Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires

Fire Extinguishers and Sprinkler Systems

Do you know how to properly use a fire extinguisher?

What’s my number one priority? Don’t say “old tennis balls!”It’s safety! Today we are talking about ways to deal with fires. Despite your best prevention efforts, fire remains a very real risk for virtually any residential or commercial property. In previous posts, we have discussed fire hazards in office buildings, to help you identify and prevent hazards. But if a fire breaks out, in spite of your efforts to thwart one, much of the damage can be slowed or stopped if you prepare by securing fire equipment such as a complete sprinkler system and accessible fire extinguishers.

According to research from the smart folks at the NFPA, the chances of an individual dying in a fire protected by the right equipment are reduced by 50-75%, and the average property loss is cut by one-third to two-thirds (34-68%), compared to fires in buildings where there are no sprinklers. In 2008, there were 112,000 fires nationally in non-residential structures which caused a total of more than $3.8 billion in damages. Don’t let your building become another statistic. Instead, take precautions to make sure you have the right equipment on hand.

Fire Sprinkler Systems:

  • The two main types of sprinkler systems are referred to as wet and dry. While both systems use water, many prefer the “dry” systems, since water in dry systems is not stored in pipes, which means it won’t freeze. Instead, it features pressurized air or nitrogen which allows water in via a valve. On the other hand, with a Wet System, pressurized water sits in pipes at all times. Sort of like the difference between wet and dry dog food! (For the record, I eat both.)
  • Proper installation is the key to ensure building protection.
    • The spray pattern of each nozzle needs to be sufficient to cover all areas.
    • A minimum of a 30-minute water supply should be available. A back-up supply is advisable for larger systems. Don’t forget that, in the event of a fire, you and the fire department will be using the same water supply. While you’re making sure water stores are sufficient, maybe you should also stock up on treats to share with the crew’s Dalmatian after the firefight is over?
    • Choose the right temperature rating to make sure the sprinkler matches the expected ceiling temperature of the fire. This is important because proper water temp will prevent costly accidental discharges. Sprinkler bulbs are color-coded to match different temperatures. Your installers should check applicable NFPA codes to be sure the right bulbs are in use.
    • Once the sprinklers are installed, make sure you maintain them.
    • All the hose connections should be checked frequently for corrosion and misalignment.
    • OSHA recommends that a main drain flow test be performed annually.
    • Boxes and other materials could block water coverage. So they should not be stacked close to sprinkler heads.
    • Come to think of it, I might get a fire sprinkler system for the doghouse. I wonder how difficult it would be to rig up the garden hose?

Fire Extinguishers:

  • Tenants and building management should understand that extinguishers should only be used for small fires that are not producing toxic smoke. Assisting in evacuation efforts and personal safety should always come before attempting to use extinguishers.
  • All able-bodied tenants should be instructed on basic fire extinguisher usage. I wish canines could help, but we don’t have opposable thumbs!
  • Fire extinguisher location is important to ensure adequate floor-by-floor coverage.
  • Extinguishers come in several “classes,” including A, B, C, D, and K. Each type of extinguisher is used for a certain type of fire. This is especially important for any tenants that have lots of electronics equipment or toxic chemicals.
  • Check yearly updates from the NFPA on fire extinguisher standards.
  • Extinguisher locations should be clearly marked. Extinguishers should be visible and pressure should be verified.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.


RJ the Fire Dog is the mascot for Allied Universal, the premiere provider for e-based fire life safety training for residents and workers in high-rise buildings. His young son, JR, sometimes takes over writing his posts. RJ also maintains an active Twitter account, which he posts to when he isn’t working in the firehouse. The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50%

3 thoughts on “Fire Extinguishers and Sprinkler Systems

  1. Did you know that in the UK not one single person has died from a fire within a property protected by fire sprinklers?!

    I am really pleased that many states in the US have started to pass the legislation which makes fire sprinklers a mandatory part of certain types of new-build family properties.

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