Frequently asked questions

Fire Extinguisher

Which type of fire extinguisher(s) do I need for my building?

There are 5 common types of fire extinguishers and each has specific purpose for which fire they are intended to extinguish. Some fire extinguishers are effective against multiple types of fires and some are specific to one type of fire. A building can also have several different types of fire extinguishers located throughout the site. If you are wondering what fire extinguisher(s) you should have for your building and how many, submit your specific question and our team will follow-up-shortly.

What do the letters on my fire extinguisher mean?

Each fire extinguisher has a specific letter or letters on it that indicates which fire they are effective at extinguishing.

  • Class A fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing common combustibles such as wood, paper, textile.
  • Class B fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing flammable liquids such as kerosene, grease, oil, and gasoline.
  • Class C fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing fires that have started from electrical equipment. An important reminder is not to use water or a wet system extinguisher on an electrically started fire. This can cause a deadly shock to the operator.
  • Class D fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing flammable metals.
  • Class K fire extinguishers are effective at extinguishing fires that happen in a restaurant/industrial kitchen because these fires are commonly caused by cooking oils.

Some can extinguish more than one type of fire. These extinguishers have more than one letter to indicate what other fires they are effective against. An example would be an extinguisher labeled B-C which is effective at extinguishing flammable liquids and electrical fires. If you are unsure which extinguisher is best for your site, call 888-274-8595 and we will work with you to create a solution that fits your needs.

Does my fire extinguisher need to be in a cabinet or mounted?

Neither OSHA or the NFPA require fire extinguishers to be mounted or housed in a cabinet but it’s important to be aware of a possible requirement to follow ADA compliances. This requires the fire extinguisher to project out from walls at the height of 27-80 inches above the floor and must not protrude more than 4 inches from the wall into a walk-walk or entryway. It is also important to consider your local jurisdiction fire code and building code since they can vary. We recommend contacting a fire and life safety company to review these factors.

How often does a fire extinguisher need to be inspected?

Following the NFPA guidelines, the frequency of fire extinguisher inspections should be based on the need of the area in which fire extinguishers are located. Inspections should be performed on extinguishers 12 times a year, at least once per month. According to NFPA guidelines "Inspections should be more frequent if you have any of the following conditions:

  1. High frequency of fires in the past
  2. Severe hazards
  3. Susceptibility to tampering, vandalism, or malicious mischief
  4. Possibility of, or history of, theft of fire extinguishers
  5. Locations that make fire extinguishers susceptible to mechanical injury
  6. Possibility of visible or physical obstruction
  7. Exposure to abnormal temperatures or corrosive atmospheres
  8. Characteristics of fire extinguishers, such as susceptibility of leakage."

At minimum, a fire and life safety technician are to inspect your facilities fire extinguishers once a year and verify the previous inspections conducted by your facilities' employee.

Who services my fire extinguisher for my national account?

At APi NSG, our customers have a custom schedule based on each of their facilities. When an inspection is scheduled, one of our fire and life safety technician will visit your site and perform the inspection. If you are not a customer of APi National Service Group, talk to your service provider to learn more.

How do I know when my extinguisher was last tested / inspected?

All fire extinguishers have a tag that contains the information of when each inspection was performed. If you are unsure when the last time all your extinguishers were collectively inspected, it's best to contact your fire and life safety company and request that information. If you find that the tag on the fire extinguisher has not been marked or is missing, please contact your local office immediately.

How and when do I replace my fire extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers, when serviced properly and stored in a protective environment, can last for many years but sometimes things happen, and you need to replace a unit. To find out if your unit needs to be replaced, visually inspect the fire extinguisher and make sure the pressure gauge is functioning and the needle is within the green zone. If the needle is not within the green zone, then it is deemed unreliable and should be serviced or replaced by your local or national service provider. For older models that do not have a pressure gauge, it's recommended that they are inspected by a technician once a year. 

If you notice any of the following with your fire extinguishers, please contact your fire and life safety service provider for a new unit.

  1. Handle is broken or loose
  2. The inspection sticker/tag is missing and are unable to determine the service history of the unit.
  3. The locking pin on the handle is missing, broken or has become loose.
  4. The hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, blocked or missing.

How many fire extinguishers do I need in my building?

The quantity required for your building depends on a multitude of factors. Some of these factors are type, size, classification, and location of the fire extinguishers. Per NFPA, a person should not walk more than 75 feet to reach a fire extinguisher. The best solution is talk with a fire and life safety service provider and determine the best solution that fits your specific needs. If you are an APi NSG customer, contact your National Accounts Specialist or submit a form.

Fire Alarm

Why is my Fire Alarm making a beeping noise?

There may be an issue or notification on your fire alarm panel. If we have a contract with your company, we recommend contacting our APi NSG office and a technician will be on site to assess the situation and propose a solution before leaving the facility.

Does my fire alarm system need to be monitored?

Depending on the occupancy of the building, a fire alarm system is typically monitored by a fire and life safety service provider. When partnered with a national service provider, one company monitors your locations. At APi NSG, we provide nationwide fire alarm monitoring regardless of your company’s square footage or locations. You can find more information on our National fire alarm monitoring page or call us at 888-274-8595.

Do I need a national fire alarm monitoring service for my company?

If your company has a national footprint regardless of the industry, we recommend partnering with a national fire and life safety service provider to ensure you are receiving the most consistent and cost-effective program. APi National Service Group offers national fire alarm service and more! You can find more information on our National fire alarm monitoring page or call us at 888-274-8595.

How often does a fire alarm need to be inspected?

Typically, inspectors enforce an annual fire alarm inspection.   

How long does a fire alarm last?

Assuming your fire alarm has been properly maintained and inspected once or twice a year, a fire alarm can last roughly 10 years. If the fire alarm is more than 20-25 years old, it is recommended that it should be replaced because of technological advancement. Choosing to keep an old fire alarm creates unneeded risk. If a fire were to happen, you want to have confidence that all your fire alarm units work accordingly and are properly connected.

What is the difference between conventional and addressable fire alarms?

  1. A conventional fire alarm system is typically a zoned system with several devices on each zone. Because of this, a conventional fire alarm system works great for small offices, buildings or shops.
  2. An addressable fire alarm system is a much more advanced and highly customizable. It can provide specific information on individual detectors located in larger buildings or complex. During an emergency, information provided on the control panel points to a very specific device location allowing direct response to that area. An example would be a fire has been located on a smoke detector outside office 204. This information is presented on the main display of the control panel or annunciator. 

Do I need a fire alarm system if I have a fire sprinkler system installed?

A fire alarm system provides early warning and notification of a fire. While a fire sprinkler system controls a fire. The two systems work in conjunction with each other to provide detection, notification and control of a fire.

Why do I need national fire alarm monitoring?

A national fire alarm monitoring program are for large companies or management groups who have a national/regional footprint. The benefit of a national program is that one company handles all your sites for fire alarm monitoring rather than several smaller companies. If an emergency were to every happen, a fire and life safety service provider will notify you and the local fire department. APi NSG provides national fire alarm monitoring service and is UL listed. Visit our National fire alarm monitoring  page or call us at 888-274-8595 to start the conversation. 

How does a national fire alarm monitoring service work with thousands of fire departments?

Fantastic question! Our fire alarm monitoring system is integrated with each of your building's system. When the alarm is triggered, the system sends a signal to the programmed destinations and alerts everyone involved. On our end, we receive a notification immediately and our operations team works with your local contact and fire department through the situation.

Fire Sprinkler

Do all my fire sprinklers need to be inspected?

Yes, all fire sprinklers need to be inspected visually from the floor for obstruction, painted heads, or any physical damage to the sprinkler.

Does every fire sprinkler go off during a fire?

No. Hollywood has done an excellent job at creating this myth, but a fire sprinkler will activate once the glass bulb, filled with liquid, breaks from the heat. The only way a fire sprinkler will be activated is with heat within its coverage area.

How often does my fire sprinkler system need to be inspected?

This depends on a few factors such as local requirements, national, and insurance requirements. The frequencies can range from weekly to annually and everywhere in between. If you are wondering what frequency you fall into, give us a call at 888-274-8595 or submit a form and we’ll ease your mind.

How can I prevent rust (corrosion) in my fire sprinkler system?

Corrosion is a common failure in fire sprinkler systems. Ultimately, corrosion requires water, iron, and oxygen and if you eliminate one than you prevent or reduce corrosion. While it sounds simple, it’s a complex process and there are many solutions available on the market today. We recommend contacting our fire and life safety professionals to help you find a solution that fits your needs.

How many fire sprinkler units does my building need?

This is dependent on the square footage of your site and how many zones you will have based on the layout of your building/floor. To help give you an idea, a typical range is from 120SF to 225SF per head depending on the occupancy hazard of your facility.

Who maintains my national fire sprinkler systems?

At APi National Service Group, we proactively schedule maintenance at your site to meet local code requirements and our local service technician will perform the necessary service.

Can fire sprinklers be activated by smoke?

No, a fire sprinkler and smoke detector are two separate systems. Fire sprinklers are activated by heat and a standard fire sprinkler system has a glass bulb near the head. When the temperature reaches a specific point, the glass bulb will break, and water will start to flow. Only a smoke detector will be activated with smoke.

What are the most common types of fire sprinkler systems?

  1. Pre-action Fire Sprinkler System
  2. Dry Pipe Fire Sprinkler System
  3. Wet Pipe Fire Sprinkler System
  4. Deluge Fire Sprinkler System

Which fire sprinkler system is best suited for my site?

  1. There are four common types of fire sprinkler systems and each is uniquely designed to control a fire. A common misconception are fire sprinkler systems containing water in the pipes which is not always true.
    1. Pre-action fire sprinkler systems are typically used in data centers, libraries, museums, vaults and more. These systems are filled with compressed air and when two triggers are activated, typically by a smoke detector or heat detector, water then fills the pipe and discharges water through whichever sprinkler head has been activated. A pre-action fire sprinkler system is desirable in areas sensitive to water damage because there is a low risk of an accidental discharge because of system redundancy. To learn more about pre-action systems, visit the fire protection blog for more information.
    2. Dry Pipe fire sprinkler systems are commonly used in areas that have temperatures that go below 40⁰F. These systems are filled with air rather than water to prevent freezing. Once activated, water flows through the pipe to the sprinkler head that has been tripped to contain the fire. Buildings that typically have a dry pipe system are warehouses, refrigerated warehouses, dry docks, bank drive-thru services and more.
    3. Wet Pipe fire sprinkler systems are the most common of fire sprinkler systems. Upon activation, water is immediately discharged onto the surrounding area and there is no delay unlike a pre-action or dry pipe system. A wet pipe system can be accidently activated by damage to the fire sprinkler head or a leak in the pipe can cause damage to the area around it.
    4. Deluge fire sprinkler systems are similar to a pre-action system where the pipes are dry, kept at atmospheric pressure, and require an additional trigger before being activated. This system is generally used in areas that a fire can rapidly spread with high intensity.  Areas that Deluge fire sprinkler systems work best for are chemical plants, processing plants, energy plants, fuel storage facilities and others alike.