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October 7, 2009

Importance of a Fire Extinguisher

On the subject of securing your home the thought of fire extinguishers comes to mind. Most modern homes are equipped with an oven, stove, and enough gadgets and electronics to stock a small Best Buy. Coupled with the fact that everything in our homes right down to the materials used to build the homes is very flammable, this creates a recipe for disaster. The best way to combat the potential fire hazards is to equip each room in your house with a fire extinguisher.

There are four different types of extinguishers. It is important to be familiar with each different type to know how to combat the different types of fires.

-Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. Class A extinguishers use water and are rated with a number and that number represents the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it extinguishes.

-Class B extinguishers are for combustible or flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The number used to rate the extinguisher indicates the square feet of fire it can extinguish. Class B extinguishers use carbon dioxide to starve the fire of oxygen which puts it out. Water is no good and should never be thrown on a Class B fire.

-Class C extinguishers are used to put out electrical fires such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. A Class C fire is another one you never want to use water on because you run the risk of electrical shock. Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating and the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Class C extinguishers also use carbon dioxide to extinguish the fire.

-Class D extinguishers are commonly found in chemical laboratories. They are for fires that involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. The Class D extinguishers also have no numerical rating and are designed only for Class D fires. Class D extinguishers use a chemical compound to extinguish the fire.

Luckily modern technology has helped simplify fire extinguishers and narrowed them down into a couple different types. The first and most common type is a water extinguisher. They are good for Class A fires only and should never be used on any other type of fire. Dry chemical extinguishers are suitable for class A, B and C fires. They are commonly filled with foam or powder and nitrogen. A BC extinguisher is the regular type of dry chemical extinguisher. It is filled with sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. The BC type leaves a corrosive residue and should be cleaned immediately from surfaces to prevent damage. The ABC extinguisher is the multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher. This is the extinguisher that can be used for all common fire types (A,B,C) and is filled with monoammonium phosphate, a yellow powder that leaves a sticky residue that can be damaging to electrical appliances such as a computer. Because of this, Carbon Dioxide extinguishers have an advantage over dry chemical extinguishers since they don't leave a harmful residue and would be a good choice for an electrical fire on a computer or other favorite electronic device such as a stereo or TV.

It would be best to have an ABC extinguisher in each room of the house, and also a CO2 extinguisher for computers or other appliances you don't want possibly ruined. Everyone in the house needs to be trained on how to properly use an extinguisher in the event of a fire. You or someone in your family can save the house and a lot of valuables by being able to put out a fire before it gets out of control. It's also important to test your extinguishers every 3-6 months to ensure they are full and in good working order. And make sure the extinguisher is replaced when it is empty or not working properly anymore. *It would also be a good idea to keep a small extinguisher in your vehicle to combat any interior or engine fires that might break out.