Do Rental Properties Need Fire Extinguishers?

Picture this scenario: one of your tenants is cooking dinner when suddenly the pot on the stove bursts into flames. A fire extinguisher is nearby, allowing them to quickly extinguish the fire and avoid any devastating consequences.

Having fire extinguishers in your multifamily property can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster. They allow tenants to respond to fire emergencies swiftly and effectively. But are fire extinguishers required in rental properties? The answer varies by location, but the importance of these safety tools is undeniable.

In this guide, we explain the regulations around fire extinguishers in multifamily properties. We also show that these devices are more than just a regulatory checkbox, but a critical aspect of your multifamily property management strategy.

Do rental properties need fire extinguishers?

Most states require fire extinguishers in multifamily properties, or rental properties with more than two units. Single-family and two-family rental properties may not be required to have fire extinguishers.

Here are the factors that go into fire extinguisher requirements:

Legal and regulatory requirements

The legal and regulatory requirements for fire extinguishers vary by local, state, and federal fire safety laws. In Missouri, for example, there is no statewide fire code. This means that there are no set requirements for fire prevention, including fire extinguishers. However, the jurisdictions in Missouri may have set requirements. It’s essential that you are up to date on the specific regulations in your area, helping to avoid any fines or legal liability for not meeting fire extinguisher laws.

Codes and standards governing fire extinguishers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets guidelines for fire extinguisher types, placement, and maintenance. Following these codes ensures your property meets national safety standards.

Fire extinguisher types

There are different types of fire extinguishers designed to combat different classes of fires. The main types include:

  • Water and foam: Effective against Class A fires, which involve ordinary combustible materials like wood, cloth, and paper.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): This is best for Class B fires, which include flammable liquids, and Class C fires, which involve electrical equipment.
  • Dry chemical: These versatile extinguishers can handle Class A, B, and C fires.
  • Wet chemical: Specifically designed for Class K fires, or kitchen fires, which involve combustible cooking fluids.

For multifamily properties, selecting the right type of extinguisher is crucial due to the diverse potential fire sources, from electrical to cooking fires. It is typically recommended to have dry chemical fire extinguishers as they can be used on Class A, Class B, and Class C fires.

Fire extinguisher placement

The NFPA’s guidelines for extinguisher placement consider the property size and the potential size and type of fire. This may affect the number and placement of extinguishers in larger multifamily properties to ensure all areas are adequately covered.

When placing your fire extinguisher, you need to consider:

  • Accessibility: Extinguishers should be readily accessible in the event of a fire, which means placing them in common areas, laundry rooms, and near exits. They may also be required in the unit in locations where fires are likely to occur, such as kitchens.
  • Visibility: They must be visible and not obstructed by furniture or decorations.
  • Travel distance: The travel distance to fire extinguishers will depend on how hazardous the environment is. In general, you should not have to travel more than 75 feet to access a Class A fire extinguisher and 50 feet for a Class B fire extinguisher.

Fire extinguisher maintenance

NFPA standards also outline specific maintenance guidelines for fire extinguishers to ensure they remain functional and effective. This includes monthly inspections to ensure that the extinguisher is in the right place and has not been tampered with. You should also have a qualified professional perform annual maintenance checks to ensure the extinguishers are operating correctly.

Variations in requirements

Requirements for fire extinguishers can vary from one jurisdiction to another. You may be required to have fire extinguishers in all rental units, on each level, or just in common areas. You should consult with your local fire department or building codes to understand your obligations.

Benefits of fire extinguishers in rental properties

Fire extinguishers are more than just meeting regulatory compliance. From ensuring tenant safety to reducing your landlord insurance premiums, they provide numerous benefits.

Early intervention in fire emergencies

Fire extinguishers are a critical component of your emergency response plan. They allow tenants to take immediate action in the event of a fire, preventing it from spreading. You should provide fire extinguisher training to your tenants to ensure that they know the correct steps to take in this emergency.

Protection of property and assets

Fire extinguishers help protect your property from fire damage. By stopping fires early, they help avoid costly repairs and replacements, preserving the value of your investment in the property.

Mitigation of potential injuries and fatalities

The use of fire extinguishers can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in the event of a fire. By controlling or extinguishing the fire quickly, you reduce the chances of tenants or emergency responders being harmed.

Compliance with insurance requirements and potential premium reductions

Insurance companies often require rental properties to have fire extinguishers as part of their policy conditions. They demonstrate a commitment to safety and can reduce the risk of widespread damage in the event of a fire. By having fire extinguishers, you can potentially reduce your insurance premiums and save costs over time.

Are fire extinguishers enough?

While fire extinguishers are crucial, they’re just one part of a comprehensive fire safety strategy in multifamily properties. You should also include smoke detectors in every unit and common area, ensure clear and well-marked evacuation routes, and consider installing sprinkler systems for added safety.

Planned preventative maintenance is vital to ensuring that all fire safety equipment remains in working order. Regularly scheduled checks can identify potential issues before they become hazardous, and maintaining a log of these inspections helps ensure compliance with local fire safety regulations. This proactive approach reduces the risk of fire-related incidents and damages.

FAQs about fire extinguishers in rental properties

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