Often, it is required or just plain safer to mount a fire extinguisher outside accessible to customers, employees, and first responders. The most common example is near gas pumps but they are found outside airports, plants, hospitals and many other commercial establishments. If you need to mount an extinguisher outside an outdoor extinguisher cabinet will protect it from the weather, temperature, and those same customers and employees prone to accidents. But did you know you have options when it comes to outdoor extinguisher cabinets?
This article focuses on the benefits of outdoor extinguisher cabinets, the options available including plastic and heavy-duty metal cabinets, and an introduction to the reasons why protecting your outside fire extinguisher is so important. Not what you are looking for? Skip ahead to a side by side product comparison table to find your next outdoor extinguisher cabinet by clicking here.
An outdoor fire extinguisher cabinet in Columbus, Ohio.
If you are on the fence about buying a cabinet for your outdoor fire extinguisher start by considering the following. Outdoor extinguisher cabinets protect your fire extinguisher from theft. Because they are meant to be kept in areas where the public can access them, fire extinguishers are easily stolen. Since it is often required for businesses to maintain accessible fire extinguishers on their property, you can see the problem theft can cause. Outdoor fire extinguisher cabinets come equipped with a safety lock and key preventing anyone from walking away with your fire extinguisher.
When it comes to ensuring the proper function of an outdoor fire extinguisher, mother nature is not your friend. Prolonged sun exposure tends to fade the extinguisher's inspection and instruction label. When an inspector comes to check your extinguisher and sees the faded label, he or she will remove the extinguisher from use until you have replaced the label. Each extinguisher includes instructions printed on the body which can also fade if left unprotected in the elements, making it very difficult to read during an emergency. However, fading pales in comparison to the damage moisture can cause when not properly protected. When moisture builds up, oxidation occurs causing parts to fail and the chemical agents found in your fire extinguisher to lump. At that point, your extinguisher is a large, red paperweight. Additionally, moisture build-up causes corrosion, which will lead to your fire extinguisher being condemned, and in some unlucky cases, physical harm to the user.
Just as nature can damage your fire extinguisher, so can humans. Accidents - like knocking the extinguisher off its mount to the ground - are bound to happen. What is worse though are the people who do it intentionally. Encasing your fire extinguisher within a locked cabinet can prevent vandalism, tampering and misuse, which inevitably leads to an expensive mess like this example from Australia.
Fire extinguisher used to spray graffiti (image source)
Lastly, cabinets make it easier to spot a fire extinguisher in an emergency. If you are in a crowded area, finding a 10-lb fire extinguisher mounted randomly can be quite difficult. Cabinets are large and bright (normally red but sometimes white) with large decals, making them easier to identify.
As you can see, the list of benefits that a cabinet can provide your outdoor fire extinguisher is long. It is important to note that each of the listed benefits will save you money. If your fire extinguisher is condemned because of a water damage, stolen, or otherwise out of service, you will need to replace it. And what does it take to replace a fire extinguisher? Money and time. Protecting your current fire extinguisher will prolong its life and avoid unnecessary expenses and time wasted.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which recommends fire-specific building codes, does not specifically address outdoor fire extinguisher cabinets but does provide code recommendations for extinguisher cabinets, regardless of their physical location. Per NFPA 10, a fire extinguisher cabinet should remain unlocked unless it is subject to malicious use. Keeping your fire extinguisher outside is, in our opinion, subjecting it to malicious use which qualifies for a lock and key cabinet. The NFPA also states that cabinets should be marked conspicuously. Lucky for you, most outdoor fire extinguisher cabinets come standard with multiple easy-to-read "Fire Extinguisher" decals (which we offer standalone here).
It is important to note that there are no federal regulations requiring outdoor fire extinguishers to remain within a cabinet, but some local jurisdictions do have those requirements. Therefore, it is crucial that you check with your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to identify any local rules specific to your area.
When it comes to choosing an outdoor fire extinguisher cabinet, you do have a couple different options. The least expensive option is a plastic cabinet. They don't rust, they are free from sharp corners, and the paint does not chip. They are equipped with a lock and key covered by a weather-proof protective plug so no need to buy a padlock! Plastic fire extinguisher cabinets come in bright red or white with multiple extinguisher decals making them very easy to see.
On the other hand, the benefits of heavy duty outdoor cabinets are summed up in the name: they are heavy duty. They are rust and weather resistant featuring a sloped roof to facilitate rain runoff. While they are more expensive than plastic, their durability is well worth it. As we like to say, a heavy-duty outdoor cabinet is the last outdoor fire extinguisher cabinet you will ever need. Like plastic, they are easy to see with their bright red paint and large "Fire Extinguisher" decals.
If you are torn between which one better meets your needs, here is a handy side by side comparison:
|Plastic Fire Extinguisher Cabinet||Heavy Duty Fire Extinguisher Cabinet|
|Plastic Cabinets are body and frame injection molded of virgin high-impact crystal polystyrene designed to inhibit (slow down) UV rays. Virgin acrylic Plaskolite panel is etched to break quickly in an emergency. Comes standard with brass safety lock and key with protective lock cover, ribbed grip polypropylene plastic hammer, and steel mechanical cable.||Heavy Duty Cabinets are made from 16 gauge galvanized steel treated with phosphate and sealed with red acrylic enamel finish. Features weather-resistant gaskets, a full-length piano hinge with two roller ball catches, safety locks, and a sloped roof to facilitate run-off.|
You have been presented with a list of reasons why an outdoor fire extinguisher cabinet is a worthwhile investment, the relevant NFPA codes, and what to consider when looking for one. As the table above indicates, at QRFS we offer both plastic and heavy-duty outdoor fire extinguisher cabinets. You can be assured when you order either model, we will deliver a high-quality outdoor extinguisher cabinet designed to withstand the worst Mother Nature can throw at it. And did we mention we ship really, really fast? We do! On average, an order is shipped within 4 hours from the time you place it.