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A guide to the different types of fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers save lives. That’s a simple fact. However, not all fire extinguishers are the same, just like not all fires are the same. Knowing the difference could mean life or death. Use a extinguisher meant for wood on an oil fire and you could be left with disastrous consequences. This guide will aim to show you what the different types of fires are and the appropriate extinguishers to use on them. It will also try to explain why.

Water-based fire extinguishers

These types of fire extinguishers are the only ones intended for class A fires. Class A fires are fires fuelled by carbon material such as wood, paper or textile. This is the most common type of fire since almost anything in the home can be potential class A kindling. Don’t use water-based extinguishers on electrical or oil fires.

Foam extinguishers

These are the most common types of fire extinguishers used today. That’s because they can be used on class A fires, like the water-based extinguishers, but can also be used on class B types. Those fires are fuelled by hydrocarbons such as ethanol, oil, paints, solvents and petrol. You can buy this type of fire extinguisher in Tunbridge Wells from a number of different retailers.

CO2 extinguishers

These extinguishers use carbon dioxide gas to smother fires and are good for both class B fires and class C fires. Class C fires are fires caused by burning gas which are horrifically dangerous considering how violently gas burns. No one but a trained fire fighter should tackle these fires, that’s why they are uncommon.

Powder fire extinguisher

These are the most versatile type of fire extinguishers and another type of fire extinguisher found in Tunbridge Wells. They can be used on all fire types, including electric ones, and it’s one of the most effective extinguishers available. However, there are some issues with this type of fire extinguisher. First of all, it can dramatically reduce visibility, which can be extremely dangerous when fighting a fire. It can also cause respiratory problems, particularly if it’s used in refined space, causing suffocation. Finally, this is a very mess form of extinguisher which requires extensive clean up because of its corrosive nature, particularly when it’s exposed to air.

Liquid chemical extinguisher

The final type of fire extinguisher is a liquid chemical extinguisher. They are the only ones designed specifically for fires caused by heavily used deep fat fryers. These can contain a very specific mix of hydrocarbons and other material that a liquid chemical extinguisher is best suited to handling. The best piece of advice is to always have one if you are using a deep fat fryer commercially.

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