Fire extinguishers are portable devices that are intended to be used to put out fires in various types of buildings. They are available in many forms and are usually categorized into water-based, wet chemical, powder, foam or gas-type extinguishers.
Class A (water-based) extinguishers provide a heat-absorbing effect on the fuel to extinguish the fire by cooling the fuel below its ignition temperature. They are often used in commercial buildings such as warehouses, factories, and retail stores. They can also be found in motor vehicles, boats, and aircraft.
The water-based fire extinguishers can be divided into handheld and cart-mounted models. The handheld models are typically smaller and more portable than the cart-mounted units, which can weigh up to 23 kilograms (51 lb).
There are also different types of dry chemical extinguishers ranging from a small disposable unit that is meant for home use to an 18 lb (8.2 kg) US Navy cartridge-operated purple-K fire extinguisher that is effective on pyrophoric (ignites on contact with air) liquid fires, and two Super-K units that are designed to extinguish both wet and dry chemical fires.
Specialized variations of sodium bicarbonate, known as Met-L-Kyl / PyroKyl, are used to fight pyrophoric liquid fires by interfering with the chain reaction that ignites the fuel and soaking up the unburned fuel so it can’t reach the oxygen that it needs to burn. The specialization helps prevent re-ignition, which can lead to serious injury and death.
Using a fire extinguisher can be a daunting task for some people, especially if they haven’t had any experience using them in the past. The good news is that it’s not impossible to learn how to use a fire extinguisher, as long as you practice and take the time to prepare beforehand.
When you first decide to use a fire extinguisher, make sure it’s working properly. Check the gauge to ensure that it’s pressurized and fully charged. Then, move to the proper distance from the fire and start discharging it.
Remember to aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and then sweep it from side to side until the entire fire is out. This will help to avoid spraying the fuel in the air and doing damage to the building’s rafters and walls.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as the right person can do a lot of work quickly and effectively to help put out the fire. Even if you don’t have any friends or family in your community, consider asking someone you know and trust to help you out.
Some experts say that it’s not only important to use a fire extinguisher correctly but also to have the correct mindset about fire safety. They suggest preparing a plan with your family and friends so everyone knows exactly where to find the fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.
What’s most important is to follow the fire extinguisher’s manufacturer’s instructions when using it, and be sure to call the local fire department before you discharge your extinguisher. They will be able to assess the situation and determine whether the fire was put out properly and safely.