Fire Extinguisher For Your Apartment

fire extinguisher

There is no middle ground on this subject.  You MUST have a fire extinguisher in your apartment.  Whether it is the law or just plain common sense, this is one thing that you must have handy at all times. 

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The number of comments we have gotten on the other piece I wrote about fire extinguishers let us know that this is not only a common concern people have but an issue that is present in apartment complexes everywhere.  

If you are wondering about your fire extinguisher, curious as to if you actually need one, or curious as to what size you need to buy if you get one yourself… THIS is the article to read.  

For those who like to cut right to the chase our #1 Pick for the Best Fire Extinguisher for your Apartment is: First Alert: Standard Home Fire Extinguisher (Amazon Link)

And for those of you who would like a little more detailed info on the topic of Fire Extinguishers… I’ll take you through what the requirements are for apartments, landlords, and where your responsibility is as the tenant.  Whatever question you have, we’ll answer it here!

Fire Extinguisher Requirements For Apartments

Typically, the requirements for apartment complexes and landlords are determined at the local level, and while having one in an apartment may not be a legal requirement, the insurance carrier that the apartment complex uses will have it as a requirement there.

This is one of those issues that is handled at the local level as far as ordinances and enforcement goes.  So, if you are wondering about what the specific law says in your city or township, the city website is where you want to go.  Usually, there will be a section under “real estate” or “commerce” that will take you to a section for “Multi-Unit Dwellings”.  The local ordinance governing fire extinguishers will be here if there is one. 

If there isn’t, you can rest assured that, at least in the United States, the insurance carrier that your apartment complex uses, like a State Farm or Allstate, is going to require that the landlord have not only a fire extinguisher in every unit, but in the hallways and basements as well.  If they don’t, then they won’t insure them.  If your landlord doesn’t have insurance… run don’t walk. 

Some cities will be more insistent on inspection and regulation, but I can tell you this from having to deal with fires and the aftermaths of fires: a piece of paper in the city isn’t going to help you when there is a fire in your apartment.  

This is where you, as the tenant, need to make sure that you are protected because, with fires, there are rarely second chances. 

Do Apartments Have To Have Fire Extinguishers?

While a law may or may not specifically require fire extinguishers to be in each apartment, the landlord’s insurance carrier will require that they have one in every unit to stay insured. 

This would be along the same lines as having seat belts and a car alarm for your car.  Yes, they will insure you, but only if you are actually taking reasonable precautions with your car.  

It is in the landlord’s best interest to make sure that their tenants stay safe.  Landlords are in the business of providing housing to people in exchange for money, not watching hopes and dreams go up in smoke.  Regardless of what you think of your landlord, they NEED you to be safe for their own longevity. 

This doesn’t mean that they have checked on all the fire extinguishers recently to make sure they are up to date, but more than likely if you look under your kitchen sink, or in the closet by the door, you will find a fire extinguisher there. 

If you don’t, ASK FOR ONE.  

More than likely, your landlord will go get you one.  They aren’t that expensive, and it’s just a common-sense piece of safety equipment.  As a landlord myself, the small cost for a fire extinguisher like THIS has saved so many people’s apartments due to accidents or cooking fires it’s well worth the price, headache, and hassle to make sure that every apartment has one in working order. 

Just for your own knowledge, however, if for some reason you need another fire extinguisher, apartment complexes usually have one in a box in all of their hallways and basements.  This is NOT a substitute for an extinguisher in your own apartment, whoever provides it, but more as a piece of information to keep in the back of your mind if you ever DO need an extra during an emergency. 

Apartment Size Fire Extinguisher

A good rule of thumb is that you should have one fire extinguisher for every 2,500 square feet of space.  

For virtually EVERY apartment, this means just one per apartment.  It’s not about how many of these you have, but how quickly you can get to one when you need it.  

This is why most commonly they are stored in the kitchen, under the sink, because the vast majority of apartment fires start in the kitchen.   So, if you are looking for yours and wondering where it could be, that is the first place I would start.   

Then, just look at the date on the extinguisher.  It will tell you how long they are good for.  And they WILL work past the expiration date, but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

Just a Standard Home Fire Extinguisher (Amazon Link) just like this one pictured above, will work great.  They only run about $20 bucks and they are just like the ones you see everywhere else.  They are very durable and dependable, and you don’t need one of those big ones that take a lumberjack to carry around.  

Every single one of our apartments has one of these in it that is checked once a year to make sure they have pressure and are good to go.  It is MUCH easier to clean up the mess of the foam than doing fire restoration. 

What Type Of Fire Extinguisher Do I Need For My Apartment?

A Standard Home Fire Extinguisher (Amazon Link) will do.  The size isn’t near as important as having one handy when a fire breaks out.  The quicker you can get to it, the less you are going to have to use it. 

The First Alert brand we have found works well, but the Kidde ones of the same size (Amazon Link) have worked just as well for us in the past.  Both the First Alert brand and the Kidde brand are only going to run you around $20, which is a pretty cheap price to pay when you actually NEED one.  

If you want to go up a step, the Amerex is twice as big for about twice the cost (Amazon Link) but it will get the job done as well. 

The smaller ones have 2.5 lbs in them and the larger one that I gave you the link for has 5lbs of “stuff” inside them.  They are all good to put out electrical fires and use on boats as well. 

You never know how much of the foam you are going to need until your own situation happens, but they will last different lengths depending on how much you hold the handle down.  While that may seem like an obvious statement, what I’m saying is if you get to the fire fairly quickly, you won’t need a full-on fire truck to take care of the problem.

  This is why having one, OR TWO, handy and quickly reachable is the name of the game. 

Want an even more compact fire extinguisher? Try the First Alert EZ Fire Spray Portable Fire Extinguisher (Amazon Link) Pictured above it discharges 4 times longer than a traditional fire extinguisher. It’s a light aerosol can that is easy to hold, carry, and use.

It really works great for smaller kitchens and apartments where space is at a premium. Grab a two-pack of them with our link to give yourself multiple options in a hectic fire situation!

Are Apartments Required To Provide Fire Extinguishers?

Ordinances vary depending on where you live, however, if your apartment doesn’t have a fire extinguisher, simply ask your landlord for one, most times they will gladly provide one. 

If, for some reason, you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your apartment, the first thing you should do is just call your landlord and ask them for one.  It is in their best interest to give you one and protect their property and reputation, I couldn’t think of a good reason why they wouldn’t give you one. 

HOWEVER, simply because one is provided for by them, doesn’t mean that it’s in the best working condition it should be.  Your landlord may know they have one under your kitchen that they put there in 1999.  While it may or may not work, that’s not a chance you want to take, especially during the heat of battle, excuse my fire pun. 

Getting your own fire extinguisher is not that big of a deal and it doesn’t have to break the bank.  First Alert doesn’t pay us to say this or Kidde, but both of their brands have worked for us in the past, during actual fires. So, I can wholeheartedly recommend both of those brands to you. And with Amazon, it can be to your door in a day or so and you can have it on hand for a decade. 

Best Fire Extinguisher For My Apartment

The “Best” fire extinguisher doesn’t have to be the biggest, more important, it needs to be quickly accessible. 

Your best bet for a fire extinguisher is a 2.5 lb or 5lb unit.  Both of which you can find HERE.   Get what you think you will need, but 2 smaller ones could easily end up being more effective than 1 bigger one, depending on where you have them stored.  

If you have one big one stored behind where the fire actually is, it doesn’t matter how big it is, because you can’t get to it. 

The main thing is to have one on hand when you need it.  Many people keep one in the closet by their front door, or under the sink in their bathroom, just in case something happens in the kitchen and they can’t get to it quickly enough.  

And as a landlord, I am telling you that there is NO SUBSTITUTE for a fire extinguisher when you need one!  That means that whoever provides it, you NEED to have it.  There is no “maybe” on this one.

Don’t keep living in danger, pretending you won’t ever need fire extinguishers, I think you will find that safety for your apartment and your family isn’t too expensive and can literally be a life-saver!

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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