Fire Extinguisher 101
It is important to note that there are many different types of fire extinguishes and flame-retardant materials. Knowing which type of extinguisher you need for your property can lead to a efficient plan, less material damage, and an assurance that it will extinguish your fire.
There are many variables to take into account when planning for your property's fire extinguisher.
- Products/materials that are flammable
- Materials that catch on fire or aide in creating a fire
- Where your heat sources are located in comparison to flammable goods
- A viable fire exit and plan, placement is crucial for extinguishing a fire quickly
What is a Fire?
Creating a fire is a chemical reaction and goes as follows:
- There needs to be a fuel source, a combustible gas, liquid, or solid that can get hot enough for a spark.
- Oxygen, this will react to the fuel source
- Heat Source, a heat source is imperative to "ignite" or start the chemical reaction. In this aspect it one can treat fire as if it is a chemical itself.
There is no fire extinguisher that will stop all fires, even water can be hazardous to different types of fires. Understanding what will be the most effective in one's most probable cause of fire will create a safe environment.
- There are 4 different types of fires
- Class A
- Common combustibles, like paper or wood.
- Class B
- Combustible liquids, like kerosene or gasoline.
- Class C
- Electrical faulty, like wires or outlets faltering.
- Class D
- Combustible metals, like magnesium or potassium
- Class K
- Oil and fats, like vegetable oil and animal fat (most commonly pig fat).
Different Type of Fire Extinguishers:
Due to extreme variance of fire starting, there are multiple ways to stop fire. The easiest way to extinguish is to take away at least one of the three needs for a fire aforementioned.
- Dry Chemical
- This can be used for classes A,B, and C
- This is a powder substance, usually Sodium Bicarbonate, that one can spray on to a fire. This "smothers" the fire and stops it from receiving oxygen.
- Carbon Dioxide
- Best used for classes B and C
- It works by eliminating the oxygen in the air, and replacing it with carbon dioxide, which in return stops the fire access to oxygen.
- Best used for class A but can be used for B and C
- This is the easiest way to stop both a heat source and suffocating the fire. Although it is harder to store.
- Wet Chemical
- Can be used for all the classes except C
- Using a chemical like potassium in a foam like substance which instantly coolers the surface and smothers the surface. It can corrode metal surfaces and can be very toxic to living organisms.
Inspect your Fire Extinguishers Annually:
The USFA suggests these steps to ensure the proper care of your fire extinguisher, as each one can expire or be unintentionally released as a gas or liquid.
1. Ensure easy access.
2. Check the pressure, make sure the pressure gauge indicates the proper pressure.
3. Look for physical damage as this may be an indication that the extinguisher is not in usable condition.
4. Clean the extinguisher, check if there is dust or grease around the extinguisher. As the extinguisher can react to its surroundings. Note: potassium is highly reactive and corrodes easily so it is important to consistently check up on wet chemical extinguishers.