How To Compare Types of Fire Extinguishers

When a fire breaks out, the first thing to do is to not panic and call the authorities if you don’t have fire sensors that automatically report such an occurrence. But you cannot just wait until they arrive, especially if the fire is just about to begin and is still containable. Taking steps to put a fire out yourself only requires a bit of courage and a fire protection device like a fire extinguisher.

Fire extinguishers work by smothering the fire using certain pressurized chemical contents. Using fire extinguishers is very easy. Just pull out the safety pin and press the lever down while guiding the hose directly to the fire source and not the flames.

The thing is, you can’t just use any type of fire extinguisher, as the wrong type may turn a heroic moment into a worse tragedy. When choosing the type of fire extinguisher to use, you must first take into consideration the types of materials in the area.

Different classes of fire based on materials:

  • Class A: Fires erupting from paper, plastic and other solids
  • Class B: Flammable liquids like oil, paraffin, petrol
  • Class C: Flammable gases such as butane, propane, methane
  • Class D: Metals such as magnesium, aluminum, titanium
  • Class E: Fires involving electrical devices
  • Class F: Cooking oil & fat-based substances

With these enumerated fire hazards, you can determine what kind of fire extinguisher to use. Here are the different types of extinguishers available:

  • Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers – These types are filled with monoammonium phosphate and pressurized nitrogen. They can handle Classes A, B and C fires and thus are termed a multipurpose extinguisher. It is recommended for gas fires but you should remember that when facing gas fires, you must tackle the source first.
  • Foam Type Fire Extinguishers – Commonly used for Class A and B fires, these types are not recommended in dealing with electrical fires.
  • Water Fire Extinguishers – Also known as APW or Air-Pressurized Water, these types are the cheapest and most widely used. However, this type is only recommended for Class A fires.
  • Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers – This is a good choice for Class E fires, as it does not leave harmful residues that may cause damage to nearby appliances. It is also fit to deal with Class B and C fire types.

Taking care of your fire extinguisher ensures its full functionality when the time comes. Here are some tips on how to take care of your fire extinguisher:

  1. Regularly check on your fire extinguishers, at least once a month and if it is a dry powder type, make sure you shake it to prevent having the powder settle. Regular inspections by professionals are necessary.
  2. Ensure that people can easily see where the fire extinguisher is located by putting up a visible sign.
  3. Make sure the tamper seal and the safety pin are intact.
  4. Clean the body of the extinguisher from any corrosive materials like oil.
  5. If the extinguisher looks bad and is filled with dents, or requires recharging, immediately call your provider.

Dealing with fire is a serious task, and with a correct type of fire extinguisher handy, the job can be done. But for situations you can’t handle, when the fire grows bigger than your device can handle, it is always best to leave it to the hands of trained professionals.


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