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What are the distance requirements for portable fire extinguishers?

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November 30, 2019

By Brad Keyes, CHSP (www.keyeslifesafety.com)

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 maximum distance for installation of ABC extinguishers. But they do have standards for maximum travel distance to individual class of extinguishers, such as:

  • Class A: (6.2.1.1) Maximum travel distance: 75 feet
  • Class B: (6.3.1.1) 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 6.1.1.2 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 by exceeding the maximum travel distance for Class B extinguishers (30 feet or 50 feet).

Each month, Brad Keyes, CHSP, owner of Keyes Life Safety Compliance, answers your questions about life safety compliance.



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