Most business owners understand the importance of having fire extinguishers in place in their workplace but how many actually understand where, when and how to use them?  The team at Hartson Fire explains how fire extinguishers work, the different types of extinguishers available and on what types of fires they should be used.  Our aim is to ensure that you, your staff, visitors and your premises are kept fire safe in case of an emergency fire.

How Fire Extinguishers Work

Fire extinguishers work by removing one or more elements of the fire triangle, which includes fuel, heat, and oxygen. Different types of fire extinguishers use different agents to accomplish this.

Here's a brief overview of how some common types of fire extinguishers work:

  • Water extinguishers: Water extinguishers use water to cool down the fire and remove heat from the fire triangle.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers: CO2 extinguishers use carbon dioxide gas to displace oxygen and suffocate the fire.
  • Dry chemical extinguishers: Dry chemical extinguishers use a dry powder to interrupt the chemical reaction of the fire and smother the flames.
  • Foam extinguishers: Foam extinguishers use a foam agent to cool down the fire and smother the flames.

When using a fire extinguisher, it's important to remember the PASS method:

Pull the pin.

Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle to release the agent.

Sweep the nozzle from side to side to cover the area of the fire.

It's also important to use the right type of fire extinguisher for the type of fire you're dealing with. Using the wrong type of extinguisher can make the fire worse.

Using the Correct Extinguishers for Different Types of Fires

Different types of fires require different types of fire extinguishers. The type of extinguisher needed depends on the fuel source of the fire. There are four classes of fires, and each requires a different type of extinguisher:

  • Class A fires: These fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, and cloth. The appropriate extinguisher for a Class A fire is a water or foam extinguisher.
  • Class B fires: These fires involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and grease. The appropriate extinguisher for a Class B fire is a dry chemical or CO2 extinguisher.
  • Class C fires: These fires involve electrical equipment such as wiring, appliances, and outlets. The appropriate extinguisher for a Class C fire is a dry chemical or CO2 extinguisher.
  • Class D fires: These fires involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, and potassium. The appropriate extinguisher for a Class D fire is a specialized dry powder extinguisher designed for the specific type of metal fuel.

It's important to note that some fire extinguishers are rated for multiple classes of fires. For example, an ABC-rated dry chemical extinguisher can be used on Class A, B, and C fires.

Hartson Fire

It's also important to have the right size and number of fire extinguishers for your workplace, based on the size and layout of the building and the types of hazards present. The fire safety professionals at Hartson Fire can help you to determine the appropriate type and number of fire extinguishers for your specific workplace.

Call us on the number below to book a visit by one of our qualified engineers: