Prepped and Ready: Fire Extinguishers 101
We all know them, fire extinguishers. They’re bright red, spherical, and found in almost every building and public area. They are an essential safety tool found in most offices, schools, and buildings worldwide. In an emergency, they can not only help save lives but also help prevent property damage.
But just as there is not a single type of fire, there is no one type of extinguisher. In fact, certain types of extinguishers can make some fires worse when deployed against them. In this newsletter, Life Safety will look at the different types of fires and the various fire extinguishers used to deploy against them.
Types of Fires
There are several types of fires, each classified by the fuel that feeds the fire. Each type of fire has its unique characteristics and hazards. Understanding the different types of fires and how to extinguish them properly is essential to prevent injury and property damage.
Class A – The most common type of fire. These involve combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and household garbage.
Class B – Fires fueled by flammable liquids and gases, such as gasoline or propane. These fires are dangerous because they can quickly spread and ignite nearby objects.
Class C – These are fires involving energized electrical equipment such as electronics and computers. Class C fires should only be extinguished using non-conductive materials to avoid electrocution.
Class D – Class D fires involve flammable metals, such as magnesium or sodium, which require special fire extinguishing agents.
Class K – Fires that involve cooking oils and fats. They are usually found in kitchens and require specialized extinguishers for high-temperature fires.
Most Common Types of Extinguishers
Not all fire extinguishers are created equal. There are five major types of extinguishers, each designed to put out one or more specific types of fires.
ABC Powder Fire Extinguishers – Sometimes called the “universal” fire extinguisher. These use chemical powder and are designed to be used on Class A, B, and C fires.
Water – These use pressurized water to combat fires and are only for use on Class A fires and unsuitable for use in freezing conditions.
CO₂ Fire Extinguishers – These extinguishers use a cold blast of carbon dioxide to put out fires. They are useful around sensitive or delicate electronic equipment as they do not leave a residue or powder. These only work in short range, so you must be closer to the fire source. CO₂ Extinguishers are for Class B and Class C fires only and are not recommended for outdoor use.
Class D Fire Extinguishers – These specialized fire extinguishers are commonly found in laboratories. They are meant for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium, and sodium.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers – A wet chemical fire extinguisher is a fire extinguisher that’s specifically designed to put out oil fires in a commercial kitchen setting. These are used to put out Class K fires. These usually have a long hose to allow the user to stand a safer distance from the fire.
How to use a fire extinguisher
Identify a clear escape route or exit – Ensure you have a clear evacuation route before using the fire extinguisher. If you cannot extinguish the fire, you must make a safe exit. Consider escape routes when choosing where to store your fire extinguisher. They should be kept in a location with multiple exits nearby.
Stand back from the fire – Face the fire and keep your back to the clear exit that you identified earlier. The fire extinguisher should be operated between six and eight feet from the flames.
Discharge extinguisher using “P.A.S.S.” – It can sometimes be difficult to focus clearly during an emergency, so to help you remember the steps involved in operating a fire extinguisher, use this acronym: P.A.S.S.
- Pull – Pull the pin on the extinguisher
- Aim – Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
- Squeeze – Squeeze the trigger to release the product
- Sweep – Sweep the nozzle slowly from side to side
To have a fighting chance against a fire, it’s essential to have a functioning fire extinguisher. Thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter. We hope it sheds some light on why having, knowing how to use, and maintaining a fire extinguisher is crucial. Understanding the different types of fires and the appropriate extinguisher can prevent a small fire from turning into a catastrophic event. Life Safety Fire & Security Solutions is dedicated to providing our customers with the knowledge and tools to protect them and their loved ones.
Your Fire Protection Partner
Life Safety Fire and Security Solutions provides building owners and managers with a comprehensive range of fire and life safety solutions and services. Whether it’s installation, inspection, maintenance, or repair, our team of experienced professionals will ensure that your fire system is functioning correctly and in compliance with safety codes. By partnering with Life Safety Fire and Security Solutions, you can get extra peace of mind knowing that your building and occupants are safe from fire hazards.
Contact Life Safety Fire and Security Solutions today to learn more about our commercial fire extinguisher services and how we can help keep your property safe. To learn more about fire extinguishers, call Life Safety Fire and Security Solutions at 1-800-263-1116. Headquarters at Buffalo, New York. 14225