Fire is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, far surpassing earthquakes, disease, famine, floods, etc. Fire extinguishers have proved to be exceedingly effective at preventing significant death tolls when they function properly. But inspections are often shoddy, and a great percentage of fire extinguishers malfunction at critical times (like when there is a fire) due to lack of charge. The nasty little secret is that fire extinguishers leak. Not some of them, all of them. Still, every enterprise must provide an accessible fire extinguisher every 1,300 square feet. This is true for every nursing home, high school, university, hotel, hospital, retail store, courthouse, manufacturing facility, etc.
Something else I’ve learned about fire extinguishers is that they’ve become the mechanism of choice for making pipe bombs. Raids of Al-Queda and Taliban strongholds have captured many of these devices with cell phone detonators. The extinguishers are ubiquitous, easy to access, and can carry a tremendous payload of shrapnel. Pretty gruesome stuff, but very real. The Department of Homeland Security is considering mandates for fire extinguisher monitors at airports and other government facilities, and manufacturers are working with the TSA and other agencies on these new codes.
We can provide sensors for monitoring the condition of fire extinguishers:
- Are they charged and ready for use?
- Have they been removed from its mounting bracket or storage area?
- Is access impeded?
Yet another example of situational awareness.