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21Jan, 2021

How to use a Fire Extinguisher?

We all are aware of the increasing rate of fire disasters because of which millions of people lost their lives and assets. So, it is very crucial to have some basic firefighting equipment for the safety from fire. Every kind of building must have a fire extinguisher for fire safety. A fire extinguisher is a very effective firefighting device. Fire extinguishers act as a blanket over the fire. A fire extinguisher is basically an apparatus that consists of a pressure agent that can extinguish the fire.

Fire extinguishers are of different types:

  • DCP (Dry Chemical Powder) Fire Extinguisher.
  • CO2 Fire Extinguisher.
  • Foam Fire Extinguisher.
  • Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher.
  • Water Type Fire Extinguisher.
  • Fire Ball Extinguisher.

But having a fire extinguisher is not enough, it is also essential that people should be trained in its use and should know some technical points about it. For effective and efficient results of the fire extinguisher, we must know different types of fire and types of extinguishers that can work on these classes of fire. Because choosing the wrong type of extinguisher can have life-threatening consequences.

Now the question is what are different types of fire that fire extinguish can smother?

Here is the answer to this question.

Types of Fire 

There are different types of fire, These are as following:

1. Class A (Ordinary Combustibles):

Class A fire is the most common class of fire and we all are familiar with this class of fire. This class of fire contains many ordinary combustibles like wood, fabric, paper, plastic, rubber, and trash.  Class A fire occurs when the ordinary combustible materials reached their ignition temperature and burning starts at that stage. The flames continue burning as long as there is an excess of oxygen because the supply of oxygen is the major cause of ignition. We can easily extinguish the fire. We can extinguish class A fire with water fire extinguishers, DCP Fire Extinguisher, and Foam Fire Extinguisher. A can of water that can spray water on the flames can be used for smothering it. 

Class A fires are commonly put out with water or mono ammonium phosphate. We can also extinguish it with the help of a fire blanket or other materials or products. 

2. Class B (Flammable Liquids, Greases):

Class B fire includes flammable liquids like gasoline, acetone, kerosene, grease, paint, and alcohols. Flammable liquids catch on the fire and start burning easily at normal working temperature. Once the class B fire starts it is very difficult to control the fire and prevent its spreading. This class of fire involves nonmetal burning in a liquid state. It is a common hazard in industries that are dealing with lubricants and paints. We can extinguish this class of fire by simply cut off the supply of oxygen. We can extinguish class B fire by using Carbon dioxide extinguishers because when we fill CO2 gas in a cylinder at very high pressure it becomes cold and creates a barrier between the fire and oxygen cutting down the supply of oxygen to the fire and smother the fire in a very effective way.

3. Class C (Gases):

The Source of class C fire involves burning gases. Most commonly used flammable gases include methane, butane, and propane that have the potential to cause an explosion. It is one of the most dangerous classes of fire and is very difficult to control. Gases add the fuel to the fire and fuel is one of the components of the fire triangle. So the locations that store burning gases must adopt some precautionary measures to avoid the fire hazards. Additionally, as flammable gases are heavier than air, they can travel a significant distance to an ignition source, which means the fire can spread rapidly. Flammable gases can cause an explosion and can lead to the severe impact.

It is very difficult to extinguish class C fire. Before extinguishing the fire one should make sure that the supply of gas is first isolated because most of the fire extinguisher is ineffective to smother this class of fire. We can extinguish Class C fire by using Dry powder extinguisher. 

4. Class D (Combustible Metals):

Combustible metals can cause significant fire hazards as they are good conductors and transfer heat very rapidly. Certain metals like potassium, sodium, and aluminum. These metals burn when they come in contact with the fire and air. These metals even in the powdered form can cause a fire. We need great care to extinguish Class D fire because water, foam, and another extinguishing agent can excite the metals and cause massive burning. 

5. Class E (Energized Electrical Fire):

Electrical Fire can originate from energized electrical equipment. It can start ignition in wires, cables, circuit breakers, and other electrical components. An electrical fire can start because of overloading on the circuits when the supply of electricity is inadequate. Electrical fires are often fueled by motors, appliances, and electronic transformers.

It is very tricky to put off Class E fire. Firstly, we need to cut off the supply of electricity, and then we need to choose the ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher for spraying the powder over the fire. This powder will prevent the supply of oxygen to the flames and smother the fire efficiently. 

6. Class F (Cooking Fats):

Class F contains cooking oil and fats as a source of this class of fire. Cooking fires are fueled by a wide range of liquid cooking materials. Greases, cooking oils, vegetable fat, and animal fat are all fuel sources. It is very difficult to extinguish oil fire because it involves high temperatures. Using water to extinguish a cooking fire can worse the fire and can cause huge fire damage to the building. 

This is why we use a special fire extinguisher to extinguish the cooking fire. Wet chemical extinguishers contain a formula that cools the fire and prevents re-ignition.

How to use Fire Extinguisher?

Once we understand the fire classes and extinguishers used for each class of fire next question is How to use Fire Extinguisher? Using methodology is different for different types of fire extinguishers.

How to Use a Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher?

There are different techniques of using the DCP fire extinguisher for different types of fire.

If the fire occurs from different combustible material like wood or solid, then aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire and then sweep the extinguisher across the fire in a steady motion.

If the fire occurs due to liquid, the powder jet should be directed at the nearest edge of the fire, and a sweeping motion used to work backward from there.

For the fire involving electrical equipment, we must disconnect the power supply, and then use the fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire. When the fire appears to be out, allow the area to clear and check for any areas of remaining fire and use the extinguisher again.

A powder fire extinguisher cannot work on all types of fire, because the powder can penetrate some appliances and there is a danger that fire can start again.

How to use CO2 Fire Extinguisher?

Direct the horn at the base of the fire and move across in a sweeping motion. When the fire appears to be out, check for a while afterward for any areas of remaining fire and use the extinguisher again if necessary.

We cannot use a CO2 fire extinguisher for extinguishing oil fires because the jet will spread the burning oil everywhere. So, it cannot work efficiently on the cooking fires. CO2 Fire Extinguisher can be harmful to human health if not used in prescribed quantity, so we must use CO2 fire extinguisher with great care. It is necessary to ensure that the area is ventilated after we use it. 

How to use Foam Fire Extinguisher?

We use a foam fire extinguisher for fires involving flammable liquid. When the burning liquid is inside a container, direct the jet of foam at the inside edge of the container. This breaks the jet and allows the foam to flow gently over the surface of the liquid, extinguishing the fire. Another alternative is that direct the jet of foam from a distance in a sweeping motion so that it drops down onto the surface of the fire without breaking it up.

We cannot use foam fire extinguishers to extinguish fat/oil fire. On burning, liquids do not aim the foam directly into the liquid as this will send it into the liquid and make it ineffective. It could also cause splashing and therefore spread the fire around.

How to use Water Fire Extinguisher?

For using the water fire extinguisher, we have to direct the jet of water at the firebase and sweep it back and forth across the fire. If the fire is spreading vertically, start at the lowest point and work upwards. After using it we must ensure that all the area is free from fire and if you see any single flame, then extinguish it completely. 

How to use Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher?

For using the wet chemical fire extinguisher, use the jet to spray the chemical in a steady circular motion. This is the only type of fire extinguisher that we can use to extinguish fat fires.

Care and Maintenance of Fire Extinguisher

For 100% results and durability of the fire extinguishers, proper care and maintenance are essential.

The care and maintenance of the fire extinguisher is as following.

For proper care and maintenance following instructions are very crucial for the service providing company and end-user. 

  1. Fire extinguishers should be installed at arm able height with proper fixing on the hook. 
  2. Service providing company should label Instructional sticker and pressure gauge on the front side for the clear visibility of the instructions to everyone.
  3. All the extinguishers should be properly sealed. Fire extinguisher with broken seal requires repairing from service providing company.
  4. Proper stickers of the expiry should be fixed on every fire extinguisher.
  5. An instructional chart by the end-user or service providing company should be available to every department of the office or factory premises. 
  6. An instructional chart for the 12-month inspection should be on every fire extinguisher. 
  7. It is the responsibility of the end-user to depart any competent person for the checking of the fire extinguisher every month and after checking if any fault arises. He should mention instructions in remarks history with a proper signature.
  8. End-user responsible person should ensure that all the fire extinguishers stored pressure needle of the pressure gauge is in the middle of the green area and properly sealed.
  9. If the seal is broken they should their Admin department or service providing company. 

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