Fire Extinguisher facts
Many homeowners wisely own one or more fire extinguishers, small metal canisters that propel a directed spray of flame-retardant chemicals. With an extinguisher at the ready, you can douse a small fire before it gets out of control, or contain a larger blaze long enough for firefighters to arrive. But the extinguisher needs to be the right type and must be maintained in order to do its job in an emergency.
Note: Don’t use your fire extinguisher if you aren’t sure you have the proper type of extinguisher, if you don’t know how to use it or if you are in imminent danger from the fire.
What Type of Extinguisher Do You Have?
No fire extinguisher can be safely and effectively used for every type of fire. Generally, fire extinguishers are categorized based on the type of chemical agents they contain and the types of fires they combat. This information appears on the extinguisher’s label, along with instructions for use.
The types of fires are:
- A class: ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper.
- B class: combustible liquids, such as kerosene, gasoline, oil, and grease.
- C class: electrical fires that involve circuit breakers, wires, outlets and other electrical devices and equipment.
- D class: combustible metals, such as sodium, potassium, titanium and magnesium.
- K class: vegetable oils and animal fats; these fires generally happen in kitchens.
These are few of the most common extinguisher types:
- Dry chemical: suited for A-B-C or B-C class fires, these common types of extinguishers are found in schools, homes, hospitals, offices, garages, kitchens and laboratories.
- Carbon dioxide: suited for B-C class fires, these extinguishers are often used in laboratories, computer rooms and other areas with sensitive equipment.
- Water: most suited for A class fires; cannot be used in B-C-D class fires. These extinguishers are inexpensive and environmentally friendly.
- Wet chemical: suited for A-K class fires, these devices are often employed in commercial kitchens and restaurants.
Check Your Extinguisher
At least once a year:
- Make sure your extinguisher is in a conspicuous and readily accessible place.
- Make sure the pressure dial reads in the green or “charged” area.
- Check that the pull pin is securely fastened within the handle and held in place by the tamper seal.
- Make sure the nozzle is unblocked.
- Check for visible dents or cracks in the extinguisher body.
- Review how to use the extinguisher with everyone in your house.
How Long Will a Fire Extinguisher Last?
Fire extinguishers eventually expire for a few different reasons.
- Over time, the seal on the neck weakens and allows compressed gas to escape. Extinguishers that have lost much of their pressure will not operate. You can check the extinguisher’s pressure with a pressure gauge.
- A-B-C class extinguishers can fail when the chemical in the canister base solidifies. You can delay this process by periodically shaking the extinguisher.
Unfortunately, you can’t trust an extinguisher’s expiration date and there is no surefire way to know if your extinguisher will still work. Because fires can be extremely destructive and fire extinguishers are relatively low-cost, go ahead and replace or recharge any extinguishers you aren’t sure of.
We're Here for You
The team at SERVPRO of Decatur has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, water and mold damage, and chemical and bio-hazard cleanup. Call us today (256) 340-1541.