Fire Extinguishers Extinguish an Estimated 5.32 Million Fires in US in 2010
According to the most recent NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) data, in 2010 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,331,500 fires. These fires resulted in 3,120 civilian fire fatalities, 17,720 civilian fire injuries and an estimated $15,478,000,000 in direct property loss.
Of these fires 98,000 were responded to in commercial or municipal buildings. Of the over $11.6 billion in property damage, more than $2.6 billion took place in these non-residential structures. This represents an average loss per reported incident in non-residential / commercial structures of over $34,000.
This only tells a portion of the fire story, however.
Fire Extinguishers Effectively Put Out 80% of All Fires
To highlight the effectiveness of extinguishers in the early stage fire fighting, a 2002 UK study performed by FETA (Fire Extinguishing Trades Association) and IFEDA (Independent Fire Engineering and Distributors Association)5 reviewed over 2100 fire incidents and found that in 80% of the cases a portable fire extinguisher successfully extinguished the fire and in 75% of those cases, the fire department was not required to attend.
A similar survey was conducted in 2002 by EUROFEU (European Committee of the Manufacturers of Fire Protection Equipment and Fire Fighting Vehicles)in 6 European countries and it found strikingly consistent results. In over 2600 incidents recorded it concluded that in 81.5% of cases the portable extinguisher successfully extinguished the fire and in 74.6% of the cases the fire department was not required to attend.
Extrapolating the results of these surveys to the U.S. market provides solid statistical evidence that in approximately 80% of all fire incidents a portable fire extinguisher is the only fire fighting tool needed to extinguish the fire. Further, they indicate that in 60% of all fire incidents the fire department is not notified (and thus the event would not appear in NFPA statistics).
Fire Extinguisher Success Rates (Estimated)
Fires Handled entirely by extinguishers with Fire Department not being notified = 1,997,250
Commercial Strucure fires handled entirely by exinguishers with Fire Department not being notified = 147,000
Estimated savings in avoided property loss in commercial buildings = 147,000 X $34,000 equals $4.998 Billion
Fires in which fire extinguishers were the only needed form of fire supression = 5,326,000
Fires in commercial structures in which extinguishers were the only needed form of fire suppression = 392,000
Although these are only estimates, these numbers make clear that the positive impact of fire extinguishers on society is tremendous. When fire extinguishers are not available to do their job because they are blocked, missing or depressurized, the results can be deadly, catastrophic and costly. en-Gauge's electronic fire extinguisher monitoring solution makes sure these vital life safety devices are available, accessible and working properly.
Fire Extinguishers are your organization's first line of defense against fire and a critical part of your life safety plan. They are designed to put out or control small fires, but it is vital that building occupants understand and get trained on the basics of fire safety and fire extinguisher use.
Why is fire extinguisher training important?
According to the University of Norhtern Iowa:
A fire is the most common type of emergency for which all businesses must plan. A critical decision when planning is whether or not employees should fight a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher or simply evacuate. Small fires can often be put out quickly with a portable fire extinguisher. However, to do this safely, the employee must understand the use and limitation of a portable fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting fires.
What does fire extinguisher training consist of?
For an individual to properly assess and react in a fire situation, Fire Extinguisher Training generally consists of several components.
The components of fire, how fires start and spread.
Understanding the four types of fuel sources for fires. A. General Combustibles like wood, cloth, paper, rubber; B. Flamable liquids, gases, greases, Petroleum products; C. Energized electrical equipment, and; D. Combustible metals like sodium, potassium, magnesium
Types of Extinguishers.
What are they types of extinguisher and which types of fires they can be used on.
How Fire Extinguishers Work.
Components of a fire extinguisher, how they suppress various types of fires, pressure systems, etc.
Rules for Fighting a Fire.
What to do before fighting a fire, understanding what is burning, understanding how to approach a fire, identifying your evacuation path, assessing a fire's progress, etc.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Properly.
How the P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) technique works, why it is important and how it is put into practice..
Fire Extinguisher Training is more than just pulling a pin and squeezing. Implementing a fire extinguisher safety program, informing occupants of the specific building's fire safety procedures, understanding the different classes of fires and different types of fire extinguishers, and receiving training on how to fight a fire CAN save lives. There are many professional organizations that can provide detailed fire extinguisher training for your organization. We encourage all businesses to consider this important life safety step.
Type ABC Fire Extinguisher - This is a multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher.
The ABC type is filled with monoammonium phosphate, a yellow powder that is effective at extinguishing fires that 1. involveordinary combustibles, such as wood, cloth, and paper (Type A Fire Extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire); 2. involve liquids, greases, and gases (Type B fire extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire); and 3: fires involving energized electrical equipment (Type C Fire Extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire).
Monoammonium phosphate leaves a sticky residue after use that may be damaging to electrical appliances such as a computers.
Any fire extinguisher that requires a pressure gauge can be retrofitted with en-Gauge technology. A standard pressure gauge has a component UL listing and so does an en-Gauge enabled pressure gauge. So if your building has Buckeye fire extinguishers and you want to retrofit them, you may. Your new project specifies Amerex extinguishers? No problem.
CO2 extinguishers or cartridge operated units, also not a problem. There’s an en-Gauge collar that can be utilized with these types of units and will monitor for location, position, obstruction and immediate removal.
So as you are looking at the Kidde or Ansul extinguishers in your facility and you want to get them en-Gauge enabled – go right ahead.
en-Gauge is great proponent of Fire Extinguisher Training and believes it is a vital aspect of every organization's life safety program. With that said, we love how Bullex Digital Safety is using innovative technology to improve fire extinguisher training for thousands of people (major bonus, they do so while lowering live training's cost and impact on the environment).
Their Interactive Training System (I.T.S) uses a portable fire system that runs on propane to simulate a fire in its early stages. The program takes advantage of a Type A water extinguisher for the exercises (cutting down on expense and environmental impact, while allowing for quick and easy refills), even though the fire unit can simulate a class A, B or C fire. The system reacts to the technique that the student utilizes when trying to put out the fire and ensures that the student fight the fire effectively. With multiple levels of difficulty, the system can provide a challenge for all students going through fire extinguisher training.
Check out this video for details on how it works:
They also offer a purely digital fire solution (called HotShot) in which students utilize real extinguishers to put out 'digital' fires, while still using real extinguishers. This provides a great solution for situations in which live fire is not an option.
Understanding fire and how to effectively fight it requires fire extinguisher training. With companies like BullEx leading the way, ensuring building occupants are ready in an emergency just got easier.
This past week I stayed in Miami in a boutique size, big chain hotel. My stay at the hotel was terrific. Helpful and friendly staff, clean rooms and well kept facilities made my stay very pleasant, I would gladly stay there again. Even in this well run hotel, however, the fire extinguisher outside my room was empty.
Walking to my room, I noticed the Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher on the 9th floor had lost pressure The pressure gauge read empty. There was no visible means to tell when it was last inspected. The fire extinguisher was in a locked cabinet.
I informed the front desk to the problem on both Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th, and yet the inoperable fire extinguisher remained in service through my return to the hotel on the Wednesday the 22nd.
On Wednesday the 22nd, I again informed the front desk and stressed why having no usable fire extinguishers on the 9th floor was such a bad idea. When I checked on the 23rd, nothing had been done although it was assured it would get fixed.
During both my visits to the hotel there was construction being done on the 9th floor, and the only visible fire extinguisher was the empty, inoperative fire extinguisher close by in the hall. This creates a dangerous workplace situation, as well as a situation where hotel guests are at increased, unnecessary risk.
During my second visit I mentioned this issue to a member of the wait staff while asking who to talk to about this. He said that he was not surprised as there has been “an empty one in the kitchen for months”.
I can’t say how long the fire extinguisher was empty. I can say it showed no signs of vandalism and it may have been inspected to code. It likely just leaked.
I do not know if has been fixed.
Yet again, proof that 30 day fire extinguisher inspections are insufficient.
Fire extinguisher inspection
There are building owners and managers in all sectors who neglect 30 day fire extinguisher inspections, To those that do, I say, you’re making a mistake. You need to respect the fire codes and get the inspection job done or start monitoring your fire extinguishers.
Fire extinguishers and fire systems as a whole are not infallible, buildings need layers of fire protection, fire extinguishers are layer #1 in stopping a small fire from becoming a blaze. Fire extinguishers in commercial structures in the United States stop more than 500 fires everyday* That includes an estimated 20 times everyday in hotels.