EHS & Waste Management

A Guide to Fire Extinguisher Types and Their Uses

By January 12, 2021 No Comments

In this guide we give a brief overview of the commonly available Fire Extinguisher Types and the types of fires they are designed to address.

Water fire extinguishers

Water extinguishers are only suitable for Class A fires consisting of paper, wood, straw, coal, rubber, solid plastics and soft furnishings. They are the simplest, most common, and least expensive type of extinguisher. Some have an additive to make the water more effective and reduce the required size and weight of the extinguisher – these are a little more expensive.

Water extinguishers are the easiest to maintain variety and the least hazardous, since they only contain water. They cool the fire by soaking it and the materials with water. This extinguishes the flames, absorbing heat from burning objects.

They are commonly found in offices, retail premises, schools, hotels, warehouses and domestic premises. They may have spray or jet nozzles and are usually able to put out a fire completely. A drawback is that they cannot be used on burning fat or oil (Class F), burning metals (Class D), burning liquids (Class B) or electrical appliance fires.

Water mist extinguishers

The newest type of extinguisher. These very powerful, but smaller, devices exude an ultra-fine mist of microscopic ‘dry’ demineralised water particles. They are safe and effective to use on Class A, B, C and F fires, making it unnecessary to supply more than one type of extinguisher in most premises. Some are also suitable for use on electrical fires on equipment up to 1,000 Volts, such as computers and printers.

They work by cooling the fire and reducing the oxygen supply. These devices are likely to replace wet chemical extinguishers for the extinction of deep fat fryer fires, and leave no residue or collateral damage. Like water extinguishers, they are recyclable and do not contain any chemicals. However, they cannot be used on Class D fires (metals).

Water mist extinguishers are more expensive than water extinguishers.

Water spray fire extinguishers

Available in different sizes, water spray fire extinguishers are suitable for fires involving organic solid materials such as wood, cloth, paper, plastics or coal. Use on burning fat or oil or on electrical appliances is a big no-no.

Use involves pointing the jet at the base of the flames and moving it constantly and steadily across the fire until extinguished.

A jet nozzle is eschewed in favor of a spray nozzle, which creates a fine spray courtesy of the higher pressure. Hitting a broader surface area this extracts heat more rapidly. Surfactants can be added to help the water penetrate further into burning material.

Foam extinguishers

The foam smothers the fire in solids and liquids (Class A and B), but not in burning fats or cooking oils (Class F). They can be used on some electrical fires if they have been tested and if fired from 1 meter away. Two negatives for Foam Fire Extinguishers is that they leave a residue that has to be cleaned up, and they are more expensive than water extinguishers.

Dry powder extinguishers

These are suitable for fighting burning solids, liquids and gases (Class A, B and C fires). Specialist powder extinguishers are designed to tackle type D fires involving combustible metals such as lithium, magnesium, or aluminum.

They work by the powder forming a crust which smothers the fire and stops it from spreading.

Disadvantages are that the powder does not soak into materials and does not have an effective cooling effect on the fire, which can result in the fire reigniting. The powder is hazardous if inhaled, so they should be used in well-ventilated areas and are not suitable for offices and domestic premises. The powder damages soft furnishings, machinery, etc, and needs a lot of cleaning up after use.

They are generally inexpensive and powerful.

CO2 extinguishers

These contain only pressurized carbon dioxide gas and therefore leave no residue. They are suitable for use on fires involving burning liquids (Class B), and electrical fires, such as of large computer equipment, so are practical in offices. CO2 works by suffocating the fire and does not cause damage to the electrical items or cause the system to short circuit.

However, CO2 extinguishers get very cold during discharge, and those that are not fitted with double-lined, frost-free swivel horns may cause fingers to freeze to the horn during deployment. They can asphyxiate in confined spaces, and they are not suitable for deep fat fryers, as the strong jet from the extinguisher can carry the burning fat out of the fryer. Fires can quickly re-ignite once the CO2 has dissipated into the atmosphere, so they do not offer post-fire security.

CO2 extinguishers are quite expensive.

Wet chemical extinguishers

These are the only extinguishers apart from water mist suitable for Class F fires (fats and cooking oils) and are mainly used in kitchens with fat fryers. They can also be used on Class A and some can be used on Class B fires. They consist of a pressurized solution of alkali salts in water, which, when operated, creates a fine mist, cooling the flames and preventing splashing. Wet Chemical Extinguishers are more expensive than some others types.

Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software

Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software system can be used to manage monthly fire extinguisher inspections, annual inspections and 6 year and 12 year inspections and also general fire safety inspections. Allowing Managers to record safety observations while performing facility tours which can improve overall fire safety. A Fire Extinguisher Inspection Software system that can create corrective actions as a result of inspection failures and allocate these corrective active actions to the appropriate persons, with deadlines for resolution will greatly reduce the time, effort and cost of managing NFPA inspections. Implementing a Fire Extinguisher Barcode System, where users scan each fire extinguisher using a Mobile Fire Extinguisher Inspection Software App aids with compliance with NFPA and The joint Commission and other Authorities having Jurisdiction(ADJ’s)  within Universities, Colleges, Hospitals, Medical Centers, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas and many other sectors.

Easy to Use – Fire Extinguisher Barcode System

IMEC Inspection Software is am easy to use fire extinguisher barcode system which will schedule, manage, track and report on any type of inspection, including Facility, Equipment, People etc. Use Cases include fire extinguisher barcode system, equipment or asset inspection system or facilities inspection software. When used as a fire extinguisher barcode system Inspections are performed via the Mobile app which is available on iOS, Android and Windows devices. The user identifies the inspection point by scanning a barcode, or picking from a list based on location. The Mobile App which is part of the fire extinguisher barcode system will then display the list of custom Forms or Checklists.  The fire extinguisher barcode system inspections can be performed offline if no internet connection is available.

The IMEC Mobile Safety App can also be used as a Fire Door Inspection App and with the Web based flexible Forms Manager the solution can be used as a Fire Door Inspection Software Solution also. Fire Door Inspection Software is used is large facilities with large quantities of Fire Doors like Hospitals, Universities and also Cruise Ships.

 

IMEC Technologies provides Safety Management Software to increase worker safety and aid compliance. IMEC’s Safety Management Software will manage inspections and audits, provides hazard identificationincident reporting, management of corrective and preventative actions from generation to closure. IMEC provides lock out tag out software solutions that will allow users to create lockout tagout procedures using an intuitive Mobile App and Manage Lockout Tagout Procedures, also the Review and Execution of those Lockout Tagout Procedures using the Mobile App. Annual Lockout Tagout Procedures audits are conducted using a Mobile App. The Mobile Inspection App allow users to perform inspections and audits, for example the system can be used as a Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software system to manage monthly fire extinguisher inspections and general fire safety inspections and also to record safety observations and manage corrective actions, anywhere and anytime. The solution can be used as a fire extinguisher barcode inspection software system or life safety inspection system to aid compliance in Higher Education, Healthcare, Industrial and Commercial Organizations. Benefits from a Fire Extinguisher Barcode System include the elimination of paperwork and reducing the burden of compliance with regulations such as NFPA, The Joint Commission. The Mobile App can also be used as a Fire Door Inspection App and with the flexible Forms Manager the solution can be used as a Fire Door Inspection Software Solution also. Fire Door Inspection Software is used is large facilities with large quantities of Fire Doors like Hospitals, Universities and also Cruise Ships. The Incident Reporting App allows users to easily and quickly report incidents, hazards and near-misses, these are then sent to the appropriate people for action and are managed to closure.  Web Apps provide features such as, setup, management, scheduling tools, analysis, reporting and dashboards etc with the ability to report incidents to government bodies such as OSHA and RIDDORHazMat T&T is a hazardous waste management software solution designed for Environmental Service Companies and companies who generate a large quantity of hazardous waste. The solution tracks hazardous waste from cradle to grave aiding compliance, providing accurate waste inventory, increasing waste handling efficiency, reducing risk and also helps manage waste costs. HazMat T&T Hazardous Waste Management Software can be deployed in a number of deployment scenarios, from Large Hazardous Waste Generators, tracking their hazardous waste at their site to Environmental Service and Waste Management Companies using it track and manage hazardous waste at transfer and disposal sites. For more information visit our website www.imectechnologies.com