Fire extinguishers are a necessity in any home. Whether your home is an older Victorian, or a Cape Cod, a Craftsman style, or a brand new condominium, it is not well equipped unless you have the proper type fire extinguishers strategically placed.The kitchen, or living room-especially if you have a freestanding or built-in fireplace-the basement, and any other rooms that may have sources of combustion should have a fire extinguisher handy. But any old fire extinguisher just will not do. There are specific types that are required for certain types of fires. The National Fire Prevention Association is the national governing body for fire prevention. Their codes and standards cover fire extinguishers and fire extinguishing systems nationwide. Underwriters laboratories is the national organization that tests and certifies fire extinguishers for use.
- Dry chemical extinguishers containing an extinguishing agent and propelled by a non-flammable, compressed gas are for multi-purpose use.
- Carbon dioxide extinguishers are primarily used on Class B and C fires, i.e. for liquids and electrical fires.
- Water extinguishers are simply water-filled containers under pressure.
- Halon extinguishers are special use fire extinguishers primarily designated for use on proprietary electrical equipment.
There are four different classifications of fire extinguishers. These are distinguished by the types of fires they are designed to put out.
They used to be identified by letter, e.g. A, B, or C. The newer models are identified by pictures corresponding to the type of burning materials.
- Type A fire extinguishers are to be used on ordinary combustibles found in the home such as wood, paper, household garbage, etc.
- Type B fire extinguishers are used on flammable liquids like gasoline, grease, oil, etc
- Type C extinguishers should only be used on fires that are started or fed with electricity like fires in electrical panels or in case of an electrical short in wiring.
- Type D extinguishers are used for flammable metal fires like burning magnesium and are not commonly found in homes.
Choosing the correct extinguisher
- Consider what the most likely source of fire will be in the room where you intend to store the extinguisher.
- If you are concerned about an electrical fire, for example, in a furnace room or garage where there is an electrical panel or equipment, you may want to choose a type C extinguisher.
- In a garage or shop where a grease or oil fire is likely, you may elect to use a type B extinguisher.
- The most common extinguisher for residential use is labeled ABC or has corresponding pictures to indicate that it can be used on all three classifications of fires.
It is critical that you select the proper fire extinguishers for your home and place them in prominent locations.
Instruct all the members of your family or residents in your home on the location and proper operation of every fire extinguisher.
Inspect your fire extinguishers regularly and have them serviced or refilled when the gauge shows they are low.
If your fire extinguishers are not serviceable, replace them with the proper type that are.
Fire safety is your responsibility.
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum