No matter if you’re residential or commercial, in a room with a potential fire hazard or not you need fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers, however, aren’t all created the same – there are many different types of extinguishers, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
To decide which one is right for you, you first need to know the different types of extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are usually classified according to the extinguishing agent, and the types of fire they can most effectively put out. In this article, we’ll help you find out which commercial fire extinguisher type is best for you in 2023. We will also run you through the facets of each.
The most common, most versatile fire extinguisher is known as the ABC extinguisher. The “ABC” is an acronym of jargon that is code for all the types of fire it can put out:
A: Solid combustible materials
B: flammable liquids
C: flammable gasses
This extinguisher sprays powder of monoammonium phosphate directly toward the fire, and is an excellent option for office buildings and homes. The ABC Extinguisher has a maximum range between five and twenty feet depending on the manufacturer, and a discharge duration of 8 to 25 seconds.
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers
Carbon dioxide extinguishers shoot gaseous CO2 toward the fire, thereby depriving of oxygen and its ability to continue burning. CO2 extinguishers are typically used in spaces like the manufacturing sector, where there may be a high concentration of sensitive machinery or otherwise fragile materials around. It’s ideal for fires involving flammable liquids and electrical fires (up to 30 kV).
Kitchen Class K Extinguishers
Class K extinguishers deal primarily with class K flames – flames that erupt in a kitchen setting, often from grease fires that are not extinguishable with water. As any chef can tell you, mistakes can happen in the kitchen, and around high heat accidental spills can quickly turn into sizable fires. Class K fires are an everyday risk of those who work in the cooking sector, and proper kitchen fire preparedness is paramount.
While other extinguishers may be able to temporarily calm a class K fire, a class K extinguisher’s liquid extinguishing agent will better prevent it from reigniting. Class K fire extinguishers are required to be placed within 30 feet of any cooking line – a regulation more strict than the more common ABC extinguisher.
Halon and FE36 fire extinguishers are specialized types of fire extinguishers used to combat specific classes of fires, particularly where conventional agents like water or powder could potentially cause damage to valuable equipment or sensitive environments.
Halon extinguishers contain Halon 1211 or Halon 1301, a gaseous agent that was widely used for its excellent fire suppression properties. It works by interrupting the chemical reaction of a fire, effectively inhibiting the flames without leaving any residue. Halon extinguishers were commonly used in environments with sensitive electronic equipment, such as data centers, laboratories, and aircraft. However, due to the ozone-depleting properties of Halon, production of new Halon extinguishers was stopped under the Montreal Protocol in 1994.
FE36 extinguishers emerged as a viable, environmentally-friendly alternative to Halon extinguishers. FE36 (also known as HFC-236fa) is a clean agent that doesn’t leave a residue and is safe for use in occupied spaces. Like Halon, it suppresses fire primarily by interrupting the chemical reaction of the fire but with an added benefit – it has zero ozone depletion potential. FE36 extinguishers are suitable for use on Class A, B, and C fires, making them effective against fires involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment.
Pressurized Water Extinguishers
Pressurized water extinguishers, often referred to as Class A fire extinguishers, are a common and vital piece of fire safety equipment. They are primarily designed to combat fires involving ordinary combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and many plastics.
The effectiveness of pressurized water extinguishers stems from their mechanism of action. These extinguishers work by releasing a stream of water under high pressure, which helps to cool the burning material and extinguish the fire. The cooling action of the water not only suppresses the flames but also helps to prevent re-ignition once the fire is out.
However, while pressurized water extinguishers are highly effective for Class A fires, they are not suitable for all types of fires. For instance, they should not be used on flammable liquid fires (Class B) or electrical fires (Class C) as water can spread the flammable liquid or cause an electrical shock.
BC Regular Extinguishers
Loaded with potassium or sodium bicarbonate, BC fire extinguishers are built for chemical and non-kitchen oil fires, chiefly types B and C fires. Comparable in operation to other types of fire extinguisher, the BC extinguisher can often be found in mechanical shops, in workshops, and other industrial businesses.
If you need fire extinguishers to equip your building or kitchen, please get in touch with us. We will gladly help you choose the best extinguisher for you or your business, and also perform the appropriate inspections and tests when necessary.