Fire Extinguisher Labels
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Types of fire extinguisher labels

In emergency situations, people often need to make snap decisions. Although personnel from fire or police departments are experts in such scenarios, emergency situations often force decision-making before first responders have time to arrive on the scene. As a result, responsibility often falls on an untrained and unprepared bystander. Fire extinguisher labels are a good way to help individuals in these high-stress situations quickly figure out what condition the extinguisher is in and how to operate it correctly. Proper use of a fire extinguisher will help minimize injury and property damage if a hazard arises.

In order to prepare your facility for an emergency, it's important to understand the different categories of labels and how they can provide security and instruction in perilous situations. Listed below are three of the main types of fire extinguisher labels.

1. Inspection Labels

Most buildings in the United States are required to install and maintain fire extinguishers. These extinguishers are typically inspected by the local fire department at regular intervals to ensure proper functionality. Regular inspections are extremely important – if not maintained properly, fire extinguishers can fail to discharge or even rupture, causing harm or even death to users.

To minimize faulty extinguishers, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) mandates that employers maintain a yearly record of inspections and conditions of all fire extinguishers. Hence, inspection labels, which can be affixed to fire extinguishers to keep track of inspection dates and highlight the condition (i.e. if repairs are necessary), are invaluable.

2. Class Labels

Different types of extinguishers are powered by different types of fuel, usually dry chemicals or foams. Depending on the type of fire, some agents will be more effective against the flames.

Fire Extinguisher Label Types
Class labels quickly identify the type of flame the fire extinguisher is made to put out.
Fire Class Classification Fuel Picto
Class A Ordinary Combustibles (wood, cloth, rubber, plastics) Ammonium Phosphate Garbage Can and Wood Pile Burning
Class B Flammable Liquids/Gases (gasoline) Sodium/Potassium Bicarbonate Fuel Container and Burning Puddle
Class C Electrical Equipment (cables, machines) Sodium/Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride Electric Plug And Burning Outlet
Class D Combustible Metals (titanium, magnesium, lithium) Arctic Fire Foam Burning Gear and Bearing
Class K Cooking Oil or Fat (olive oil) Wet Chemicals, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate. None

Class labels are essential in helping users know which fire extinguishers work best for certain fires. These labels are made from laminated vinyl and often feature the fire class, text denoting the extinguisher's classification, and a symbol (known as a picto). For instance, a label could denote a Class A extinguisher with a large letter "A," text with the words "paper" or "wood," and a picto of a garbage can and woodpile burning.

3. Guidance Labels

Few people know how to operate a fire extinguisher. However, a clear set of operating instructions can resolve that issue. Most fire extinguishers have a guidance label that tells users how to properly use the extinguisher. These labels communicate instructions in as few words as possible – usually a variant of "pull pin and squeeze handle" and "sweep side to side". This way, in case of a fire, a quick-thinking individual can easily comprehend how a fire extinguisher works and hopefully contain any danger.

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