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Fire Extinguisher vs. Fire Suppression Canister: A Beginner’s Guide

Preventing apartment fires depends on the actions of every resident, but as the apartment building owner, the responsibility ultimately rests on you. Apartment fires can spread quickly if not suppressed immediately, and they account for 10 percent of residential fire-related deaths in the U.S. 

There are many ways that you can reduce the risk of fires within your building, including:

  • Regularly inspect the electrical lines to look for damaged or frayed lines that could create sparks and cause a flame. It’s also important to remind tenants not to overload outlets with adapters or to use extension cords as a permanent solution — particularly under carpeting or rugs.
  • Make sure fireplaces are cleaned out at least once every season to prevent the accumulation of potentially flammable chemicals.
  • Prohibit smoking in your building, and do not allow residents to grill on their balconies.
  • Make sure you have a written policy on the use of candles, which includes keeping candle fixtures away from flammable objects such as curtains and bedding.
  • Inspect shrubbery around the building — especially during dry seasons — to make sure it isn’t dry, which makes it easier to catch fire.

Even when taking such precautions, the risk of fire still exists. That makes it critical to ensure that every apartment unit is properly equipped to help suppress fires when they break out.

Fire Extinguishers for Apartment Buildings

Fire extinguishers are an essential tool for fire prevention, and every apartment should have at least one. However, it’s just as important that residents know how to use it. Consider providing periodic training sessions for your tenants to review the proper way to use fire extinguishers.

It’s also critical that apartments are equipped with the right type of fire extinguisher, since different classes of extinguishers are used for different types of fires. The classes of fire extinguishers are:

  • Class A – Effective for fires involving combustible objects such as wood and paper
  • Class B – Can be used on flammable liquids like grease, gasoline and oil
  • Class C – Should only be used on electrical fires
  • Class D – Designed for use on flammable metals
  • Class K – Specifically for food products like cooking oils and animal fats

While a Class A fire extinguisher is great for fires in a home office, it won’t be effective in a kitchen fire, so another solution is to buy a multipurpose extinguisher. These are usually A-B, B-C or A-B-C and help avoid confusion about where the device can be used.

Understanding the Limitations of Fire Extinguishers

Even if you have the right fire extinguishers in the right locations in the apartment, and residents are trained on how to use them, the safety of your building still relies on tenants being able to catch the fire while it is still contained, reach the extinguisher and safely put out the fire.

In apartments, the No. 1 cause of fires is cooking. Almost three-fourths of all apartment fires start in the kitchen, and they’re most often the result of leaving a stove unattended, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In more than half of the cooking fires between 2013 and 2017, injuries occurred when people tried putting out the fire themselves.

Since you can’t completely eliminate the threat of cooking fires, being able to control what happens once they break out is the next best thing. Using StoveTop FireStop provides a key element of protection because it reacts to fires and suppresses them before it’s too late. And, since 30 percent of people killed by cooking fires were sleeping at the time, it ensures that the stove is being monitored even if your tenants have forgotten they’ve left a burner on or left something cooking on the stove.

How StoveTop FireStop Works

Unlike fire extinguishers, which require someone nearby who knows how to operate them, StoveTop FireStop canisters are mounted above the stove’s burners, either under the microwave or the range hood.

When a fire occurs on the range below it, StoveTop FireStop is activated and it drops a fine, dry powder over the flames to quickly and safely suppress the fire. It also releases a loud “pop” sound that alerts residents to the presence of a fire. FireStop is triggered in different ways, depending on which model has been installed:

  • Rangehood, Microhood, Plus or Plus LC – These original fuse-based units are activated when a direct, sustained flame makes contact with the fuse on the bottom of the canister
  • StoveTop Plus Sensor – This sensor-based unit relies on embedded sensors to detect the unique characteristics of a grease fire and extinguish it

Installing StoveTop FiresStop provides an automatic solution to cooking fires, especially unattended cooking fires, and greatly increases safety in the kitchen. When you install StoveTop, you’re not just protecting the resident who inadvertently starts a kitchen fire; you’re protecting every resident in your building.

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