Fire extinguishers are vital for use to quench a fire during a fire incident. Having a fire extinguisher in our homes and workplaces is a smart idea. In some places, it’s a legal requirement for you to do so. It is important to know the right type of extinguisher you need to get, store and use to put out a fire in your home in a case involving a fire emergency.
The first thing to do is to decide which rooms in your house need a fire extinguisher. You should at least keep one in places where a fire is likely to start. For instance, in the kitchen –where you have to make use of electrical appliances and cooking oil.
CHOOSE YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
We have different fire extinguishers for different classes of fire. Before you choose which one you have to purchase for your home, you’ll have to know the class of fire that can occur in your home. And that will determine the right type of fire extinguisher you’ll need.
FIVE CLASSES OF FIRE.
There are five classes of fire. We have class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and class F.
- Class A fires are combustible material and flammable solids, such as wood, paper, nylon, and fabric.
- Class B fires are flammable liquids such as turpentine, paint, and petrol.
- Class C fires are flammable gases such as butane or methane.
- Class D fires are combustible metals: chemicals such as magnesium, aluminium or potassium.
- Class F fires are cooking or vegetable oils: The type you see in a chip-pan fire.
However, electrical fire from electrical equipment is not regarded as a class of fire; once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes to a particular class.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER TYPES.
There are five types of fire extinguishers depending on the content. The classes of the extinguisher enable you to know the right type to use during fire damage. They are – Water, Foam, Dry Powder, CO2 and Wet Chemical Extinguishers.
1. WATER EXTINGUISHER.
Water extinguishers are the most common fire extinguisher type for class A fire. The label colour is bright red. And it’s mostly used for fires involving organic materials such as paper, wood, and cardboard. The cooling effect of the water on the fuel causes the fire to burn much more slowly until the flames are eventually put out. Organic materials can be seen mostly in all places in our house.
2. FOAM EXTINGUISHER.
Foam extinguishers are the most common type of fire extinguisher for Class B fires. They are water-based. They can as well be used for class-A fires. The label colour is cream. The foam extinguisher is not to be used for fires involving electrical equipment, kitchen fires or metals. The foam extinguisher works by having a cooling effect on the fuel under combustion. As a result of that, It creates a barrier between the flame and the fuel. And the fire will eventually quench.
3. DRY POWDER EXTINGUISHER.
Dry powder extinguishers are called ABC fire extinguishers. They have wide use for class A, class B and Class C types of fires. They are widely recommended internationally to be used in most places. The colour label is blue. It can be used for electrical fires and for fires involving flammable metals. For safety purposes, It is not recommended for use in an enclosed space. This is because the powder can easily be inhaled which can be very disastrous to health. It should not be used for fires involving electrical equipment that is over 1000v, or for fires involving cooking oil. A dry Powder extinguisher works by smothering the fire. And in turn, forms a barrier between the fuel and the source of oxygen.
4. CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) EXTINGUISHER.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers are used for Class B fires and for electrical fires. The colour label is black. Do not use it for class A fires, flammable metals or kitchen fires. CO2 extinguisher works by displacing the oxygen thereby preventing the combustion process from receiving the needed oxygen.
5. WET CHEMICAL EXTINGUISHER.
Wet chemical extinguishers are used for Class F fires. They can also be used on Class A fires. It has a label colour of yellow. It is not to be used for Flammable liquids or metals, and on electrical fires.
BUYING YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
Now that you have the knowledge of the many types of fire extinguishers we have and the classes of fire they can go for, you can head to the local store or market where they sell the product. Look out for fire extinguishers that you can easily lift. Don’t go for larger extinguishers since they may not be easy to carry but you must be able to use them properly.
LEARNING HOW TO USE YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
Once you’ve bought your fire extinguisher, you’ve to familiarize yourself with it. This will help you to get prepared in case you need to put out a fire. By and large, fire extinguishers are not too hard to use. In case of a fire, you’ve to use the simple P.A.S.S. methodology.
• P- Pull the pin. ( you have to cut the beaded tie before doing this )
• A – Aim at the fire with the nozzle pointed at the base of the fire.
• S – Squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher. (This will release the extinguishing agent).
• S – Sweep the nozzle from side to side (while pointed at the base of the fire until it is extinguished.) And if the fire re-ignites, repeat the last 3 steps.
WHERE TO LOCATE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
Fire extinguishers are best located where there is a risk of fire. In places where there is a high concentration of fuel and at fire exits.
It is not just enough to make the right choices when buying a fire extinguisher. It is not just enough to learn how to use a fire extinguisher. Or to have knowledge of where to locate a fire extinguisher. You’ll have to get more interest in fire prevention strategies. This will go a long way to ensure that the three fire elements don’t come in contact with each other to produce a risky fire in your home. Proactive measures are the key And when you get it, a fire will be easily curtailed during fire emergencies with the fire extinguisher.
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.