift a larger-sized fire extinguisher. So although the size of your space may warrant a heavier extinguisher, there may be no use if your employees are not physically able to use it:

Impact Fire Services explains more on why the capabilities of your employees must be taken into account when choosing a fire extinguisher:

“Having a large, high-capacity fire extinguisher will be of no use unless employees are physically capable of lifting and using it. If your extinguisher is too heavy or bulky, depending on the capabilities of the average employee, you could be creating a dangerous situation. As a general rule, most able-bodied people will probably have no trouble using a 5-lb extinguisher. However, once you get heavier than that, it may start to become more difficult for some.”

Fire-Alert takes pride in equipping homeowners, commercial businesses, and government buildings with all necessary fire safety devices to ensure the well-being of families and employees across the nation. Reach out to us using our contact form to find out more.