What Is a Fire Extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers are devices that put out fires by flooding the burning area with a water or chemical-based agent. These can be fitted to motor vehicles and buildings. Some fire departments also offer training on how to use fire extinguishers. They are also required by law in many jurisdictions.
A fire extinguisher is a large cylinder filled with a water or chemical-based agent. It has a handle that can be operated by a hand, and a nozzle that discharges the agent. Water-based agents can be used to extinguish flammable liquids and burning solids, while a chemical-based agent is a better choice for putting out a fire caused by electrical equipment or combustible metals.
Extinguishers have been around since the early 20th century. There are several types of extinguishers to choose from, including water, dry chemical, and dry gas. Each has its own characteristics and uses.
The most popular type of fire extinguisher is the dry chemical. These are made from potassium chloride or ordinary sodium bicarbonate and are primarily used to extinguish fires in class A, B, and C. Many dry chemicals can be mixed together to create special formulas. One example of this is MET-L-KYL, a mixture of silica gel particles and sodium bicarbonate. During combustion, MET-L-KYL interrupts the chain reaction of the fuel by preventing the release of flammable vapors.
Another type of fire extinguisher is a pressurized one. Typically, these are found in commercial premises and in watercraft. In a pressurized extinguisher, a short hose connects to a nozzle, directing the extinguishing agent to the burning material. Depending on the type of extinguisher, the nozzle may be jet or spray shaped. Using a pressurized extinguisher is easy and the nozzle is relatively safe to use.
A cartridge-operated extinguisher is an alternative to a pressurized model. This is an easy and convenient option for people who do not want to carry a cylinder with them. It has an advantage of quick recharge and requires no maintenance. However, some have the disadvantage of a plastic discharge horn that can damage skin and can be cold.
In the United States, the first type of extinguisher to appear on the market was the Met-L-X. It was introduced by Ansul in 1949. Later, more types of fire extinguishers were developed. Some extinguishers are made out of metal, while others are made out of plastic or foam. Other varieties of extinguishers include Pyrene brass carbon tetrachloride, Super-K, and Purple-K.
A CO2 extinguisher is another popular choice. This is an effective form of putting out fires in class C, but can cause damage to people’s skin. As with other forms of extinguisher, a CO2 extinguisher requires a person to push the lever and squeeze the button. Those extinguishers can be a little hard to find. Fortunately, some of these types are available in the rest of the world.
Regardless of which type of extinguisher you use, remember to keep it in an easy-to-access location. Ideally, it should be mounted at least 8 feet away from a fire.