Fire extinguishers come in all kinds of sizes, and contain many different extinguishing agents.
Pressurized water, some with chemical additives, pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2), pressurized Halon gases are some special purpose examples, but the most commonly found extinguishers are pressurized dry chemical, which contain a variety of powders, some that are similar to baking soda.
Dry Chem, as they are known, extinguishers typically are rated for use on 3 of the 4 types of fires commonly found in homes – A,B, and C .
‘A’ fires are paper, wood, ‘B’ are oil and grease, and ‘C’ are energized electrical fires. ‘D’ fires, which are burning metals, like aluminum or magnesium, are generally not found outside of industry , or a well involved vehicle fire.
(A quick word on grease fires- never try to move a burning pan of hot oil, sliding a dry lid over the pan usually will extinguish it without further drama. Be sure to turn off the element as well.)
All extinguishers are very user friendly, and with a little knowledge, very effective. The ‘PASS’ word is all you will need to remember should you be faced with a fire and have made the personal decision to safely try to extinguish it.
-Pull the safety pin
-Aim at the base of the fire ( not the top of the Flames)
-Squeeze the handle gently to start the discharge of suppressant
-Sweep gently side to side over the seat of the fire.
Most fires in the start up phase (incipient) require a relatively small amount of suppressant to be extinguished, so use one second blasts and monitor the results, rather than dumping the entire contents all at once. The extinguisher does not create a lot of back pressure, so do not fear being knocked over when discharging.
Fire extinguishers have to be examined to ensure they are still functional, and haven’t been tampered with. The gauge should read full and the pin retaining plastic tie should be intact.
They should be mounted in an easy to reach location that is near an exit, so you aren’t seaching in a cabinet while the fire gets bigger and blocks your escape.
All extinguishers need immediate attention once they have been used, do not hang it up again as it will not work the next time.
After 6 years they need to be professionally examined, and at 12 years they need it again as well as having a pressure test.
This only applies to quality fire extinguishers with metal discharge valves. The ones with plastic valves are throw away items after 6 years.
The GVFD sells top quality fire extinguishers at Firehall 1, so give us a call- 250-247-9677. If you would like a personal lesson, we can do that too.