The Ins and Outs about Using a Fire Extinguisher

We’ve all seen those TV commercials where the person is trying to put out a fire, but they can’t because their equipment isn’t working. That’s why it’s so important to have your fire extinguisher regularly inspected and serviced by a Fire Damage Professional. We’re going to go through some of the ins and outs about cleaning up after an emergency with a damaged or used fire extinguisher – you know, just in case you ever need to do this for yourself or someone else.

Fire Extinguisher Types 

It is a common misconception that all fire extinguishers are the same. But there are three different types of fire extinguishers: water, foam, and dry chemical. The type of fire you have will determine the best kind to use.

Water Extinguishers:

Water extinguishers are designed to put out class “B” and “C” fires that involve flammable liquids like gasoline, paint, oil, or alcohol. The cool thing about a water fire extinguisher is that it can be used for any type of fire (class A, B, C), but the downside is that since water is a conductive agent, you can’t use it on electrical fires.

Dry Chemical:

Dry chemical extinguishers are most commonly used on class “A” fires, which involve wood, paper, and other combustible materials. Dry chemical fire extinguishers can also be used on Class B (flammable liquids) and Class C (electrical) fires.

Foam Extinguisher:

Foam is another type of extinguisher that works well on Class B and C fires. It’s called a “multipurpose” fire because you can use it for practically any kind of fire with the right nozzle. The foam seeps into cracks and crevices to smother flames. However, this may not be good for a heavily oxygenated fire like a burning metal cabinet.

If you’re not sure whether to use water, dry chemicals or foam extinguishers on your particular kind of fire, call the manufacturer and they can help you figure it out.

What is Suppression Discharge?

A fire extinguisher consists of an outer shell filled with a special chemical that’s designed to stop the spread of fire. Fire needs three things to grow: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Any time you take away one of these components, your chances of putting out the fire increase dramatically. That’s what pressure-type fire extinguishers do – they force out a chemical that works to remove oxygen, heat, and fuel from the fire.

The only thing worse than not having any fire extinguisher when you need it is having one but not knowing how to use it. That’s why everyone should know about suppression discharge. This is what you do if your fire extinguisher doesn’t put out the fire completely and it starts to smoke or smolder. You should also know how about fire extinguisher powder clean up. Suppression discharge is what you do naturally if a situation gets out of control and immediate evacuation is necessary, but it comes with some risks. 

What NOT To Do

Pressure-type extinguishers work by dispersing a chemical agent into the air around the fire that deprives it of fuel and necessary oxygen to continue combustion. After you try to put out the fire with your extinguisher, you should leave the area as soon as possible. Do not attempt to smother a fire or use any type of liquid on top of your fire extinguishers like water, sand, or grease. These actions only increase the chance that it will explode.

What To Do After Suppression Discharge?

If you see significant smoke or fire after using your fire extinguisher, it’s safe to assume that the agent has already been discharged into the air and no longer poses a threat. But to be on the safe side, get out of the area right away. Also, don’t try to re-enter a room where there has been a suppression discharge unless you are sure the fire has already been extinguished.

The next time there’s a house fire, be smart about it, and don’t let the flames consume your life or destroy your property. If you do end up in a situation where you need to fight back against this destructive force, make sure that you have an extinguisher on hand and know exactly how to use it.

How To Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Powder

1. If fire extinguishers were discharged, or if you used a large amount of water to put out your fire, make sure the area is well-ventilated. Opening windows and doors for a few hours can help get rid of any harmful vapors or gases that resulted from the fight against the fire. 

2. It’s also a good idea to air out the room or area where your fire happened. If you can, move all of the furniture back into place and resume normal activities as soon as possible. This will help prevent any lingering smoke, soot, or other contaminants from building up and making a health issue out of what was already an uncomfortable situation.  

3. If your home has an alarm system, make sure it’s back on and that the smoke detectors are working.  

Dangers of Fire Extinguisher Powder

Is fire extinguisher powder harmful to breathe? Fire extinguisher powder can be hazardous too. It has a lot of fine silica dust in it. Just one pound of dry chemical contains the equivalent of 17,800 cubic feet of air (CFA). One cubic foot is enough to fill an ordinary grocery bag. Six pounds can suffocate you in 10 minutes.

The powder floats through the air and settles invisibly on your furniture, your walls, and your clothes. It can cause respiratory problems including lung disease, asthma attacks, and reduced lung capacity.

How To Protect Yourself from Fire Extinguisher Powder

1. Stay out of the room after you use a powder extinguisher for at least an hour. In larger rooms with high ceilings, it might be best to leave even longer because the powder is heavier and will settle highest up.  

2. Wear a mask, gloves, long sleeves, and pants if you can’t stay out of that room for an hour or more after the fire is out.  

3. Use tape to pick up any powder you find so it doesn’t get into your eyes or mouth if you accidentally touch it.  

4. Wash your hands and face well with soap or lotion right away if you suspect that any powder has gotten on them. 

5. Store all extinguishers high, and out of children’s reach when possible. Small children breathe faster than adults and are more susceptible to breathing in fine chemicals.

We hope you find our article on fire extinguisher safety information useful. If you have any, questions regarding your own experience with extinguishers, please feel free to email us. Contact Our Professionals today!