As you get older, though, you start realizing that you’ve built-in fire extinguishers that let you control the flames within yourself. Extending the same concept further, Every restaurant, institute, hospital, commercial, or local building is equipped with a fire extinguisher. Few of us clearly know the name and use of it while others don’t bother to check where is its opening hole and what’s the purpose behind It’s hanging on the wall nearest to the exit way.
To catch fire, three elements in triangle oxygen, heat, and fuel must be aligned. In the fire triangle, oxygen — is used to maintain combustion, fuel – to support the combustion process for prolonging, heat – elevate the burning material to its ignition temperature.
To know about the variety of extinguishers, your pre-requisite should have a sound understanding of types of fires and which fire affects our society and environment. The right type of fire extinguisher saves you from guilt, personal injuries, and property loss. While on the contrary, the wrong type of fire extinguisher could cause an explosion, electrical short circuits, and massive fire.
What matters most of the location of its installment in a house or a commercial building. Few of them are used to embed in the medical center’s hallway while there’re some special extinguishers for Operation Room and Kitchen.
In order to put out the fire, the wrong extinguisher can introduce some other type of disasters that may affect the safety plan. Here’s what you need to know about different types of fire extinguishers, how to choose the right class, and which one would be perfect for your home use.
Water mist extinguisher uses the latest technology that works across every type of fire. Water mist extinguishers cool down the fire by diminishing the oxygen supply. It is similar to a water extinguisher regarding recycling and chemical-free perspective.
How it works — It works in the form of microscopic water molecules that fight with fire at different levels. Whenever fog-like microscopic molecules dispersed on fire, oxygen in the air gets decreased suffocating the fire. As soon as water particles are drawn to fire, water cools it and reduce the temperature.
The distinguishing feature about a water mist extinguisher is de-ionization – removal of minerals. In this way, it can be used on electrical fire because de-ionization makes it the best conductor.
Suitable For — It’s safe and effective to use on class A, B, C, and K fires. This extinguisher cannot be used on class D (metals) fire. Few of them seem perfect for use on electrical equipment that takes 1,000 Volts like printers or computers.
CO2 extinguisher comprises of pressurized carbon dioxide gas only with no residue. It generates cold discharge upon release which replaces CO2 with oxygen ultimately putting the fire out.
How it works — You may feel your hands cold and numb upon release causing fingers to freeze. Such extinguishers can cause suffocation in restricted spaces. It is considered as one of the cleanest types of extinguishers because it doesn’t leave residue and no cleanup is required.
Suitable for — This extinguisher seems suitable for class B & C type fire and electrical fires including computer equipment on large scale, especially in offices. It doesn’t cause a short circuit to the electrical system.
Foam extinguishers are some of the best for liquid fires, such as gasoline fires, but can also be used on Class A fires involving solid combustibles like wood.
How it works —Foam fire extinguisher sprays a type of foam that develops when it hits the air. It avoids vapors from rising off the liquid. As far as the foam is mixed with water, it gets a cooling effect. Such extinguishers leave residue behind to be cleaned up.
Suitable For — Foam fire extinguishers smother the fire in solids and liquids. Therefore, it is considered appropriate and best fit for class A and B (flammable liquids) but not efficient for gaseous fires. These can be used on some electrical fires if fired from 1 meter away.
Water fire extinguishers are the easiest, less expensive, and most commonly used extinguishers because it contains water. Its categorized product includes a special type of material that makes the water more effective in reducing the size and weight of the extinguisher.
How it works — Water extinguishers can be used to tackle a variety of fires with the least hazard since its composition includes water molecules. It cools down the fire by soaking it as well as mix combustible material with water. What would be the effect of it? It will absorb heat from burning objects.
Suitable For — It only supports class A type of fire consisting of wood, straw, coal, rubber, and paper, etc. it cannot be used on burning fat, liquids, metals, or electrical appliances.
Dry Powder Extinguishers
Dry powder extinguishers are much similar to dry chemical powder that extinguish the fire by removing fuel from the oxygen element. Removal of oxygen means alleviating the heating element of the fire triangle.
However, dry powder extinguishers are for Class D or combustible metal fires, only. They are ineffective on all other classes of fires.
How it works — Dry powder forms a thick layer on fire preventing it from dispersion. Although, the powder doesn’t penetrate into the combustible material so doesn’t leave a cooling effect. Take extra care while using powder because its inhalation can be hazardous, so it should be used in open areas. In domestic premises, powder causes furnishing and machinery outage that requires a handsome amount for renovation.
Suitable For — Dry powder extinguishers are used to fight against class A, B, C fires. Some special dry powder extinguishers are in the market to tackle type D fires that also work on magnesium, lithium, and aluminum metals. Don’t use it on class F fires!
Clean agent fire extinguisher – a type of gaseous fire suppression is easy and safe to use leaving no residue behind. It stays in the atmosphere for a very short time span.
How it works — It comes in liquid form. When it is sprinkled on fire, it hits the air and converts liquid to its non-conductive and safe gaseous form. The gas contains a halogen that extinguishes oxygen level and ultimately put the fire off.
Suitable For — Clean agent fire extinguishers are effective in class B and C fires.
The wet chemical is an agent that put off the fire by removing the heating element from the fire triangle. It creates a barrier between fuel and oxygen elements.
How it works — The wet chemical comes in the liquid solution composed of potassium. Its spray act as cooling droplets that lower down the temperature by forming thick soap-like a substance layer. Liquid seals the external surface to prevent re-ignition.
Suitable For — Wet chemical fire extinguishers primarily focused on K class fires involving cooking media like animal and vegetable oil. Somehow, it can also be effective for class A fires.