Fire extinguishers are a vital part of any home and business, with the help of which they can prevent or put out fires in a matter of minutes. They should be fitted near exits, so that anyone can access them quickly and safely in the event of a fire.
When choosing a fire extinguisher, it is important to consider the kind of fuel and type of equipment you have in your home or work premises. The best way to do this is to consult your local fire department or a specialist company that supplies extinguishers, and ask them which type of fire extinguisher will be most effective in the situation.
The most common types of fire extinguishers are those that contain dry chemical foam or powder, which is effective against flammable liquids and gases. These include sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), potassium bicarbonate, and monoammonium phosphate.
These materials are suitable for fighting fires involving flammable liquids, gasoline, cooking oil, and most other types of ordinary combustibles. They also control fires involving electrical appliances or circuitry.
They are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and are often designed for specific applications. Some are able to be recharged for easy use.
Others are designed to be mounted on vehicles or equipment, such as tractors and combines, where they can be used to put out fires that could spread throughout the vehicle. In many countries, they are required by law to be fitted to identified classes of vehicles.
Depending on the manufacturer, some fire extinguishers can be charged using compressed carbon dioxide or nitrogen. The latter is especially useful on low-temperature (-60 rated) fires.
Some extinguishers use pressure gauges to tell the user when there is a problem with the pressure in the device. This allows the operator to check that the extinguisher is still under sufficient pressure to make it work, and may allow it to be recharged if it is past its prime.
It is essential to clean the extinguisher regularly, and to replace it when it reaches its expiry date. It is also recommended to have it inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every few years to ensure that the extinguisher is working efficiently and that there are no visible signs of damage or rust.
If the extinguisher has a pressure gauge, it should read in the green zone and show adequate pressure to make it effective. If it does not, the extinguisher needs to be replaced or pressure tested by a qualified professional.
The extinguisher should also be shaken regularly to ensure that it does not become compacted and unable to function properly. Shaking the extinguisher also helps prevent leaks and corrosion of the hoses and nozzles, which can cause the extinguisher to fail to work in an emergency.
It is a good idea to have one in your kitchen, for instance, where there may be a fire involving food or grease. You should also keep a dry chemical extinguisher in your garage for flammable gas, such as gasoline or heating oil.