The Ultimate Guide to Fire Extinguishers: Types, Uses, And Maintenance

The Ultimate Guide to Fire Extinguishers: Types, Uses, And Maintenance
19 June 2023

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were over 1.3 million fires reported in the United States in 2021. These fires caused an estimated 3,800 deaths, 14,700 injuries, and $16 billion in property damage. The majority of these fires were residential fires, with 75% of fire deaths and 73% of fire injuries occurring in homes. Cooking equipment was the leading cause of residential fires, accounting for almost half of all reported fires. The electrical malfunction was the second leading cause, followed by intentional fires, smoking, and heating equipment.

Furthermore, we can all agree that fire safety has never been more important right now. Going back to 2012, when we only have less than 24% of the deaths occurring from fires, fire safety is taken seriously with fire extinguishers as the leading equipment. So, here’s your ultimate guide to fire extinguishers – particularly their types, uses, and how you can take care of it to last a long time!

What is a Fire Extinguisher and why is it important?

A fire extinguisher is a portable device used to extinguish fires, typically small fires, before they escalate into larger fires. The device is designed to contain and control flames and is an essential tool in preventing the spread of fires and minimizing damage.

There are so many different fire extinguishers in the market – and knowing which is the best type for your needs is vital. For example, a Class A fire extinguisher is designed to put out fires caused by wood, paper, and cloth, while a Class B fire extinguisher is designed to put out fires caused by flammable liquids like gasoline and oil.

So typically, for a residential home, sticking with class B to C fire extinguishers is just what you need. But if you are looking for one that suits a commercial building – particularly if you have a business or a corporate office to look for, continue reading.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

When it comes to choosing the right fire extinguisher, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. There are five main types of fire extinguishers: A, B, C, D, and K.

• Class A extinguishers are designed to put out fires in ordinary combustibles like paper, wood, and cloth.
• Class B extinguishers are used to put out fires caused by flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and grease.
• Class C extinguishers are used to put out fires in electrical equipment and appliances.
• Class D extinguishers are used to put out fires in flammable metals like magnesium and potassium.
• Finally, class K extinguishers are used to put out fires in cooking oils and fats, typically found in commercial kitchens.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you think you need class K fire extinguishers for your home, you have to think twice because usually, restaurants and other establishments in the food industry are the ones that utilize this. As mentioned, it is recommended to stick with Class B or C fire extinguishers.
By having the appropriate extinguisher on hand, you can help protect yourself, your family, and your property in the event of a fire.

Class A Fire Extinguishers: Uses and Maintenance

As the most common type of fire occurs in homes, offices, and public spaces, having a Class A Fire Extinguisher on hand is important. To be specific, the use of this type of extinguisher is for Paper, Cloth, Trash, Textiles, Wood, and anything that is flammable solid.

Maintenance: Maintaining Class A fire extinguishers is relatively easy – even though it is not done by many people. Moreover, they should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that they are in good working condition. This includes checking the pressure gauge to make sure that it is in the green zone, which indicates that the extinguisher is pressurized and ready for use.

Additionally, the extinguisher should be checked to make sure that the safety pin is intact, the nozzle is not clogged, and the hose is not damaged or cracked.

Class B Fire Extinguishers: Uses and Maintenance

Class B fire extinguishers are designed to put out fires that involve flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and grease. They are also effective in fighting fires caused by gases, such as propane and butane. These types of fires are particularly dangerous because they can quickly spread, causing significant damage and posing a significant risk to anyone in the vicinity.

Maintenance: This includes checking the pressure gauge to ensure that it is in the green zone, inspecting the cylinder for any signs of damage or corrosion, and making sure that the pull pin and tamper seal are intact.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In addition to regular maintenance, it is also important to position your Class B fire extinguisher in a convenient and accessible location. This may be in a garage, workshop, or storage area where flammable liquids are stored or used. Be sure to mount the extinguisher using a wall bracket and keep it at eye level, so it is easy to locate in an emergency.

Class C Fire Extinguishers: Uses and Maintenance

Class C fire extinguishers are designed to put out fires that involve electrical equipment, such as computers, appliances, and power tools. These types of fires can be tricky to extinguish, as using water or other conductive materials can actually make the situation worse and cause electrocution.

Maintenance: In terms of maintenance, it’s typically the same as how you maintain Class A and B Fire Extinguishers. Nonetheless, Class C fire extinguishers should be visually inspected monthly and professionally inspected annually. If any of the product components are missing or damaged, the extinguisher should be replaced immediately.

Class D Fire Extinguishers: Uses and Maintenance

Class D fire extinguishers are designed for use specifically on metal fires such as magnesium, sodium, or potassium. These fires are often found in industrial settings where these metals are being used, manufactured or stored. Class D fire extinguishers are not commonly found in residential areas but are a necessary safety measure in many industrial and laboratory settings.

Maintenance: It is important to ensure that the Class D fire extinguisher is stored in a dry, accessible location, and is not exposed to any corrosive or contaminant materials that could compromise its effectiveness. It is recommended that these fire extinguishers be inspected annually by a qualified fire safety professional to ensure they are in proper working order and have not been damaged in any way.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Ensure that all employees who may be exposed to a metal fire are properly trained in the use of Class D fire extinguishers. This training should include a thorough understanding of the types of metals that can ignite and how to properly operate the extinguisher in the event of a fire.

Class K Fire Extinguishers: Uses and Maintenance

Class K fire extinguishers are designed specifically for commercial kitchens and restaurants where fires involving cooking oils and fats are more likely to occur. These extinguishers use a wet chemical agent that reacts with the hot oil to create a soapy foam layer over the surface, effectively smothering the fire and preventing re-ignition.

Maintenance: It is important to follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer and ensure that the extinguisher is inspected and serviced by a professional on a regular basis. In addition, ensure that the extinguisher is easily accessible and located in a visible and easily reachable spot in the kitchen.

How to properly use a fire extinguisher?

Remember the acronym PASS which stands for
• Pull the pin
• Aim at the base of the fire
• Squeeze the handle
• Sweep the extinguisher from side to side

To understand more, here’s a specific instruction on how you can properly use a fire extinguisher: First, pull the safety pin from the handle. Then aim at the base of the fire, not the flames themselves. Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent and sweep from side to side until the fire is out.
REMEMBER: Always keep a safe distance from the fire and be sure that you have a clear escape path in case the fire gets out of control. It is important to only attempt to extinguish a fire if it is safe to do so. If the fire is too big or the flames are too high, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department.

Fire Prevention Tips for Workplace and Home

There are several steps that you can take to ensure that your workplace or home is safe from fires. Here are they:

  1. Invest in a good Smoke Detector

One of the most important things to do is to make sure that you have working smoke detectors installed in every room. Smoke detectors can alert you to a fire in its early stages, giving you time to evacuate the building and call the fire department.

  1. Incorporate Fire Extinguishers

You should have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your home or workplace. Make sure that they are easily accessible and that everyone knows how to use them.

  1. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to flammable materials
    It's also important to keep your workplace or home free from clutter and flammable materials. Be sure to store flammable liquids and chemicals in a safe location, away from heat sources and open flames. Don't overload electrical outlets or use damaged electrical cords.
  2. Organize, clean, and maintain your home regularly

If you have a fireplace or wood stove, make sure that it is properly maintained and cleaned regularly. Never leave a fire unattended, and be sure to use a screen to prevent sparks from escaping.

  1. Emergency Plan can save the day

In addition to the last 4 steps, it's a good idea to have an emergency plan in place. Make sure that everyone in your workplace or home knows what to do in case of a fire, and practice your fire escape plan regularly.

Why buy a 2.5kg Dry Chemical ABE Powder Fire Extinguisher?

If you are looking to purchase a fire extinguisher for your home or business, a 2.5kg Dry Chemical ABE Powder Fire Extinguisher is an excellent choice.

Here’s why:

Firstly, dry chemical ABE powder fire extinguishers are versatile and effective at putting out fires caused by flammable liquids, electrical equipment, and combustible materials like wood and paper. This makes them a popular choice for both commercial and residential settings.

Also, the 2.5kg size is compact and easy to handle, making it ideal for home use or for placement in smaller commercial spaces. It can be easily mounted on a wall or stored in a small cupboard, making it easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Additionally, dry chemical ABE powder fire extinguishers have a long shelf life and require minimal maintenance. They are designed to last for several years and require a simple annual inspection to ensure they are still in good working order.

Don't wait until it's too late, get your 2.5kg Dry Chemical ABE Powder Fire Extinguisher today and be prepared for any unexpected fire emergencies that may arise.

What to look for when it comes to Fire Extinguishers?

Aside from the size, the type of fire you may likely encounter, and maintenance methods, other things to look for when it comes to Fire Extinguishers are the country standard and rating. The Australian Standards fire extinguishers are ABE, Water, Co2 and Foam Fire Extinguishers. To ensure compliance, it is recommended to engage a qualified fire safety professional to inspect and maintain your fire extinguishers regularly. More so, to buy the right type for your property.

To lean on one side, you can choose from a list or categorized fire extinguishers offered by many outstanding companies. Doing so will allow you to do your due diligence to research and ensure that you are getting the worth of your money.

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher and which one to use in different situations can be life-saving, so be sure to study up and keep your extinguishers properly maintained. Remember, prevention is key to avoiding fires, so stay vigilant and keep fire safety in mind at all times.

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