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Fire Extinguisher – How to Choose the Right Type to Control Warehouse Fires?

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shutterstock_305095127Fires occurring in a storage area or a warehouse can pose serious and sometimes, even life-threatening hazards for the people working in and around the premises, and also damage your property badly, resulting in huge financial losses. Did you know that during the years 2005 and 2009, nearly 1,310 fires incidents occurred within warehouses in the US, many of which were a major financial loss as they were not well-equipped to combat the fire properly?

Compliance with fire-codes is merely not enough to ensure your warehouse is well-protected to handle all kinds of fire hazards that may occur. To ensure employee safety and to protect your property from fire, here’s what you need to do:

Know What You Are Storing in Your Warehouse

Complete understanding of what you store in your warehouse is imperative for fire safety. For example, cold storage warehouses store a variety of flammable products that can pose serious fire hazards within the building, such as the food coloring within frozen foods is flammable; often classified as a Class II and Class III commodity. Their cardboard storage boxes are also combustible because the cold air in refrigerated warehouses dries the cardboard and the drier it is, the better it burns.

In addition to this, special equipment needed for services around the warehouse also pose risk of fire occurrence such as rolled paper, baled fiber, lighting and lift truck batteries, and so on. In modern warehouses, high intensity discharge lighting, such as high pressure sodium and halide lamps are quite commonly used, which are also combustible. In fact, studies show that they are the cause of 12 percent of all fires in warehouses today. When the internal temperature of these lighting lamps reaches 1000 degrees, the lamps can explode if there is a sudden internal-failure and emit hot fragments which can ignite a fire in seconds.

Besides this, ammonia-based refrigeration is also quite common in cold storage warehouses. And here, it is important to know that ammonia is flammable.

Improper pallet stacking can also lead to fire. Though pallets are a great help to carry and load heavy cargos in warehouses but let’s not forget that these are combustible because of the material they are made from. Stacking idle wood and plastic pallets improperly in piles can lead to serious fire conditions because of the heat release, creating a high velocity plume of gases when they become dry and frayed.

Therefore, to ensure you have the right equipment to combat fire situations, it’s vital to know what is stored in your warehouse.

Have an Updated List of all Hazard Materials and Their Locations

Make sure the list of hazard materials in and around your warehouse is updated frequently. For example, you should know where flammable liquids like grease, oil and kerosene are kept and where combustible metals are being used.

Have the Correct Fire Extinguishers and Check Them Regularly

To control warehouse fires, there is more you need to do then just installing fire sprinkler systems. Investing in the right type of fire extinguishers is also vital. Different types of fire extinguishers are used for different situations. Based on the type of combustible items and equipment stored in your warehouse, you can select the right type of extinguishers to cope with fire emergencies.

Here’s how fire extinguishers are classified:

  1. Class A Fire extinguishers are used for combustible materials like paper, cardboard, wood, rubber and plastics.
  2. Class B Fires extinguishers are used to stop fire resulting because of flammable liquids like oils, gasoline, grease and paints.
  3. Class C Fire extinguishers help control fire resulting from combustible electrical equipment like wiring, fuse boxes and energized electrical equipment.
  4. Class D Fire extinguishers are commonly used for fires that involve combustible-metals like magnesium, potassium and sodium.

Train all Your Employees What to Do in case of a Fire Emergency

Having the right fire extinguishers in the warehouse is important. However, using them in the right way is also imperative to overcome fire emergencies. This calls for effective training of your staff. You must train your employees to use the fire equipment as it is much needed to help the staff understand different types of fires, common classes of fire extinguishers and what types of fires they can handle. It is also important to note that if the wrong extinguisher is used, it can add fuel to the fire as well, making training essential.

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"Over the past 12 years I have had the pleasure of working with Chris Summers and Mark Horwitz with Material Handling Exchange. Over this period of time I have had the pleasure of working with them on large and small projects whether I was selling (or) buying uprights, beams, wire decking, shelving, carts and pick-modules from Chris and Mark. They have always been helpful and friendly. They treat you more like a friend than just a customer and that goes for to entire staff at Material Handling Exchange. They will go out of their way to help you whether your needing racking, shelving or anything necessary to equip your facility. I can’t express just how much they have helped me over the years. Now that Material Handling Exchange has the capability of manufacturing racking they can beat anyone’s price and supply you with quality racking!!"


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"This is the fourth order I have sent to MHE. Always recieved the racking in good order as promised."


"MHE is a top notch company. If you are in the market for new or used racking I highly recommend this company!"

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"Made multiple purchases, quality products and service for a great price. We will buy from in the future. Thanks again from Ashland Conveyor"

Bobby Ray
Ashland Conveyor

"I have worked with MHE for a year or so. They have helped me with old racking repair parts as well as new racks for our shop floor and warehouse. There team has been very helpful."

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"All items were as advertised and in far better condition that expected for be used. Everything arrived quickly and well packaged. Very nice folks to work with."

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"Chris Summers is always very helpful and gets our quotes to us in a timely manner. If we have a question he’s quick to answer and goes out of his way to provide us excellent customer service."

Jennifer Liebert
Gotta Go Surplus

"Have used MHE several times and it is a good experience each time. I have worked with Chris S. and he has been very helpful as well. They do what they say…what more can you ask for."

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"MHE was easy to work with and quickly provided the racking we required at a reasonable price. We would definitely recommend them to anyone who is looking to procure warehouse materials."


"Material Handling Exchange employees were knowledgeable, helpful, and involved throughout the design and installation. Very easy to work with. The installation crew were professional and easy to work with."


"We have been outfitting a new 14,000 sqft warehouse with new racking. We worked with MHE a couple years ago and had great experience with getting everything specced out and rated for our needs. We had to get racks custom made for the specific work we do. Their prices were very competitive. We went back and ordered another quantity from them last year. We will likely be ordering more from them in the future. The only issue we had was the delivery. The trucking company they used didn’t brace everything and some of the racking fell off the pallets in the truck. It took us several hours to partially hand-unload a full 53 foot trailer. That was the trucking company though. MHE was great."


"Working with Bradly Cross and Ms Herbert in shipping was great. I had some problems with my shipper and they were very responsive to my needs for photos to help find the mis-shipped material."

Rob Smith
Action Industrial Service

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"I always have a great response when requesting quotes from MHE. When ordering, they always keep me in the loop, letting me know within hours when my product will be delivered. Courteous with all phone calls and emails. I will keep them in my sights when I need any type of racking."

Judy Hill

"I would recommend Material Handling exchange to anyone and everyone that deals with pallet racking cantilever and small store shelving. I’ve been dealing with Material Handling for a few years now an they have never let me down even on messed up orders the product is Rush delivered immediately. Hats off to Brad Cross and his crew there."


"Gleaners Food Bank recently contracted with MHE to install racking in our cooler rooms and Material Handling Exchange was great to work with. They were very responsive to our needs and gave us very reasonable pricing. The install team that came to our facility was outstanding; they worked safely and cleaned the work areas meticulously once the work was completed.

We will absolutely use Material Handling Exchange for future projects in our DC."

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"I had MHE design and build cantilever rack for our cabinet manufacturing company. the sales person I worked with was knowledgable of how our business works and knew exactly what we needed. This order was a custom build due to the limited ceiling height we have to work with in out plant. when we received our cantilever order we built and loaded it with lumber. everthing works great."


"Hands down the best company for racking I have worked with in my 15+ years. The racking is clean,safe,strong and easy to put up fast. I would also say that the sales team is right there if anything comes up with the job. All my questions where answered quick and they made sure to go over every detail to ensure I got the correct racking for my application. My company is located in North Carolina and there was no problems with shipping and was fast to get to us."

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"Starting at the beginning of this year I have been dealing with Mr. Horwitz. He has been very helpful and accomodating to our needs here at Newegg. He is very knowledgeable and prompt when offering quotations. Once orders are in the process the rest of his team communicates at a very professional level. We’ve ordered from them several times already this year and will continue to do so in the future."

Todd Herman

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