Q: Are fire extinguishers required to be placed in mechanical rooms in our hospital? I’ve searched NFPA 10 and the Life Safety Code and haven’t found anything concrete. The mechanical rooms in our facility are strictly boiler rooms, electrical control panel rooms, and so on. They are considered restricted areas and are always kept locked, with access granted to just the facilities staff and the security staff. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.
A: Yes, according to sections 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 of the 2012 Life Safety Code, you must be in full compliance with NFPA 10 (2010 edition) for maximum travel distance to the location of a portable fire extinguisher, in all areas of your facility. Each classification of extinguishers has their own different requirements, as follows:
Class A Extinguishers
Maximum travel distance to extinguisher: 75 feet
Maximum floor area for each extinguisher: 11,250 sq. ft.
Maximum floor rating per unit of ‘A’: 3,000 sq. ft. for Light (Low) Hazard
1,500 sq. ft. for Ordinary (Moderate) Hazard
1,000 sq. ft. for Extra (High) Hazard
Class B Extinguishers
Light (Low) Hazard:
5-B 30 feet maximum travel distance
10-B 50 feet maximum travel distance
Ordinary (Moderate) Hazard:
10-B 30 feet maximum travel distance
20-B 50 feet maximum travel distance
Extra (High) Hazard:
40-B 30 feet maximum travel distance
80-B 50 feet maximum travel distance
Class C Extinguishers
Class C fires are started with electrical current, but the actual fuel that burns is either a Class A or a Class B hazard. Therefore, Class C extinguishers should be mounted and located according to either Class A or Class B requirements, depending on the potential fire.
Class K Extinguishers
Maximum travel distance is 30 feet.
Even mechanical rooms where very few people have access are required to be protected with portable fire extinguishers, so make an assessment of what the potential fuel that could catch on fire, and obtain the classification of extinguisher(s) that meets that potential fuel, and space them out accordingly.