Fire Extinguisher

August 10th, 2011 by Leave a reply »

A fire­ extinguisher is an absolute necessity in any home or office. Fire extinguisher can be a lifesaver. One aspect of fire safety is to place fire extinguishers throughout the house so that no matter where the fire starts, an extinguisher will be near at hand. There should be one in the kitchen, garage, workshop, basement, and near any sleeping areas. Additionally, there should be at least one fire extinguisher on each floor.

Kinds of Fire extinguisher

  •  Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle)
  •  Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square)
  •  Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires – the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue circle)
  •  Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating – they are designed for class D fires only. Geometric symbol (Yellow Decagon)
  •  Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens. Geometric symbol (black hexagon)

What Fire Extinguisher Is Right For You?

You might be tempted to go out and buy large extinguishers rated for all three fire-types of residential fires, but in most cases, that is not your best option. First, large extinguishers can be hard to handle, especially by younger children and the elderly. Second, many fire extinguishers, especially ones rated for Types A, B and C, contain highly corrosive chemicals. While it’s nice to be able to put out a small fire in your home office, you might be less thrilled when you discover that the chemicals in the extinguisher destroyed the very electronic equipment you were seeking to protect. Most home-use extinguishers contain either halon or various dry chemicals. Halon, a very effective Type B, C extinguisher, is being phased out because of concerns about its effect on the ozone layer.

For most, a Type B, C extinguisher with non-corrosive chemicals is your best bet. After all, there is nearly always a nearby source of water, which is a very effective Type A extinguisher. However, even with non-corrosive extinguisher chemicals, it is important to clean up all the powder after a discharge because the powder can cause short circuits in electronic equipment.

Using a Fire Extinguisher

Always follow the specific instructions on the label of your fire extinguisher. In most instances these instructions will include some variation of P.A.S.S.:

            Pull- The first step is to pull the pin (it usually has the inspection tag attached to it) that prevents the handle from being squeezed.

            Aim- The second step is to aim the spray nozzle, or if attached the hose nozzle, at the fire. Aim low at the base of the fire.

            Squeeze- The third step is to squeeze the handle to spray the contents. Remember a standard fire-extinguisher has less than 30 seconds of spray time.

            Sweep- The final step is to sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.

The Most Important Aspect of Fire Safety Is Being Prepared

Fire extinguishers are only effective at the birth of a fire. Within seconds, or at most, minutes, most fires will outstrip even a large fire extinguisher’s dousing capacity. There is no time to read long and often convoluted instructions. In addition, most fire extinguishers discharge for only 8 to 12 seconds. That is not much time if you are confused about how to hold it and where to spray. For this reason, it is important that you conduct drills that give older children and every adult an opportunity to become familiar with extinguishers and their use.

Often the best way to accomplish this is to incorporate the drill into an annual tradition such as Fourth of July, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. After reviewing the extinguisher instructions, start a small fire in a barbecue, fire pit, or metal trash can and use an extinguisher to douse it. It can be an exciting and life saving addition to your tradition.

Use the same occasion to make sure that all your extinguishers are visible, clean, and fully charged. Most extinguishers have a small gauge or a pressure-test pin. Larger units can be recharged by professional fire extinguisher companies found in the yellow pages. Smaller ones often aren’t rechargeable and should be discarded and replaced.

It may be beneficial for you to have a fire safety inspection done by a professional in your area. He or she may be able to give you some additional tips on fire safety, and should be able to identify potential problem areas that might become an issue during an emergency.

Proper Extinguisher Placement

Fire extinguishers should be mounted or placed in a highly visible location 3.5 to 5 feet above the floor, out of the reach of small children. They should not be too close to potential fire locations such as stoves or trashcans or a fire may prevent you from getting to the extinguisher. In addition, fire extinguishers are under pressure and should not be located near any heat sources such as radiators or vents. In case of fire, you do not want to move away from avenues of escape in order to reach the extinguisher, so place the extinguisher near or en route to an exit.

Inspect and Maintain Fire Extinguisher

  •  Inspect your fire extinguisher at least once per month. Check the pressure gauge and make sure the locking pin is secure. Check the hose to make sure it is in good condition and there are no obstructions that will prevent you from putting out a fire.
  •  Walk around the property. Make sure the fire extinguishers are mounted in easily accessible places and near locations where a fire is most likely to occur.
  •  Recharge the extinguisher once it has been used. Any use, even for a few seconds, will cause a loss of pressure that will affect future performance if it is not recharged and serviced. This should be done quickly to make sure you have it ready when needed.
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