Basically, a fire extinguisher is a device that is filled with smothering material that is compressed into a gaseous form. It is used to extinguish small fires that would otherwise have caused damage to a building. The smothering material can be either water or chemical foam.
The most commonly used extinguisher material is dry chemical foam. It is composed of finely divided sodium bicarbonate. A dip-tube is usually attached to the agent to ensure that it will be dispersed when released.
Another type of extinguisher is a dry powder agent. It is also made up of finely divided sodium bicarbonate, but it is stored pressure style. It can be used as a cartridge-operated or pressurized type. It is effective against class C fires.
A third type of fire extinguisher is a foam-type agent. It uses high-pressure to generate a fine spray. The nozzle is designed to direct the jet at the base of the flames. It is typically used to put out electrical appliance fires. However, some can be used on flammable liquid fires. A spray extinguisher works better on larger surface areas.
Some fire extinguishers are also manufactured in tank-type styles. These extinguishers require multiple manufacturing operations to produce. They are often placed in a factory or building, and are kept at certain points throughout the premises. They are also useful for putting out fires in outdoor settings.
One of the most common types of extinguishers is the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher. This is a gas that is used on both electrical and burning liquid fires. Unlike other extinguishing agents, the carbon dioxide in this system doesn’t leave any residue after use. It’s also highly effective at putting out most types of fire. It’s also non-conductive, meaning it won’t short-circuit electrical equipment. This type of extinguisher is especially beneficial for putting out electrical fires.
An alternative to the CO2 fire extinguisher is the bromochlorodifluoromethane (Halon 1211) extinguisher. This chemical is similar to carbon dioxide but has the advantage of being able to be used in cold weather. It’s also much more powerful. It can put out a fire in about two minutes. It’s effective against class B and C fires, but it is a bit less effective against class A fires.
For most fires, a water-based extinguisher will be the best option. The water will absorb heat from the burning object and will cool it. It can also be added with surfactants to penetrate further into the burning materials. They are generally less expensive to maintain and are very versatile. They aren’t effective on burning metals, though. They have a limited range of about 3 to 8 feet.
Aside from the extinguisher, you should always leave the burning area and call for help. You should also make sure there is nothing blocking access to the area. You should also keep a safe distance from the fire, and try to aim for the lowest level. If you can’t get to a safe place, evacuate the building immediately.