A fire extinguisher is a valuable piece of safety hardware that is most primarily used to extinguish or control small fires in an emergency situation. A fire extinguisher typically consists of a high pressurised cylinder with a hose and trigger attached. The pressurised cylinder itself contains an agent that when discharged it blankets or suffocates the fire by cooling of it’s source of fuel therefore extinguishing the fire.
Using a Fire Extinguisher
There is a certain procedure for using a fire extinguisher, certain work places will have guidelines for executing fire drills, only some staff will be trained to use fire extinguishers these are normally higher members of staff. The procedure for using a fire extinguisher is called “PASS” and it works like this:
- Pull the Safety Pin
- Aim the hose or nozzle towards the base of the fire (remember your targeting the source of the fire not the fire itself keeping at least six feet away)
- Squeeze the trigger
- Sweep the extinguisher from side to side whilst keeping aim of the base of the fire, by doing this you are tackling the fire at its most vulnerable point, take away the fuel and the fire cannot burn. If the fire does not seem to be getting weaker but more volatile and your extinguisher is almost empty, you should not retry with another extinguisher unless it is as small as a bin fire, instead call the local fire brigade as they will have more advanced fire extinguishing equipment.
There are many types of fire extinguishers available on the market, and each fire extinguisher tackles a different type of fire. Using the wrong type of extinguisher can worsen the situation and even prove to be fatal. It is always best to have your fire extinguisher maintained and labeled clearly so that it is easy to determine which extinguisher to use when there is a chemical fire or an electrical fire etc.
Fire Extinguisher Classifications
Internationally there a several classes of handheld fire extinguishers. Each classification is useful in fighting a fire with a certain fuel type whether it be chemical based or electrical based etc.
Fire Extinguisher Standards
According to the standards of BS-EN-3, fire extinguishers throughout Canada and Europe are red RAL 3000, and a band or circle of a second color covering at least 5 percent of the surface area of the extinguisher indicates the type of contents.
- Water fire extinguishers have always been signal red these fire extinguishers are in fire class A.
- Foam fire extinguishers used to be cream but have now been updated with a new colour scheme of red with a cream panel above the operating instructions. These extinguishers are in classes A, B and sometimes E.
- Dry powder fire extinguishers used to be French blue but are now red with a blue panel above the operating instructions. The classification for this type of extinguisher falls in category A, B, C and E.
- CO2 Fire extinguishers used to be black but have updated as red with a black panel above the instructions. These fire extinguishers have been put in fire class categories A,B and E
- Halon Fire extinguishers used to be emerald green but are now red with a green panel above the operating instructions and are in classes A, B and E
- Wet chemical Extinguishers are red with a yellow label above the instructions, the extinguishers are classified as A and F types.
- Class D Powder fire extinguishers were French blue but are now red with a blue panel above the instructions, these are the only fire extinguisher that falls into a D class.