Fire extinguisher liability

7 Replies

Was reading up on this and obviously you need to provide what the local fire safety code dictates, but that aside, do you provide fire extinguishers to individual units?

Seems more and more are shying away from doing this due to liability in the event the equipment malfunctions.

thoughts?

We always put a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen when new tenants move in.  We see it as an act of goodwill and way to protect our asset.  We probably should inspect the extinguishers during maintenance inspections, but I don't lay awake at night worrying about tenants using good intentions against us.

I put a fire extinguisher under the kitchen cabinet.  They may or may not use it, but for $20 at Walmart it's a small price to pay if they need it....

True story, about two weeks ago a fire started in my kitchen.  Luckily my wife yelled for me and was also very clear what the emergency was(credit to her) I was able to grab the extinguisher and get it out with almost no damage.  It was an electrical fire and my house being built in the 50s made for what could have been a very bad situation.  

Lesson learned, all my units will have small extinguishers and I am able to have them checked yearly for a very minimal cost.

I am not an attorney...far from it.. but I personally don't see myself being liable if I show they are regularly inspected and fully charged.

Excuse typos/grammar above as I sent from phone!

I am trying to determine if there is any regulations, state or local that governs fire extinguishers in terms of type, how many, and location.

I know there are city building codes on fire alarms, smoke alarms, hard wired or battery which is dependent on when the property was built as well as whether it's a SFR or multi-family dwelling.

However I couldn't find anything on fire extinguishers.  Called the city and they don't seem to know, but they referred me to the city fire marshall, when I called their office they said it's dictated by the state's fire prevention code, when I called the state they said it's probably something based on the National fire prevention code but localized by the county or city...he then said he recommends reading up on NFPA 10.  Looking up NFPA 10 it is still unclear to me what's "required" and what's "recommended".  At this point I am still not sure whether it's best to provide each unit with one or two portable units, or have to install a big one somewhere on the exterior.

As far as liability on supplying fire extinguishers here is the thread I bumped into while searching on this topic.

http://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/52/topics/118323-what-do-you-supply-tenants

where the following posts got my attention.

I used to supply fire extinguishers until I was warned by a lawyer not to. If the tenant reaches for the fire extinguisher you supplied and it does not work for any reason (including it losing its charge because they kept it too long) and they suffer a loss or injury they can sue you for supplying faulty equipment. What a Country.

and

Unfortunately @Jeff Rabinowitz has touched on a subject that I found out the hard way a few years back. A tenant started a grease fire in the kitchen. They poured water on it to put it out. Now if you know a grease fire, water doesn't stop it, it spreads it.

So then they grabbed the landlord supplied fire extinguisher and somehow, they did not use it properly. Of course they were burned and some damage done in the kitchen. I had to do the repairs and of course, billed the tenant for it. The tenant counter claimed that no damage would have be done if a working extinguisher was in place.

While the judge did find that the damage was still caused by the tenant for starting a fire on the stove when cooking. I was fined for the extinguisher. The judge actually told both my attorney and myself, that we would be better not providing that stuff.

I can only imagine the liability caused if you left behind bug spray and a tenant's children got into it.

Yes, Great Country we live in right?

It seems ridiculous to worry about the potential liability due to a failed fire extinguisher, when the benefits of providing one clearly outweigh the risks. Lawyers can ruin anything.

-Life saved

-Property saved

@Sam Leon  

I remember that thread and still do not get why the landlord was fined.   We are required to provide them in the stairwells/hallways (on each floor) in the smaller buildings which do not have sprinkler systems.

We also provide an 5lb ABC (low corrosion) type fire-extinguisher in each of our units - usually in plain site in the kitchen.  

 In our property binder we provide the tenant with contact information for the local fire-department where they can arrange to attend a free course on the use of fire-extinguishers if they are not already comfortable with using one.

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