The use of portable fire extinguishers are most effectively utilized when they are readily available in sufficient number and with adequate extinguishing capacity for use by persons familiar with their operation. In fire emergencies where extinguishers are relied upon, someone usually has to travel from the fire to obtain the device, and then return to the fire before using it. The time required to accomplish this is determined mainly by the travel distance involved in securing the extinguisher and placing it in operation.
Travel distance is the actual distance the user of the extinguisher will need to walk. Consequently, travel distance will be affected by partitions, location of doorways, aisles, piles of stored materials, and other items. For schools the travel distance to a fire extinguisher shall not exceed 75 feet unless in a high hazard areas.
In high hazard areas, such as wood or metal shops or chemistry laboratories, the travel distance shall be no more than 50 feet. This information is listed in the National Fire Protection Administration 10 guidelines that cover portable fire extinguishers.