No matter what kind of business or home you have, fire extinguishers are your first line of defense when it comes to a fire emergency. We’ve put together this guide to provide everything you need to know with choosing and using fire extinguishers.
Click on each section in red to learn more about protecting your home or office with fire extinguishers.
If you are located in Houston, Texas or the Greater Gulf Coast area and want to make sure your fire extinguishers are in working condition, contact Kauffman Co. today to schedule fire extinguisher services.
Most Common Types of Fire Extinguishers
Do you know what type of fire extinguisher is best for your building? You may already know about the different types of fire extinguishers: ABC, Class D, Class K, etc. What you may not know is that each of these types of extinguishers is filled with a different extinguisher material that allows them to put out the fires.The five most common types of extinguishers include:
There are other less commonly used fire extinguishers, including Halon, clean agent extinguishers, etc., but in this guide we’ll focus on the big five.
Water fire extinguishers are the most commonly used, and most affordable, types of extinguishers available. They are best for extinguishing Class A fires—fires caused by flammable solids such as paper and wood.
Additives can be used to enhance the water in your water fire extinguishers, boosting their fire rating and helping them combat fires better. These additives include things like antifreeze, which can help the extinguishers survive in parks or unheated warehouses and outbuildings.
Foam fire extinguishers offer Class A and Class B (flammable liquid) fire extinguishing capabilities. Foam fire extinguishers are often equipped with spray nozzles to improve fire safety, especially where the foam may accidentally spray on electrical appliances. That said, there are foam (and water) extinguishers that comply with a 35kva dielectric test to certify their safety if accidentally used on electrical fires.
ABC dry powder fire extinguishers can also be safely used on fires involving flammable solids, liquids, and gases as well as those involving electrical equipment. However, you need to be careful with the monoammonium phosphate in the extinguisher, as it can corrode surfaces. It should not be your first choice of extinguishers for sensitive electrical equipment (a carbon dioxide extinguisher will work better here).
CO2 fire extinguishers protect electrical equipment without leaving residue. They can also be used on petrol and oil. Make sure, however, that you never use them on cooking fat fires—the fast discharge has the potential to spread cooking fat around, increasing the area of the fire without putting it out.
Wet chemical fire extinguishers are best for cooking oil or fat fires because they carry the K class rating. These extinguisher types smother and cool flammable cooking fat to eliminate the risk of re-igniting. They are also perfect for class A fires and passed the 35kv electricity conductivity test for added user protection.
Fire Extinguishers from Buckeye
Buckeye Fire Equipment is a leader in manufacturing fire protection equipment and we are a Buckeye Master Distributor and huge fans of their fire extinguisher line. Buckeye is one of the only fire protection equipment manufacturers left that still make products in America.
Their most popular fire extinguishers are the 5- and 10-lb ABC extinguishers, but they have a wide range of units to meet all your needs, including:
A privately owned and operated company with its headquarters near Charlotte, NC, Buckeye Fire Equipment has earned an excellent reputation for quality, reliability and value within the commercial and industrial fire protection industry.
To ensure distributors (like Kauffman Co.!) and customers get the highest quality fire protection equipment, all of their products undergo rigorous testing, both in-house and by third party testing organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories, U.L. Canada, Factory Mutual, ASME and the U.S. Government.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Having a working fire extinguisher is just the first step—knowing how to use it to effectively put out a fire is equally as important. Fortunately, there is an easy way to remember how to use your fire extinguisher – just remember PASS.
The fire extinguisher pin is located at the top of the extinguisher on the side of the lever. Pulling it out will enable you to squeeze the lever and discharge the fire extinguisher’s contents.
When aiming your fire extinguisher, the temptation is to point the nozzle at the flames to calm them down – this is the opposite of what you should do! Aiming the fire extinguisher toward the flames will do little more than blow them around and cause them to spread. Focus on pointing the fire extinguisher nozzle toward the base of the fire – this will cool the fire at its source and cause the flames to die down on their own.
Keep in mind while you are squeezing the fire extinguisher lever that the extinguishant within is being released at extremely high pressure. Be careful to not squeeze too hard, as this will make it difficult to aim.
Make sure you sweep the fire extinguisher from side to side so you hit all the areas of the fire. Take care to stand a safe distance from the fire and take special care to keep the fire from spreading to anything particularly flammable, including drapes, trash cans or clothing. Once the fire has been extinguished, release the lever to stop the flow of extinguishing agent and wait a few minutes to make sure the fire does not start up again.
Be sure you call the fire department even when the fire has died down – you don’t want it to reignite now that your fire extinguisher is empty!
Importance of Fire Extinguisher Training for Your Employees
In addition to understanding the basics of how to use a fire extinguisher, it is important (especially for businesses) to conduct regular Houston fire extinguisher training sessions so that everyone who will be using the fire extinguisher is comfortable with it and will not have to spend time figuring it out during an emergency. Having fully charged, well maintained fire extinguishers won’t help if no one knows how to use them!
As part of our outdoor fire extinguisher training program, a Kauffman Co. representative will come to your workplace with a small controlled fire producing device and a training extinguisher for your employees to practice on.
This exercise will make your employees more comfortable with a fire extinguisher so that they know what to do in the event of a real fire, lowering stress and helping them react to the danger as calmly and effectively as possible.
If you would rather hold your fire extinguisher training indoors (for weather reasons, space issues, or whatever other concerns you have), Kauffman Co. can accommodate that as well. We use a state-of-the-art video simulation fire extinguisher trainer that mimics a real fire. Employees activate the training fire extinguisher the same way they would a real one, and use it to douse a fire on a video screen. This form of training is every bit as effective as the real thing and will help your employees know exactly what they can do in the event of a fire.
Owning a fire extinguisher in your Houston area building is only the first step toward being safe in the event of a fire—you want to ensure that they are up-to-code, in working order, and in capable, confident hands should a fire break out. It is important that you make sure your fire extinguisher is up to code and working properly at all times—and if you live in the Houston area, Kauffman Co. is the name to know. If you are looking for a fire protection services company to inspect, test, repair or refill your fire extinguishers, call us today!
Some images in this guide courtesy of Buckeye Fire Equipment (http://www.buckeyefire.com/).
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