Safety and Security

Which Type Of Fire Extinguisher Is Perfect For You?

In an episode of the famous sitcom series ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ Raymond sets the kitchen on fire and is unable to douse the now-growing fire. Gardening hose in hand, Raymond watches as his wife Debra darts out into the kitchen, grabs the fire extinguisher, and puts out the flame.

 

While the only collateral here were their curtains (and Raymond’s bruised ego), this incident highlights a simple thing we should all keep in mind. You never know when a fire could break out, and it is best to stay prepared.

 

Luckily, firefighting technology has come a long way. With a little bit of research, planning, and preparation, you can make sure you are prepared for any fire-related emergency that comes your way.

 

The First Steps

 

Local fire departments responded to over 1.3 million fires in 2021, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These incidents claimed the lives of 3,800 people. A deeper look at their study highlights a descending rate of fire-related incidents from the 1980s to 2020. Nevertheless, being vigilant while equipping your home or office with fire extinguishers could avoid a calamity.

 

The first step you should take is to map out your space. By picking a primary fire extinguisher for your home or office, you should ensure that the entire space is covered, with fire extinguishers placed at regular intervals. Ensure a maximum of 40 feet distance between them.

 

Some fire extinguishers are better suited for a space than others. For homes, a water fire extinguisher might be the right choice. For an office or server space, on the other hand, you might prefer a C02 fire extinguisher, as they are a better fit for electrical fires.

 

Make sure to do your due diligence to identify your space and the fire extinguishers you might need. Installing incompatible fire extinguishers might increase the risk of a fire spreading.

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Also, make sure to look out for faulty products. TorHoerman Law discusses how defective products could potentially turn dangerous. A fire extinguisher that doesn’t work when you need it to is as good as having no fire extinguisher at all.

 

Types of Fires

 

Before looking into what type of fire extinguisher you should get, first, familiarize yourself with the types of fires. These are categorized into 6 broad categories.

 

  • Class A fires – Common combustibles like wood, paper, fabrics, and other organic materials
  • Class B fires – Flammable Liquids like oils, paints, grease, etc.
  • Class C fires – Flammable gasses.
  • Class D fires – Metals that are combustible such as magnesium and aluminum.
  • Class K fires – Cooking equipment such as vegetables and cooking oils.
  • Electrical fires: Electrical fires are not categorized under a letter because they can be caused by a wide array of factors like electrical or cooking appliances. To denote electrical fires, the symbol of an electrical spark is used instead.

 

Types Of Fire Extinguishers

 

There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, categorized by their compositions. Each type of extinguisher is better suited to tackle different fire classes.

 

CO2 Fire Extinguishers.

 

This type of fire extinguisher uses carbon dioxide to help put out the flame. The CO2 helps displace the oxygen, effectively suffocating the fire since it needs oxygen to burn.

 

For fires caused by flammable liquids (Class B fires), a CO2 extinguisher is the best-suited option. They can also come in handy while tackling electrical fires.

 

Powder Fire Extinguishers

 

Due to their ability to tackle all three classes of fires, they are also known as ABC fire extinguishers. They can tackle fires caused by wood, fabrics, and paper, as well as by flammable liquids and gasses. It works by creating a barrier to prevent the supply of oxygen to the fuel/fire.

 

They might not make the best home fire extinguisher. It is recommended that you do not use this as a home fire extinguisher because the powder could potentially be inhaled. It is also a lot harder to clean up.

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Foam Fire Extinguishers

 

Foam fire extinguishers are composed of two main components – a water component, which has a cooling effect on the fire, and a foam component. Known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), it smothers the flame and seals it in, preventing it from reigniting. With liquid fires, the foam creates a layer between the combustible liquid and the fire, preventing its spread.

 

Due to several health-related issues with AFFF firefighting foam, highlighted by the AFFF foam lawsuit filed due to the presence of cancer-causing toxic chemicals in the foam, companies are looking to phase them out in order to replace them with safer alternatives.

 

Tyco Fire Protection Products, for instance, the defendant in the lawsuit, has vowed to switch to non-fluorinated firefighting foams. If you are using a foam fire extinguisher, make sure to confirm that it does not employ toxic chemicals in its composition.

 

Water Fire Extinguishers

 

As the name suggests, these use water to help douse a flame. Due to its cooling effect, the water is able to restrict the burning of the fire, preventing its spread.

These fire extinguishers are best suited for organic materials like wood, paper, or other fabrics (Class A fires).

 

A List Of Fire Extinguisher Labels

 

Each fire extinguisher has a color-coded label that denotes the type of extinguisher it is. These include:

 

  • CO2 Fire Extinguishers – Black
  • Powder Fire Extinguishers – Blue
  • Foam Fire Extinguishers – Cream
  • Water Fire Extinguishers – Red

 

Important Things to Keep in Mind

 

It is not every day that a fire breaks out in your house. However, 2021 statistics by the U.S Fire Administration (USFA) show that there were 353,500 fires in the US that year. By following a few safety tips, you can make sure that your fire extinguisher can save the day when you need it to.

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