Attempting to extinguish a fire with the wrong type of fire extinguisher can result in unforeseeable consequences, including the fire spreading to areas previously unaffected.
Consequently, it’s vital to select the right type of fire extinguisher for the fuel sources most likely to affect a specific area. And to select the right extinguisher type, you need to know which extinguishing agents fire extinguishers contain.
Water (Class A)
Class A fire extinguishers containing water are used on paper, plastic and wood fuel sources. However, as water is conductive, it can’t be used on any other fuel sources because it could worsen the situation.
Foam (Class A, B)
In addition to paper, plastic and wood fires (Class A), foam extinguishers can be used for fires with flammable liquids such as petrol or oil. The foam contained in these fire extinguishers is comprised of water, foam concentrate and air.
Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical (Class A, B, C)
Along with solid and flammable liquid fuel sources (Class A and B), multi-purpose dry chemical extinguishers can also be used on flammable gas fuel sources such as butane, methane and propane. The dry chemical agent is mono ammonium phosphate, which is nonconductive.
Halotron (Class A, B, C)
Halotron is used for fires in the same classes as mono ammonium phosphate, and therefore Class A, B and C. However, unlike mono ammonium phosphate which is corrosive and creates quite a mess to clean up, halotron is a vaporising liquid that leaves no residue. As it requires no cleaning up, it’s mainly used in areas with electronic equipment such as computer rooms.
Regular Dry Chemical (Class B, C)
Sodium bicarbonate is a nonconductive, noncorrosive and nontoxic ingredient that, like halotron, is easy to clean up. It is used in wide range of environments, including kitchens.
Carbon Dioxide (Class B, C)
Fire extinguishers containing carbon dioxide work by depriving the fire of oxygen but they have a limited range in comparison to other fire extinguishers of the same class. The main benefit to using carbon dioxide is that it doesn’t require cleaning up afterwards since it leaves no residue.
Purple K Dry Chemical (Class B, C)
Nonconductive, noncorrosive potassium bicarbonate is the extinguishing agent in this fire extinguisher type used in a broad range of environments. Unlike carbon dioxide used for fires of the same class, it leaves a residue and may require extensive cleaning up.
Wet Chemical fire extinguishers (Class K)
The extinguishing agent is potassium acetate which is discharged as a fine mist before forming a soapy foam. The most common environment for these extinguishers is commercial kitchens as potassium acetate lessens the risk of fire re-flash and effectively suppresses steam and vapours.
In addition to selecting the correct fire extinguisher type for the environment in which it will be used, it’s also essential to have fire extinguishers regularly serviced by an approved technician.
This ensures compliance with OHS and WorkSafe regulations and manufacturers’ specifications, which reduces the risk of liability claims should injuries occur and helps to ensure extinguishers work as they should during emergencies. Please contact SEPMAR for further information.