Fire extinguishers are effective tools in frontline firefighting. They are used to dowse small fires before they spread or become major fires. There are different types of fires, so are extinguishers. This means there are varied techniques for handling fires. For instance, handling a blaze caused by electrical faults is different from that fuelled by grease. Each type of fire requires specific extinguishers for safe and effective fire management.
Class A Extinguisher
This type of extinguisher is used in handling ordinary combustible materials. These extinguishers normally contain water and are suitable for fires caused by wood, cardboard, plastic or paper. Such extinguishers are marked with a numerical rating that indicates their water capacity and the amount of fire they can extinguish.
Class B Extinguishers
These extinguishers are used on fires caused by flammable liquids such as oil, kerosene and grease among others. Such liquids tend to spatter when sprinkled with water. Oxygen plays a key role in the escalation of fires. The spatter occurs because water is loaded with oxygen.
Class B extinguishers contain sodium bicarbonate, carbon dioxide, powder, monoammonium phosphate and foam. They also have a numerical indicator showing the square footage that can be extinguished by its content.
Class C Extinguishers
This is the most appropriate extinguisher for electrical fires. It can be spread on wiring, circuit breakers, outlets and appliances. Do not use water because it can cause electrical shock. The extinguisher is filled with powder, foam, carbon dioxide, potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate. These substances do not pose any risk of electrical shock because they do not conduct electricity. Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating.
Class D Extinguishers
These extinguishers are designed to be used with combustible metals such as potassium, magnesium, titanium and sodium. They are suitable for use in chemical laboratories. The extinguishers do not have numerical rating and are designed for handling fires caused by specific metals. In addition, they can be used to put out fires caused by hazardous materials.
Class K Extinguishers
Class K extinguishers are used to dowse fires fuelled by vegetable oils, cooking fats and animal oils. These extinguishes are commonly found in restaurants and cafeterias as well as home kitchens.
Multiple Class Extinguishers
Some extinguishing materials can be used to extinguish fires caused by different substances. Such extinguishers have multiple functions. For instance, extinguishers with foam or powder are suitable for class A, B and C use.
Extinguishers with sodium and potassium bicarbonate are suitable for Class B and C use. Extinguishers with monoammonium phosphate are not suitable for electrical devices because they leave behind a sticky residue. However, they can be used to cover class A, B and C uses.
The main function of fire extinguishers is rather obvious; to put out fires. What many people may not know is that there are different types of fire extinguisher that can be used in a home each with specific content and functions. Using the recommended type of extinguisher for a fire can make the difference between damaged property and extinguished fire.