Selecting the Right Fire Extinguishers

Frequently, somebody who requires a fire extinguisher may purchase an ABC fire extinguisher without giving much thought to the true fire hazards they will need to protect against. While buying fire extinguishers, you have to understand a few things about extinguishers so as to make an educated choice, specifically, the fire class you want to safeguard against and unique conditions you need to consider (computer electronic equipment, by way of example).

Classes of fire extinguishers

When it comes to fire extinguishers, there are five types of fires: A, B, C, D, and K.

Class A - Fire extinguishers rated for Class A fires have a green triangle with an"A" in the center as well as a pictogram of a garbage can and wood burning. These extinguishers are utilized to put fires out for common combustibles such as paper, cloth, rubber, and some plastics (materials which leave ashes when burnt, hence, the"A").
Class B - Fire extinguishers rated for Class B fires have a red square with a"B" at the centre in addition to a pictogram of a gasoline can using a burning puddle. These extinguishers are used to extinguish fires for flammable fluids such as gasoline, lubricating oil, diesel fuel, and many organic solvents found in laboratories (items found in barrels, and hence"B").
Class C - Fire extinguishers rated for Class C fires have a blue ring with a"C" in the center as well as a pictogram of an electrical plug in with a burning outlet. These extinguishers are used to extinguish electrical fires for energized electric equipment, electric motors, circuit boards, switches, and gear ("C" to get current-electrical).
Class D - Fire extinguishers rated for Class D fires have a yellow pentagram (star) using a"D" at the center as well as a pictogram of a burning gear and bearing. These extinguishers are used to extinguish flames from metals and metallic alloys like titanium, sodium, and magnesium.
Class K - Class K fire extinguishers are used specifically for cooking fires from grease, fat, and cooking oil ("K" for kitchen).
You can get fire extinguishers with a single course score or multiple fire course ratings (ABC or BC, by way of example).
Fire extinguishing materials

Fire extinguishers utilize different materials for extinguishing fires. When picking your extinguisher, you need to ascertain what sort of fire you may be fighting and choose the best extinguishing material for your application.

Water: Water, or APW, extinguishers utilize pressurized water to extinguish fires. APW extinguishers can only be used for Class A fires (combustibles such as paper, cloth, etc.); they can't be used for putting out other types of fires.
Dry compound: Dry compounds are utilized to extinguish A-, B-, C-, or even D-type fires. They work by putting a fine layer of chemical dust on the substance that is burning. Dry chemical extinguishers are very effective at putting out fires. But, dry chemical extinguishers may be abrasive and corrosive to electronic equipment and certain other substances.
Carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide operates by removing oxygen in the immediate area of the fire. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are only ever used for B (flammable liquid) and C (electric fires) extinguishers. For computer, scientific and medical equipment, and aircraft electronics, carbon dioxide are a much better choice compared to dry chemical extinguishers since a carbon dioxide extinguisher leaves no residue.
Metal/sand: Some class D fire extinguishers utilize sand or metal, for example sodium chloride (NaCl) or powdered copper metal, to smother fires from metals and metal alloys.
Special applications
Some fire hazards need technical extinguishers. Listed below are a couple examples of those applications.

Steel or sand extinguishers are Utilized to put out class D (metal and metal alloy) fires:

Salt (sodium chloride--NaCl) is the most commonly used material in metal/sand extinguishers. NaCl extinguishers work nicely with fires involving magnesium, sodium, potassium, metals of sodium and potassium, uranium, and powdered aluminum.
Sodium carbonate extinguishers can also be used on fires involving sodium, potassium, and alloys of sodium and potassium. Where pressure corrosion of stainless steel is a consideration, this kind of fire extinguisher would be a much better option than an NaCl extinguisher.
Powdered copper (Cu) metal is used for fires between lithium ion and lithium alloys.
Graphite powder extinguishers are used on lithium fires in addition to fires that involve high-melting-point metals including titanium and zirconium.
Sodium-bicarbonate-based extinguishers are used on fires involving metal alkyls and pyrophoric liquids.
Halotron I is a fresh agent replacement for Halon 1211, which was banned from use due to its ozone depleting properties. Halotron I extinguishers are used for extinguishing fires in computer rooms, clean rooms, and where telecommunications equipment or electronic equipment are present. Halotron leaves no residue and is nonconducting but is significantly more costly than carbon dioxide. It must be mentioned that Halotron I shall no longer be produced after 2015.
FE-36 (CleanGuard) extinguishers are just another clean agent replacement for Halon 1211. FE-36 extinguishers are somewhat less toxic than Halon 1211 and Halotron I and reportedly don't have any ozone-depleting potential. FE-36 can be used for fires in computer rooms, clean rooms, and where telecommunications equipment or electronics are present. Contrary to Halotron I, FE-36 isn't intended for phase-out.

Nonmagnetic fire extinguishers: Wherever strong magnets are in use, for instance, close magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers (NMRSs), nonmagnetic fire extinguishers should be selected. The strong magnetic fields generated by this type of equipment can cause steel pipe fire extinguishers to fly round a room with deadly force.

It is crucial to ensure you have the right fire extinguishers to your environment or potential fire dangers. It can be the difference between if your fire is removed or triggers a catastrophy.
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