How to Buy a Fire Extinguisher for the Home

Household fires can happen at any time, and there are a range of sources that can cause a fire to ignite in your home. While the most common household fires happen in the kitchen, there are plenty of other causes, such as unattended heating appliances, faulty electrical equipment, candles, and even a bra with metal lining left for too long in the clothes dryer. The fact of the matter is that it’s critical that each household is equipped to suppress a small fire with a fire extinguisher before it intensifies and causes a huge amount of damage to property, or even worse. While most people are familiar with fire extinguishers, there are many types available that are suitable only for certain causes of fires.

The following lists all the different classes of fires with examples:

Class A – Carbon based materials, like paper, wood, plastics
Class B – Flammable or combustible liquids, like oil, kerosene, petrol
Class C – Flammable or combustible gases, like propane, butane, methane
Class D – Metal fires, such as magnesium, aluminum, and titanium
Electrical Fires – Fires involving any electrical equipment, such as computers, heaters, toasters
Class F – Cooking or grease fires, caused by overheated vegetable oils and lard

As you can see, common household fires can be caused by all classes of fires list above, with the exception of Class D fires which only really happen in commercial laboratories. This highlights the importance of understanding which fire extinguishers are suitable for certain types of fires. Here’s a look at the different fire extinguishers available and how to differentiate between them.

Fire Extinguisher Colour Class of Fire
Water None, all red A
Foam Blue A, B
Dry Chemical Powder White A, B, E
Carbon Dioxide Black B, E
Vaporising Liquid Yellow A, B, E
Wet Chemical Oatmeal A, F

The best type of fire extinguisher to have in your home is the Dry Chemical Powder ABE fire extinguisher. This is a multipurpose fire extinguisher that contains the majority of household fires and discharges a powdery substance that extinguishers the fire by absorbing the fuel molecules.

The location of your fire extinguisher is also very important. While it may be convenient to store your fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink, it’s not a very accessible place and if a fire starts before you can reach the kitchen, the extinguisher will be useless. It’s recommended that fire extinguishers are located in a convenient and accessible place in your house that is not within an area that is susceptible to a fire igniting. In addition to this, fire experts recommend that one Dry Chemical Powder ABE fire extinguisher is located on every level of the family home.

Another significant point is the size and weight of the fire extinguisher you purchase. As a general rule of thumb, bigger is better, but make sure you don’t buy a fire extinguisher you can’t maneuver easily. There’s also a considerable difference between rechargeable extinguishers (containing metal valves), and disposable extinguishers (containing plastic valves). While disposable extinguishers are cheaper initially, once they have been used they’ll need to be replaced which can make them more expensive than rechargeable extinguishers. Remember, if you don’t use your disposable fire extinguisher after a certain amount of time, it will need to be replaced anyway due to the pressure being depleted.

This leads us onto fire extinguisher maintenance which is a critical aspect to ensuring your fire extinguisher remains in good working condition. The manufacturer’s guideline must be strictly adhered to in terms of testing and maintenance. Typically, fire extinguishers need to be replaced every 10 years; however it’s important that you check the pressure gauge regularly and if you’re unsure, speak to your local fire protection experts.

Understanding all the above information means nothing unless you know how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are relatively easy to operate, however it’s important that only people that know how to use fire extinguishers use them. To use a fire extinguisher, an easy acronym to remember is PASS, which stands for:

● Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher
● Aim the nozzle towards the base of the fire
● Squeeze the handle to discharge the contents
● Sweep the nozzle from side to side whilst aiming at the base of the fire

You can also check out this video which shows you the proper method in using a fire extinguisher. If you find that the fire extinguisher is faulty or isn’t working as intended, shut the door to the room, evacuate everyone from your house and alert the Fire Department by phoning 000.

If you have any further questions regarding fire extinguishers in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts at Fire Protection Solutions on 1300 366 944, or visit their website for additional information:

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