All portable fire extinguishers shall be distributed, maintained, inspected and tested in accordance with this policy.

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Authority and Responsibility

Facilities Services - Operations is responsible for:

  1. Performing the required monthly inspection on portable fire extinguishers as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA);
  2. Mounting appropriate brackets and extinguishers;
  3. Replacing inoperable or missing fire extinguishers upon being notified after an annual fire/general safety review, or upon discovery, with extinguishers from the Facilities Services Central Inventory;
  4. Notifying Environmental Health and Safety in the event of a change in building fire loads or occupancy;
  5. Upon being notified, replacing portable fire extinguishers with appropriate types when fire loads and/or occupancy change; and
  6. Scheduling and coordinating with a licensed contractor to perform the required annual inspection, maintenance, and hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers.

Facilities Services – Facilities Services Central Inventory shall be responsible for:

  1. Exchanging portable fire extinguishers when Facilities Operations personnel bring an inoperable or discharged fire extinguisher in to replace.

Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for:

  1. Surveying the entire campus for extinguisher selection and distribution during fire/general safety reviews.

Licensed contractors are responsible for:

  1. Performing annual maintenance and hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers when scheduled; and
  2. Making a report available for the appropriate group when the annual inspection is complete.

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Monthly Inspection

All portable fire extinguishers provided by the University of Chicago shall be placed into a monthly inspection program. The monthly inspection shall be performed by the appropriate department for their responsible facilities.

The monthly inspection shall include a check of the following items:

  1. Confirm the extinguisher is in the proper location;
  2. Confirm the extinguisher is not obstructed;
  3. All seals and pins are in place and have not been removed or tampered with;
  4. If applicable, check gauge to ensure that the pressure is within the operable range;
  5. Examine the extinguisher for obvious signs of physical damage, leakage, corrosion or clogged nozzles; and
  6. Ensure that a current service tag is present on extinguisher.

When the appropriate department personnel discovers that the extinguisher is damaged, missing, or inoperable, they shall remove the extinguisher from service and replace it with an extinguisher of the same rating and size. If the extinguisher is obstructed, the appropriate department personnel shall contact the person whose materials are obstructing the extinguisher and have them remove the materials immediately, or make arrangements to relocate the extinguisher.

Upon completing the monthly inspection, the appropriate department personnel shall date and initial the service tag.

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Annual Maintenance

All portable fire extinguishers shall have an annual maintenance check completed by a contractor or by an in-house service that is licensed by the City of Chicago Fire Prevention Bureau and/or the State of Illinois. All maintenance and hydrostatic testing performed by the service shall be in accordance with Chapter 10 “Portable Fire Extinguishers” of the National Fire Protection Association.

The scheduling of annual maintenance inspections is the responsibility of Facilities Services - Operations.

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Exchange Program

Portable fire extinguishers located within Facilities Services - Operations managed buildings shall utilize the University of Chicago Portable Fire Extinguisher Program. The extinguishers can be exchanged by contacting the appropriate department responsible for the extinguisher program. To contact the appropriate department, use list the following points.

(Buildings Served By; Contact Number)

  • Facilities Services; 773.834.1414
  • Housing and Dining Services; 773.834.1464
  • International House; 773.753.2279
  • Residential Properties; 773.753.2200
  • Medical Center; 773.702.1733 or (5.SAFE)

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When selecting a fire extinguisher, one must be familiar with the classes of fires and fire loading in order to provide the appropriate type of extinguisher.

Classes of Fire

The following descriptions of the classes of fires will help determine what type of extinguisher is needed to extinguish a specific type of fire.

Class A fires involve ordinary combustible such as paper, cloth, wood, rubber and some plastics.
Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, thinners, oil-based paints and greases.
Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment such as computers, copy machines, television sets and video equipment.
Class D fires involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, zinc and potassium.
Class K fires involve kitchen fires that contain cooking oils, and greases.

Fire Loading

The following is a description of the three degrees of fire loading present on campus.

Light (Low) Fire Load: An Occupancy in which Class A combustible materials including furniture, window treatments, and its contents is of minor quantity. Small amounts of Class B flammable liquids such as duplicating and cleaning solvents are included provided that they are kept in closed containers and stored properly.

Ordinary (Moderate) Fire Load: An occupancy in which Class A combustibles, Class B flammable liquids, and Class C energized electrical equipment are in greater amounts than expected under a low hazard. These locations include dining areas, storage areas, parking garages, and assembly halls.

Extra (High) Fire Load: An occupancy in which the total amount of Class A combustibles, Class B flammable liquids, and Class C energized electrical equipment present is over and above those classified as moderate hazard. Theses occupancies and areas include laboratories, cooking areas, trade shops, and warehouses.

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Extinguisher Types

Pressurized Water: The pressurized water extinguisher is the most popular type of extinguisher used for extinguishing Class A fires.

Carbon Dioxide: The carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is primarily used in areas where the potential for Class B and Class C fire loads exist.

Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical: The dry chemical fire extinguisher is used in areas where Class A, Class B or Class C hazards are encountered. This type of fire extinguisher is most common across the campus.

Extinguishing Agents for Combustible Metals: There is no single extinguishing agent or powder that will control or suppress all combustible metal fires. The type of extinguishing agent in a particular area is based on the type of combustible metals being used.

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Extinguisher Labels

All fire extinguishers shall have a label affixed to the front of the extinguisher showing operating instructions and the extinguisher rating.

A pictogram, located on the fire extinguisher label, can be used for identifying the extinguisher’s rating.

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Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers

The following points give the travel distances a person should not exceed in order to obtain a fire extinguisher.

(Type of Hazard; Basic Minimum Extinguisher Rating; Maximum Travel Distance to Extinguishers)

  • Any; A; 75 feet
  • Light (Low); 5-B; 30 feet
  • Light (Low); 10-B; 50 feet
  • Ordinary (Moderate); 10-B; 30 feet
  • Ordinary (Moderate); 20-B; 50 feet
  • Extra (High); 40-B; 30 feet
  • Extra (High); 80-B; 50 feet
  • Any; C; 50 feet
  • Any; D; 75 feet

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Extinguisher Mounting

All portable fire extinguishers shall be installed on brackets or mounted in wall cabinets. Extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 pounds shall be installed so that the top of the extinguisher is not more than five feet from the floor. Extinguishers having a gross weight exceeding 40 pounds shall be installed so the top of the extinguisher is not more than three and one half feet above the floor. The bottom of the extinguisher, in either case, shall not be less than four inches above the floor. Extinguishers shall be mounted by the appropriate servicing group for the building.

Where the extinguisher is likely to be obscured, a sign shall be installed marking the location of the fire extinguisher. The sign shall be visible from a distance of at least 50 feet if the extinguisher cannot be relocated.

Reviewed: October 2022

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