Ensure Safety With The Correct Fire Extinguisher

Ensure Safety With The Correct Fire Extinguisher
by Lawrence Taylor

A fire extinguisher is something familiar to everyone. These devices are essential pieces of safety equipment which can control or extinguish smaller fires. They should not be used against fires which have already grown out of control. The common types of fire extinguishers are nitrogen extinguishers, which are used for dry chemical fires and air pressurized water or foam extinguishers. It’s important to use the correct fire extinguisher for the type of fire you’re trying to put out. Certain fire extinguishers are made specifically to put out certain types of fires.

Using the Correct Fire Extinguisher is very important. There are certain types of fires, just as there are certain types of fire extinguishers.

Electrical fires are controlled using a CO2 or powder fire extinguisher in the UK; the extinguisher will bear a pictogram denoting that the extinguisher is suitable for electrical fires. Foam extinguishers are made in a variety of types appropriate for different fires. There are Class A and B extinguishers using Aqueous Film Forming Foam, Alcohol Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam for chemical fires where alcohol is a component. The way that these fire extinguishers work is by forming a membrane which keeps oxygen from reaching the fire; and alcohol resistant foam is formulated to resist the ability of alcohol to break down this foam. There is also heat resistant Film Forming Fluoroprotein, used largely in racing. Fire extinguishers using Compressed Air Foam Systems are air-pressurized foam extinguishers which are rated for type A or type B fires and are used largely outdoors in woodland areas. Arctic Fire extinguishers are used in the metal manufacturing industry – these are suitable for Class A-D fires and can cool heated materials (including metals) very quickly. For protecting sensitive materials such as documents and electronic components, CO2 fire extinguishers are the preferred tool. These fire extinguishers do not leave a damaging residue behind.

In the UK, there are five categories of fires and five classes of fire extinguisher. Class A fires are those fueled by paper or wood, Class B liquefied solids or flammable liquids, Class C gases, Class D metals and Class F are grease fires and other cooking fires. Fire extinguishers used in the UK are coded with numbers and letters, such as 22B.

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For an electrical fire, the UK uses either CO2 or a powder, and there will be an electrical pictogram signifying that this fire extinguisher is for electrical purposes only. Some fire extinguishers use foam. There are different types of foam for different types of fires. Aqueous Film Forming Foam is used to suppress vapors on both Class A and Class B fires. Alcohol resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam is used on chemical fires that contain alcohol. This type of foam forms a membrane between the fuel and the foam, which prevents the alcohol from breaking down the blanket of the foam. Film Forming Fluoroprotein is more heat resistant and is used more in the racing industry. Compressed Air Foam System fire extinguishers are charged with foam and pressurized with compressed air. They are used mainly for wooded areas, which are classed as A, or B. Arctic Fire is a liquid extinguisher that cools heated materials faster than the ordinary foam and is used on Class A, B, and D fires in the steel industry. The use of Co2 fire extinguishers is necessary for sensitive electronic and even important documents. The reason Co2 is used is that it does not leave any type of residue on the fragile parts of the electronics.

In forestry, Compressed Air Foam Systems are helpful in containing Class A and B fires in wooded areas. There are also Arctic Fire extinguishers. These quickly cool superheated materials and are used extensively in the steel industry to put out Class A-D fires. When there are electronics or documents to be protected, CO2 fire extinguishers are employed; these are suitable for use around these delicate materials since they do not leave residues behind.

A CO2 fire extinguisher uses powder to halt the chemical reaction which cause the fuel to oxidize; this cuts off the flames from the fuel to quickly extinguish fires. Grease and electrical fires call for specialized fire extinguishers. Water can present a hazard with grease or electrical fires (and in the case of electrical fires, can be fatal).

Always be aware what fire extinguishers are present and which types of fire they are designed to put out. If you’re unsure about which is which, ask for an explanation now – before you need to use them.

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