You might think a fire is a fire, so a fire extinguisher is a fire extinguisher, right? Well, it's not exactly how it goes. In fact, there are various types of fires and differing forms of extinguishers - each designed to respond best to the other one. What is the right one for you and your family?
We will answer that soon enough. Let's first take a look at the 5 different types of fire that are posted by the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association:
- Class A: Fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood, paper, cloth, and the like.
- Class B: Fires in flammable liquids, such as gasoline, or flammable gasses, like propane.
- Class C: Fires in energized electrical equipment, such as appliances or motors.
- Class D: Fires in combustible metals.
- Class K: Fires in cooking oils and greases, such as animal and vegetable fats.
How to Choose the Right Type of Fire Extinguisher
There are fire extinguishers that have been specifically designed to put out each class of fire. It is important to utilize the right one. For example, an extinguisher rated for Class B fires only might not be appropriate to use on another fire. In fact, it might even prove hazardous!
So, how do you select the right type of extinguisher? Do you need several? A good choise is a multipurpose fire extinguisher that is generally rated for Class A, B and C fires. This type can be purchased at a home improvement store. This type of extinguisher typically works for general living areas, and is designed to put out small grease fires, as well. Specialized kitchen extinguishers are available, too. (Class K extinguishers are typically for large commercial kitchens.)
No matter which type of extinguisher you choose, you want:
- A fire extinguisher that’s large enough to put out a small fire but not too cumbersme for easy handling.
- A fire extinguisher that has the seal of an independent testing laboratory.
- A fire extinguisher for each floor of your home, as well as one for your garage.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Before you make use of your fire extinguisher — or attempt to put out flames with an alternative method — you'll want to determine if:
- the fire is small and contained
- you are sheilded from toxic smoke?
- you have accesss to an escape route
- common sense tells you it's okay
Once you have established this, the National Fire Protection Association suggests you keep in mind “P.A.S.S.” upon using your fire extinguisher:
- Pull the pin.
- Aim the nozzle or hose at the fire's base.
- Squeeze the lever.
- Sweep the hose from one side to the other. Once you've extinguished the fire, be alert; the fire has the ability to re-ignite.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
Though it may be convenient to simply place your extinguisher in your kitchen cabinet and go on with life, such an attitude puts you at risk of extinguisher malfunction at a time you may need it the most.
The U.S. Fire Administration tells consumers that some fire extinguishers require monthly shaking while others need periodic pressure testing. By following the manufacturer's instructiions for each extinguisher and regularly checking it for damages, rust or dirt, you will ensure an optimally working extinguisher.
The wise home dweller will always keep in mind that there are occasions when use of a fire extinguisher is not the best plan at all. If there's any doubt at all as to you or your family's safety, leave the fire and run out!
Fires can occur and so can resulting damages and losses. For this reason, it’s best to review your NJ Homeowners Insurance Policy for precise coverage with an experienced independent insurance agent – one that has your best interest in mind.
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