Every year, fires caused by cooking, arson, electrical faults, and lightning cause fatalities and injuries to humans as well as damage to property. For this reason, city authorities across the US require public facilities and buildings to have firefighting equipment, including fire extinguishers. Class A extinguishers are used to put out fires fueled by ordinary combustible materials such as paper, cloth, wood, fire extinguisher service and the majority of plastics. Extinguishers in this category rely on air pressurized water to put out fires.
Fires caused by flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, paint, solvents, and grease require class B extinguishers. The main ingredients used to suppress fires in this category are non-flammable gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s not advisable to use water to extinguish fire caused by a flammable liquid. A class C extinguisher can be used to put out fires caused by electrical equipment/gear such as faulty circuit breakers, faulty wiring, fuse boxes, energized electrical parts, and faulty power outlets. Since such fires also have high risk of electrocution, water-based extinguishers should not be used.
Class D extinguisher fight fires fueled by flammable metal powders, shavings, and flakes. This description fits chemicals found in many laboratories like potassium, magnesium, titanium, and sodium. To put out fires that involve combustible cooking fluids like fats and oils, use a class K extinguisher. Since some of the chemical agents/compounds used to suppress kitchen fires are electrically conductive, switch off power outlets first. The active agent in this type of fire extinguisher works by interfering with the chemical reactions that allow fires to continue burning. To use a portable fire extinguisher, fire extinguisher aim its nozzle at the source of fire and press the handle to expel compressed agent.
To start with, fire extinguishers can save lives if residential or commercial building occupants spot and extinguish a fire during its early stages. Data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that fires in non-residential buildings caused 70 civilian fatalities in 2013. Another benefit of installing extinguishers is to prevent fire-related injuries. USFA statistics show that the national fire injury rate stands at 56.2 people per one million Americans.
A third benefit is prevention of property damage. NFPA data shows that fires caused non-residential property damage worth $2.6 billion in 2013. Consequently, the NFPA recommends each residential building floor to have one fire extinguisher installed. Moreover, each extinguisher should be installed near a door or emergency exit point. Residential building locations that satisfy this requirement include front and rear doors because they tend to be centrally located and easily accessible.