The ABCs of Portable Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers that can be moved are called portable fire extinguishers. They range from 2.5 pounds to over 30 pounds. Fire extinguishers can be used to suppress a variety of fires. The extinguishers are classified by fire type. It is important to know the correct classification for your business. Fire Protection Service is a must for every workspace building and home area. This will keep you, your employees, your investment, and your customers safe in the event of a business fire. The same is true for your home fire extinguishers.

There are five different classifications or classes of fire extinguishers.

 Class A

A fire means the fire is burning with regular materials. These would include wood, paper, plastic, and other trash. These are some of the easiest fires to extinguish.

Water-type extinguisher: these portable extinguishers only contain water. This makes them exclusively a Class A fire extinguisher. Great for use near

Class B

A fire means the fire is burning with flammable or combustible liquids. Examples are gasoline or oil. These fires are more difficult to extinguish. You won’t find a Class B only extinguisher. You’ll find an A:B, B:C, or A:B:C.

Halon/Halotron extinguishers: clean agent extinguishers. These are leaving the market because of the potential damage to the environment.

Carbon Dioxide extinguishers: clean agent extinguishers.

Purple K extinguishers: uses potassium bicarbonate. This is the most effective dry chemical to use on a Class B fire. These are also some of the most expensive fire extinguishers.

Stored-pressure dry chemical: These are the multi-purpose extinguishers that will take on regular fires, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment.

Class C

A fire deals with energized electrical equipment. These fires occur when something plugged in catches fire.

See Class B extinguishers: (see above) Are appropriate for a Class C fire. You will not find a Class C extinguisher only.

Class D

A fire is a metal fire. Less likely to occur, but watch out. When metals such as magnesium catch fire using the wrong extinguisher can result in an explosion!

Class D extinguishers: They are larger and have a longer hose. They are usually a different color from other extinguishers. Sometimes you will see a large bucket of extinguishing agent that the user shovels on top of a metal fire. They are only classified for metal fires.

Class K

A fire is the easiest to remember. It is a kitchen fire. These start in a cooking appliance. They are very difficult to extinguish. Like a Class D fire, using the wrong extinguisher can result in an explosion.

Class K extinguishers: These will also extinguish a Class A fire. They are usually labeled A:K.

What should I buy? It all depends on your purpose in purchasing the extinguisher.

For business:

Businesses are required to have 2:A rated fire extinguishers. Most small, light hazard businesses will need a 5-pound ABC fire extinguisher. These will put out regular fires, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. Another term for ABC is multipurpose stored pressure fire extinguisher.

Businesses with a lot of electrical equipment or an electrical room will want a clean agent fire extinguisher. There are different extinguishing agents, such as Halon or carbon dioxide. These types of fire extinguishers deplete the room of oxygen and cool the room to suppress the fire. They will not create a messy residue or watery mess in your delicate electrical room. Businesses with delicate art or antiques may also consider a B:C fire extinguisher.

Does your business have a kitchen? You’ll need a Class K fire extinguisher in addition to your fire suppression system. These fire extinguishers are large and expensive. They are rarely used if you instill safe cooking practices.

Does your business have a pool room? You’ll need a Class A extinguisher. Many ABC extinguishers contain ammonium monophosphate. When ammonia meets an oxidizer (chlorine) it creates a fatal gas. You’ll want your customers to avoid this fate by having a water-type extinguisher.

For home:

Again, you’ll most likely want an ABC extinguisher of the five-pound or ten-pound variety. These will suffice for most of your needs. If your house is large, has many obstacles or floors, you’ll want to consider additional extinguishers.

In your garage you might install a B:C extinguisher because of stored, flammable liquids or electrical equipment. These hazards tend to be higher in garages or workshops.

You might want a small ABCs Portable Fire Extinguisher for your vehicle as well. If there is a small fire you will avoid damage or loss of your entire vehicle by using your extinguisher. It is also handy if you are in the car and notice someone else needs help.

For fun:

Just kidding, fire extinguishers are to be used for their intended purpose only!

Whatever your Portable fire extinguisher needs, you now know the basics. When in doubt, give your locally licensed, fire equipment dealer a call. You can speak with a certified fire extinguisher technician to ask questions or request service.

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