PORTABLE FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT.
If you’re a worker or a visitor in any company or an organization or you’re a visitor to a public place or you may have been using a public vehicle or a train during your trips.
There is a likelihood that you may have seen a portable fire extinguisher in those offices, vehicles, or on that train you’ve been using and in the offices, they are being positioned in strategic areas where there is a possibility of fire risk.
All though, it’s a legal requirement to have a fire extinguisher in companies, in vehicles, in homes, and factories and of which may attract legal fines or penalty when not done.
Well, what always comes to your mind when you see a fire extinguisher?
Are you aware that your knowledge of types of fire extinguishers will be of help to you during any fire emergency?
In this article, I will expose you to the different types of fire extinguishers with their colour codes and the class of fire you can easily fight with them.
PORTABLE FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT COLOUR-CODED LABEL.
Most of the portable fire extinguisher cylinders exist in a red-coloured body or stainless steel body and some will have a full black-coloured body in addition to that, they also have a colour-coded label if need be. The colour-coded label differentiates each from one other which also depends on the content of the cylinder.
When the colour-coded label is red, it means that the content of the fire extinguisher is water. and if it’s a cream colour, it means that the content of the extinguisher is foam. Black colour means that the content is carbon (IV) oxide. And if it’s blue, it means that the content is a dry powder. When it’s yellow, the content is a wet chemical.
It’s good to know the colour-coded label but would be great if you also know the class of fire that applies to each of the extinguishers. And this will also guide you in the choice of fire extinguishers when purchasing at a local store.
CLASSES OF FIRE.
There are five major classes of fire and they mostly depend on the nature in which the burning substance exists. They are the CLASS A FIRE, CLASS B FIRE, CLASS C FIRE, CLASS D FIRE and CLASS F FIRE.
- Class A fire involves combustible material and flammable solids like wood, fabric and paper.
- Class B fire involves flammable liquids like petrol, diesel and paints.
- Class C Fires involve flammable gases such as butane and methane.
- Class D Fire involves combustible metals like magnesium and potassium.
- Class F fire involves cooking oils.
More so, we have electrical fires, though they are not among the classes of fire and when there is a fire involving electrical equipment as the source, it becomes any of the fire five classes depending on the substance around the electrical source.
A good fire risk assessment document can capture everything about a fire in a particular location if you know how to write it and in it, you’ll have the type of fire and the type of fire extinguisher and the extinguishing media that would take care of the fire during an emergency in your own particular office, or home.
PORTABLE FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT EXTINGUISHING MEDIA.
The extinguishing media in place are water, foam, dry powder, carbon (IV) oxide, wet chemical and fire blanket
The action of water on the fire is that it penetrates the burning material and cools the heat. And the resultant steam produced will have a smothering effect on the fire. A water extinguisher is better used to fight CLASS A FIRES.
This forms a layer on top of the burning substance and in turn, wades off the oxygen that supports the burning process. It also has a cooling effect on the burning material. Foam extinguisher works best to fight CLASS B FIRES which involves flammable liquids and it also fights CLASS A FIRES.
This chemically inhibits the combustion process. The dry powder extinguishers are ABC FIRE EXTINGUISHERS or DRY CHEMICAL POWDER OR MULTI-PURPOSE FIRE EXTINGUISHER. And it’s mostly used on CLASS A fires involving flammable solids such as paper, wood, and textiles. Also on CLASS B FIRES such as flammable liquids and CLASS C FIRES involving flammable gases. And for fires involving electrical equipment.
CARBON (IV) OXIDE.
This works better in fighting fires emanating from live electrical equipment. The gas doesn’t damage the equipment. Co2 extinguishers contain pure carbon (IV) oxide. It’s clean and when used, it leaves no residue. It’s mostly used in fighting CLASS B FIRES- flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel etc.
Mainly used in offices, shops schools and hospitals where there are huge electrical fire risks and also in areas with high voltage like server rooms. Carbon (IV) Oxide fire extinguishers don’t work by cooling the fire instead, it works by replacing the oxygen surrounding the flame with carbon (IV) oxide.
This is a pressurized alkaline solution and it’s best used for CLASS F FIRES involving cooking oils. When the wet chemical is used, it reacts with the burning oil by producing a soapy scum which traps vapours. When this happens, it blocks off the oxygen and produces some cooling thereby extinguishing the fire.
A fire blanket smothers the flames coming out from the burning process. It blocks off the oxygen supply. It’s mostly used on cooking oil fires.
Fire is good for many things like welding, cooking, burning, etc but an uncontrolled fire is a disaster. It causes more harm than good.
And that’s why it’s very expedient that everyone gets the knowledge about fire and knows what to do before any fire emergency. Knowledge about the classes of fire and the extinguishing media can go a long way to ensure that the fire is properly handled.
If the topic resonates with you, why not share your views with me in the comment section?
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.