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Fire Protection Blog

How to Select the Right Portable Fire Extinguisher

Posted by Dave Orner

how to select a fire extinguisherWhen thinking about how to select the right fire extinguisher, ask, "What type of fire is burning?" It is extremely important to have the proper fire extinguisher for the type of fire that is burning. Many people assume that a fire extinguisher will put out any type of fire and this is not the case. Specific types of fires require a specific type of fire extinguisher. Some fire extinguishers will leave a powder mess behind and damage sensitive equipment, while other fire extinguishers will leave hardly a trace and not damage sensitive equipment such as computers. In order to help you select the right fire extinguisher, this article will explore the different types of fires and the correct type of fire extinguisher to use.

Fires are categorized in different types of classes, Class A, B, C, D and K. The class is determined by the materials involved in the fire. A class A fire involves common combustibles, such as wood or paper. Class B fires involves flammable liquids such as gas or oil. Class C fires involve energized electricity such as a fire involving a surge protector. Class D fires involve combustible metal fires, such as aluminum. Class K fires involve cooking oils and are generally found in restaurant kitchens.

So in order to determine the type of fire extinguisher you need you need to access the situation and the surroundings you will place the extinguisher. Generally for home or office use an ABC fire extinguisher will cover all the bases, it would cover combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical type of fires. A big cooking space that has a lot of frying oil in a deep fryer would require a K-Class fire extinguisher as well as fire suppression system. A Halotron fire extinguisher leaves no residue and is a good choice when sensitive equipment is involved.

The first thing to do in assessing the type of fire extinguisher needed is determine the type of fire that could occur. A building fire assessment from a qualified technician could help facilitate this process. A technician could determine the type, size and weight of the fire extinguisher needed. A qualified technician or local fire authority could also help in the correct placement of the fire extinguisher and the correct number of fire extinguishers that would be needed to meet building standards and codes.

Portable fire extinguishers are what the name implies, they are easily carried, or portable. They help you get to the source of the fire and help extinguish it. They are meant for small fires that if not extinguished, could turn into large, uncontrolled fires. If the fire is not extinguished with the fire extinguisher call your local fire department or 911.

Placement is also important. Portable fire extinguishers should be placed in a very visible location that has an unobstructed view, placed along normal travel paths and the extinguisher instructions facing outward so if an untrained person is using the fire extinguisher, they can easily see how to operate the extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should also be placed within easy reach, and placed in corridors or aisles that lead to an exit, never be blocked by equipment or stacked boxes, and be placed by potential fire hazards. Place the fire extinguisher so it will not potentially be cut off from a fire, or be damaged by equipment, such as a fork lift. Place it where they will be protected from the elements. A fire extinguisher cabinet could help facilitate this. The placement of signage indicating the fire extinguisher in red helps letting clients, customers, and employees know where the fire extinguishers can be found easily if ever needed.

You portable fire extinguisher is required to be serviced once a year for business, but it is also advisable for home use also. This insures that your fire extinguisher is in proper working order, the gage is working, the seals are intact and pressurized correctly.  This will insure the fire extinguisher will be ready in case of that dreaded emergency.

If you have anything to add or questions about this, let us know in the comments.


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Tags: Fire Extinguishers

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