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Residential Fire Extinguishers. Physical Facilities Safety Committee March 1, 2006 Group 6. Questions from the group: What are the types of extinguishers and ratings? How do you use an extinguisher effectively? How long do fire extinguishers last? How many do you need in a home?

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residential fire extinguishers

Residential Fire Extinguishers

Physical Facilities Safety Committee

March 1, 2006

Group 6

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Questions from the group:

What are the types of extinguishers and ratings?

How do you use an extinguisher effectively?

How long do fire extinguishers last?

How many do you need in a home?

Where do you buy one or more?

What do they cost to purchase?

How do you get rid of one?

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Fuel Classifications

Class A: Wood, paper, cloth, trash, plastics—solids that are not metals.

Class B: Flammable liquids—gasoline, oil, grease, acetone. Includes flammable gases.

Class C: Electrical—energized electrical equipment. As long as it’s “plugged in.”

Class D: Metals—potassium, sodium, aluminum, magnesium. Requires Metal-X, foam, and other special extinguishing agents.

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Residential Fire Extinguishers
  • Fuel Classifications

Most fire extinguishers will have a pictograph label telling you which types of fire the extinguisher is designed to fight.

For example, a simple water extinguisher might have a label like this…

…which means it should only be used on Class A fires.

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Types of Fire Extinguishers

Different types of fire extinguishers are designed to fight different classes of fire.

The 3 most common types of fire extinguishers are:

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  • Water (APW)
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Dry Chemical (ABC, BC, DC)
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Types of Fire Extinguishers

1. Water (APW) Fire Extinguishers

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APW’s are designed for Class A fires only:

Wood, paper, cloth.

  • Using water on a flammable liquid fire could cause the fire to spread.
  • Using water on an electrical fire increases the risk of electrocution. If you have no choice but to use an APW on an electrical fire, make sure the electrical equipment is un-plugged or de-energized.
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Types of Fire Extinguishers

2. Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers

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Carbon dioxide is a non-flammable gas that takes away the oxygen element of the fire triangle. Without oxygen, there is no fire.

CO2 is very cold as it comes out of the extinguisher, so it cools the fuel as well.

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Types of Fire Extinguishers

3. Dry Chemical (ABC) Fire Extinguishers

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Dry chemical extinguishers put out fire by coating the fuel with a thin layer of dust. This separates the fuel from the oxygen in the air.

The powder also works to interrupt the chemical reaction of fire. These extinguishers are very effective at putting out fire.

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

It’s easy to remember how to use a fire extinguisher if you remember the acronym PASS:

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  • Pull
  • Aim
  • Squeeze
  • Sweep
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Pull the pin…

This will allow you to discharge the extinguisher

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Aim at the base of the fire…

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Hit the fuel.

If you aim at the flames...

… the extinguishing agent will fly right through and do no good.

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Squeeze the top handle…

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This depresses a button that releases the pressurized extinguishing agent.

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Sweep from side to side…

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.. until the fire is completely out.

Start using the extinguisher from a safe distance away, then slowly move forward.

Once the fire is out, keep an eye on the area in case it re-ignites.

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Rules for Fighting Fires

Do not fight the fire if:

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  • You don’t have adequate or appropriate equipment. If you don’t have the correct type or large enough extinguisher, it is best not to try fighting the fire.
  • You might inhale toxic smoke. When synthetic materials such as the nylon in carpeting or foam padding in a sofa burn, they can produce hydrogen cyanide, acrolein, and ammonia in addition to carbon monoxide. These gases can be fatal in very small amounts.
  • Your instincts tell you not to. If you are uncomfortable with the situation for any reason, just let the fire department do their job.
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Rules for Fighting FiresResidential Fire Extinguishers

The final rule is to always position yourself with an exit or means of escape at your back before you attempt to use an extinguisher to put out a fire.

In case the extinguisher malfunctions, or something unexpected happens, you need to be able to get out quickly. You don’t want to become trapped.

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Two things to consider:

  • How long do they last
    • Length or time to discharge
    • 10 to 18 Seconds
  • How many years do they last
    • This is a quality issue:
      • Plastic head, non-refillable- 6 mo’s to several years
      • Metal head, refillable- 20 to 30 years
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Residential Fire Extinguishers
  • What is the difference in quality
    • Plastic head, non-refillable are designed for price competitiveness; Lowes, Menards, Home Depot, etc.
    • Metal head, refillable are designed to last over time; found in specialty stores who’s business is fire extinguishers and safety
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Residential Fire Extinguishers
  • Where to buy them
    • Menards, Home Depot, Lowes, and most any lumber yard that sells hardware, ACE Hardware, etc.
    • Higher price and quality will come from a specialty store (they will also refill, service and take care of your extinguisher)
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Residential Fire Extinguishers
  • How much do they cost
    • Sizes vary from 2.5 lb., 5 lb., 10 lb. and larger. For home use the 5 lb. is recommended
    • The competitive brands will run $15 to $30
    • The better quality brands will run $40 and up
  • How do you get rid of a fire extinguisher
    • In either case whether it is discharged or not, it is best to take it to a specialty store and let them discharge it and/or salvage parts which are reusable
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Residential Fire Extinguishers
  • How many do you need
    • It is recommended that you have one per floor level of your home and in the garage
    • The suggested locations: Kitchen, Garage, and near the Furnace Room
  • Th..Th..That’s all Folks, have a great day!