In the hands of a trained person, portable fire extinguishers are great tools to protect people and property from fire during the early stages. When using an extinguisher or selecting an extinguisher to install, it’s important to know the characteristics of different fire extinguishers. This article will address the different types of fire extinguishers by breaking them down by their extinguishing agent, which is the material inside the extinguisher that gets applied to the fire.
Class A fires involve ordinary combustible materials, such as cloth, wood, paper, rubber, and many plastics. Extinguishers with an A rating are designed to extinguish fires involving these ordinary combustible materials.
Class B fires involve flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, alcohol, oil-based paints, lacquers. Therefore, extinguishers with a B rating are designed to extinguish fires involving flammable and combustible liquids.
Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment. Extinguishers with a C rating are designed for use with fires involving energized electrical equipment.
Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, and sodium. Extinguishers with a D rating are designed to extinguish fires involving combustible metals.
Class K fires involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. Extinguishers with a K rating are designed to extinguish fires involving vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats utilized in commercial cooking appliances.
Learning How to Use Fire Extinguisher
Once you’ve made your purchases, familiarize yourself with the fire extinguisher directions so you’ll be prepared in case you need to put out a fire. Typically, fire extinguishers are fairly easy to use in the case of a fire. Most of the types operate using the P.A.S.S. technique:
- P. Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher in order to break the tamper seal.
- A. Aim the fire extinguisher low, with the nozzle pointed at the base of the fire.
- S. Squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher to release the extinguishing agent.
- S. Sweep the nozzle from side to side while pointed at the base of the fire until it is extinguished.
- If the fire re-ignites, repeat the last 3 steps.
How To Put Out Wood Fire
Wood burning fires typically stem from a fireplace or fire pit and are categorized as Class A fires– or a fire that uses flammable material as its fuel sources. Wood, paper, trash, fabric, and plastics are also common sources of Class A fires.
If a fire originating from your indoor fireplace gets out of hand, here are some dos and don’ts on how to put out a wood-burning fire:
- Do: Use a fireplace poker to spread out the wood and embers.
- Do: Extinguish the flames using the ash from your embers once they cool down.
- Do: Put a layer of banking soda over the ash once the fire is out to eliminate any remaining embers. This adds an additional layer that prevents oxygen from reaching the embers.
- Don’t: Remove the burning logs. Doing so increases the risk of the fire spreading to other parts of your home as you attempt to remove it.
- Don’t: Douse the flames with water in a fireplace or in an enclosed room unless this is a serious emergency and there’s no other option. Using water creates massive amounts of smoke and can cause steam burns. It can also damage your fireplace leading to cracks and heaves due to the sudden change in temperature.
How To Put Out Outdoor Fire Pit
- Extinguish the fire with water. Compared to fireplaces, outdoor fire pits are often in more open spaces which allow for steam or smoke to go away when extinguished.
- Spread the wood and embers to create ash, similar to how you would handle a fireplace fire.
- Put sand over the burning embers. Make sure you spread a thin layer of sand on the embers to prevent them from having access to oxygen. Adding too much sand can cause the embers to remain lit underneath, which poses a fire hazard if they’re uncovered by the wind.
- Use a Class A fire extinguisher if the fire gets out of hand. If the steps above do not take effect and the fire appears to be out of control or in danger of spreading, call 911 for help.
How To Put Out Gas Fire
Fires caused by natural gas, kerosene, propane, or gasoline are categorized as Class B fires. These types of fires are caused by flammable liquids and are best extinguished by smothering.
- Do not use water to put out a gas fire. It will only make the situation worse.
- Use a Class B fire extinguisher instead which is made to put out a gas fire.
- After the fire is controlled, shut off the gas flow on the appliance and notify your utility company.
- Do not turn back on the appliance until the situation has been properly handled.
How To Put Out Electrical Fire
Speaking of appliances, if they’re connected to electrical outlets, it’s possible for them to catch fire. There are specific steps you can take to handle a fire resulting from a home wiring failure, worn-out breaker box, appliance malfunction, or frayed electrical cord.
Here’s how you can put out an electrical fire:
- If possible, unplug the appliance. Doing so will help reduce the risk of the fire spreading while also ensuring the appliance does not pose additional risk to those attempting to put out the electrical fire.
- Use a Type C fire extinguisher that has a ‘C’ on its label.
- If the electrical fire is small, smother the flames with baking soda. This will reduce the oxygen that the fire has access to, potentially putting it out. However, if the electrical fire starts to grow out of control, call 911 for help.
How To Put Out Grease Fire
Cooking fires are the top cause of home fires and injuries. Of these fires, the majority begin with oil becoming too hot, boiling and eventually turning from smoke into flames. These are called grease fire, or Class K fires.
Here’s how to put out a grease fire:
- Cover the fire immediately. You can use a lid or cookie sheet to put out a grease fire. Leave this cover on until the flames are gone and the metal is cool to the touch. This helps prevent oxygen from continuing to fuel the fire.
- Turn off the heat source. Turning off the stove or burners used will prevent the grease or oil from continuing to be heated. While this will help, do not remove the pan from the stove. You may drop the pan or cause burning grease to spread throughout your home, placing yourself at risk of harm.
- Do not pour water on the fire. It can cause the grease to splash and the flames to spread. This is caused by the water vaporizing in the intense heat, causing grease to splash as the water vapor escapes.
- Using a Class K fire extinguisher should be your last resort. A grease fire can be difficult to put out without the proper tools. If you don’t have a class K fire extinguisher, call 911.
How To Put Out Microwave Fire
- Unplug the appliance or turn off the kitchen’s circuit breaker.
- Move everything away from the microwave area
- Use a Class C fire extinguisher.
How To Put Out Stove Fire
- Make sure all burners are turned off. Having a burner on will only help fuel the stove fire, making it harder to put out the flames.
- Move everything away from the stovetop area
- Unplug appliances near the stove. Fewer items near the oven mean that the stove fire has fewer items to potentially spread to.
- Do not use water to douse the flames. Electricity travels through the water quickly and may electrocute you.
- Use a Class C fire extinguisher.
How To Put Out Appliance Fire
There are also the home appliances that aren’t connected to an electrical outlet but can still cause fire, like your oven, stove and microwave. These appliances are often located in the kitchen, where high temperatures place them at an increased risk of catching on fire.
There are some specific steps you should follow if you’re want to know how to put out an appliance fire:
To put out an oven fire:
- Leave the oven door closed. This prevents oxygen from fanning the flames and helps avoid flames from reaching other areas of your kitchen.
- Turn off the oven. This will prevent the fire from spreading to the outlet where it can quickly spread throughout your home.
- Do not put water on the flames. If the oven is plugged in, this will cause electricity to electrocute the person throwing the water on the flames.
- Use a Class C fire extinguisher. This will help smother the oven fire and help put it out.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU CAN’T EXTINGUISH A FIRE?
If a fire becomes uncontrollable, leave your house immediately. Close the door as you leave to try to contain the flames. Once you’re safe, call 911 and do not go back inside your home until you’re told by a professional – like a firefighter – that the area is safe for reentry.
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