Mounting Fire Extinguishes and How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Mounting Bracket

An essential part of reviewing your fire extinguisher provision is the consideration of where to site them and how to fix them in place. Some appliances will come with a mounting bracket supplied, but for others you will need to purchase a fire extinguisher mounting bracket separately. It is beyond the scope of this article to get into how many fire extinguishers you should have for your workplace, or which type you need, so let us assume that you have your supply of the correct number and type of appliances and now you need to go about putting them where they need to be.

The first thing to say is that it is not an option to just leave an extinguisher standing on its own somewhere. It is unprotected, could have knocked over and damaged, or moved from its proper place leaving it unable to be found in an emergency. All fire extinguishers should be fixed in place using either a proper fire extinguisher mounting bracket, or a special stand or cabinet (more on all these later). It is a British Standard that all fire appliances are mounted on either a wall or a proper stand.

Fire extinguishers should always be sited on escape routes, in conspicuous places where they can easily be seen by people. If they need to be in a place where they can not be seen directly, then appropriate signs must be used to highlight where they are. To help you decide where the best place to put extinguishers is, try to think through what would happen in the event of a fire. If you were escaping from a fire in your building, where would you want the fire extinguishers to be so that you can see them and get to them without deviating from your escape route. Their position should encourage people towards the exits rather than pull them back into the building.

It is also a useful guideline to site extinguishers next to call points, so that the alarm can be sounded before tackling the fire. For extinguishers which are being provided to cover specific risks, the extinguisher must be located close to the risk. For example, a wet chemical fire extinguisher for a kitchen with a deep fat fryer. Bear in mind, however, that any such extinguisher must still be accessible if the risk happens. So in the above example, you would not put the extinguisher where you might not be able to get at it if the fat fryer did burst into flames.

It is a good rule of thumb to say you should not have to travel more than 30m from anywhere in your workplace to get to an extinguisher. Take care not to mount fire extinguishers in places where they may be exposed to heat. Most extinguishers will be marked with safe operating temperatures on them, so ensure they are kept within that range.

Types of Mounting Bracket

Most fire extinguishers can be mounted against a wall using a fire extinguisher mounting bracket. The bracket should be fixed so as to result in the fire extinguisher handle being about 1m from the ground. An appropriate fire extinguisher identification sign should be mounted immediately above the appliance. These indicate the type of fire extinguisher and highlight its location.

Some fire extinguishers can be very heavy, so you need a solid wall to fix the bracket to, and fixings which are appropriate for something which is going to take a lot of weight. If you are in doubt about the ability of the wall to withstand such a load, it would be better to use a stand instead (see below).

The main types of fire extinguisher mounting brackets available are Lug Brackets, J Brackets and Shoulder Brackets. J brackets get their name from the fact that the letter J describes their shape. They are suitable for most types of fire extinguisher where the extinguisher's bracket is at the back or the side of the appliance. Shoulder Brackets are so called because they are for fire extinguishers where the bracket is attached at the shoulder (the curved bit between the side and the top). Lug Brackets have a small arm coming out from the wall, with a small metal lug sticking up. These are for locating appliances with a corresponding fitting with a hole that fits on top of the lug.

There are other more specialist types of brackets available, such as the transport bracket, which has a retaining strap to hold the appliance in environments that move around, such as goods vehicles.

Cabinets and stands

There are certain situations where an appliance is required, but it can not be fixed to a wall. This may be because the wall is not capable, or even that there is no wall at all in the place where the extinguisher needs to be. In these situations a fire extinguisher cabinet or stand should be used. As mentioned earlier, it is not acceptable just to leave an appliance somewhere without being either attached to a wall or on a stand.

The option of a stand or cabinet may be the solution if the fire extinguisher needs to be located next to cavity walls, plasterboard, glass, etc. Such stands are free standing and require no fixing at all. They simply stand on their own, and provide a secure position for the extinguisher. They are typically available to hold a single extinguisher or two extinguishers. Cabinets are available for environments where greater protection is required. These are often used in places such as workshops and petrol stations.

Mounting sppliances is a reliably straightforward business, provided you understand the main principles. The main points to remember are to select conspicuous locations on escape routes to site the extinguishers, then adopt the most appropriate method for mounting them, based on that particular environment. If brackets are supplied with your appliances then you can not go far wrong, and if not, just ensure you check the type of bracket that each of your extinguishers is going to require.