All Coin Laundries should have the appropriate number of fire extinguishers installed in their business. Most insurance policies require the fire extinguishers be installed, and just plain common sense should tell a Laundromat owner that a fire extinguisher would be a handy item to have available in a business containing multiple gas fired heaters and dryers.
The State of California requires a public accessible fire extinguisher for every 1,500 Square Feet or any portion thereof of a commercial business location. The argument made by many Coin Laundry owners that fire extinguishers are stolen does not change the obligation of the owner to provide them in his place of business.
Sometimes a Laundromat owner can appeal to the common sense of the fire inspector and request that they be allowed to post a sign telling the customer that the extinguishers are available in the back room will prevent the constant theft problem.
A second method of slowing the theft problem is to place the extinguishers inside a cabinet with a glass front. Painting the inside of the glass will also help reduce the theft, but some fire inspectors will cite the Laundromat owner because the tag showing the date of certification (re-charging) cannot be seen.
It’s also important that owners understand the labeling on fire extinguishers and what type of fire they are designed to extinguish. The Codes on the listed by the numbers “A”, “B”, “C”, "D", and a multiple “ABC” extinguisher that is installed in most Coin Laundries. Water should never be used to extinguish an electrical fire, so a "C" rated extinguisher that can be used on electrical boxes and appliances is needed.
All extinguishers need to be serviced or re-charged every other year. Recharge fees should cost about $12.00 to $15.00 per unit.
Original purchase prices should be in the range of $25.00 to $50.00 each. The same amount of money will be spent on the purchase of a cabinet. Often the companies that recharge the units have used extinguishers available at reasonable prices. Shopping around by telephone or the internet can save you money on this safety item because the range and availability can vary greatly. It's also a good idea to purchase signs that clearly show the location of the extinguisher. If you can't find the extinguisher in an emergency, it has no value.
Once you have an understanding of the type of extinguisher needed and a good source for buying and having them recharged, please remember to ask the technician to tell you exactly how to use the unit in the event of fire. Complete your safety task by meeting with your repair, cleaning and attendants to show them how to use the units.
Installing a sign that explains how to use the extinguisher in simple terms is also a good idea.