Should I Have A Fire Extinguisher In My Apartment?

Staying safe in your apartment could be one of the most important things that tenants should be concerned with, not just safety with your neighbors and the neighborhood, but your physical safety inside your apartment should some catastrophe happen. 

Every apartment unit should have a fire extinguisher in it.  The most common place to place fire extinguishers is under the sink in the kitchen.  This gives the extinguisher easy access to the most commonplace that fires start: The Kitchen. 

If you already have rented an apartment and are wondering if your unit has a fire extinguisher with it, the best place to look for it is under the sink.  In the complexes that provide their tenants with an extinguisher, this is almost always where they put it because it is common knowledge that if you ever need to find one in someone else’s house or apartment during an emergency, THIS is going to be where you will find it at. 

But what if you are looking to rent an apartment and are wondering if your landlord provides an extinguisher for you.  Are they required to provide an extinguisher for the tenant or is it the tenant’s responsibility? 

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Are Landlords Responsible For Fire Extinguishers?

Unless local ordinances require that the landlord put extinguishers in every unit, they are not legally required to do so.  

They would be legally required to put an extinguisher in your unit if it mentions a fire extinguisher in the lease.  The overwhelming majority of leases are not going to have this provision in it, as the landlord is going to expect that the tenant is responsible for their own physical safety and behavior while inside their apartment.  

A landlord has to make the apartment livable before you move into the unit, but this refers to basic, minimum standards.  Smoke alarms, locking doors, running water, and heat are the things that are usually included in this provision.

But when it comes to things above and beyond what they are legally required to provide, it is going to depend on your individual landlord and what they put in the lease. 

However, some landlords and owners are going to go get a fire extinguisher and put one in every unit as a form of insurance for them.  It is MUCH better for them to go buy a fire extinguisher, which is going to hold its charge and pressure for many years than to have an entire building burn down because someone had a grease fire in their kitchen. 

If your landlord doesn’t have a fire extinguisher policy in the lease, they could view giving everyone a fire extinguisher a liability.  Fire extinguishers are not free and have been known to grow legs and walk off if someone happens to be in need of cash.

I myself have seen this in action as I have had tenants take the batteries out of the smoke alarms not only so they can smoke in the apartment, but also just because they were free batteries for their Xbox remotes. 

Asking your landlord if they can get you a fire extinguisher is a good way to do this.  Many landlords would be happy to purchase a fire extinguisher as long as they get to keep it when and if you move out in the future.  Bring up the benefits that THEY will get by having an extinguisher in your specific apartment.  

If you can show them how they will benefit by buying a fire extinguisher for your unit, you are going to have a good chance of the maintenance guy show up at your door with one. 

How Much Do Fire Extinguishers Cost?

Regardless of whether or not your landlord provides you a fire extinguisher for your apartment, you are going to want one for personal safety.  The rule of thumb with fire extinguishers is that you want at least 1 extinguisher for every 2500 square feet of your apartment. Also, if you have an apartment with more than one level, you should have one on both levels as well. 

A basic, standard fire extinguisher is going to run you about $20 on Amazon.  The First Alert Standard Home Fire Extinguisher (Amazon Link) is EXACTLY what you need for your apartment, and is the same model we purchase for our own tenants.  

The price is right around $20 and will last for at least 10 years. It is absolutely PERFECT for apartments, and again, this is the one that we provide our tenants to keep under their kitchen sink as well. 

A great talking point to give your landlord if you are wanting them to pay for it is to just forward the link for the fire extinguisher onto them.  You can show them how economical they are and that for a dollar or two a year, it is amazing insurance for both you and them. 

While your landlord is not legally required to provide tenants a fire extinguisher unless local ordinances require.  Additionally, if there is language in the lease agreement that says the complex is going to provide an extinguisher, you can make sure your landlord provides you with one. 

Regardless, you are going to want at least one fire extinguisher in your apartment.  If you purchase it yourself, you are going to be out $20 at most. And if the extinguisher isn’t the apartment complex’s, simply take it with you when you leave, and you have one for the next place you move in to. 

Remember, you want one fire extinguisher for every 2,500 square feet of apartment space, and at least one fire extinguisher per level of your apartment.

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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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