How to choose the right portable extinguisher

How to choose the right portable extinguisher

10/13/2016 - SPI

To fight a fire, you need to know the type of fire to which you are confronted. It allows you to select the extinguisher the most appropriate to this type of fire.

To be effective, the product used in the extinguisher must be adapted to the burning material (wood, plastic, paper, metal, etc.) A fire classification has been established to quickly identify the measures that should be adopted depending on the different types of fire.

The different types of fire

There are several fire categories:

Class A fires: ordinary combustibles

  • Caused by the combustion of solid materials such as wood, paper and cloth. It produces embers which creates a slow, flameless combustion or a quick combustion with flames.

Class B fires: flammable liquids

  • Caused by the ignition of liquids or flammable, liquefiable solids such gasoline, alcohol, solvents, plastic… This type of fire burns without producing flames and therefore without smouldering.

Class C fires: electrical equipment

  • Fires from live electrical appliances such as a television, stove, electrical panel, etc.

Class D fires: combustible metals 

  • Fires from metals such as iron fillings, phosphorus, titanium, sodium, etc. are particularly dangerous as they can cause an explosion when coming into contact with water.

Class K fires: combustible cooking

  • Caused by cooking oils or fats in cooking appliances, this is the most common type of fire.

A portable extinguisher for each type of fire

There are various types of portable extinguishers designed to fight different fires. Each of them has its own distinct features, benefits and limitations.
There are three main categories of portable extinguishers:

Water extinguishers (A): water extinguishers are two-thirds filled with water and one-third filled with compressed air. When used on ordinary combustibles, these extinguishers eliminate the heat generated by burning wood, paper or fabric. However, never use this type of extinguisher to fight an electrical fire, or flammable liquid fire or a cooking oil fire. Water is an excellent electricity conductor and may increase the risk of electric shock. For a cooking fire, water is ineffective and helps spread the liquid and flame.

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers (BC): this type of extinguisher contains pressurized CO2. This type of extinguisher is intended to fight oil, fat and gas fires. CO2 cuts off what feeds the fire and eliminates surface reaction by displacing oxygen. The main disadvantage of this type of extinguisher is its limited range and its jet duration of only 10 to 30 seconds. Never use a CO2 extinguisher in a confined space unless workers are wearing appropriate air-supplied respirators as CO2 can reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air. Also, never use this type of extinguisher for Class A fires as it can still continue to burn and light up again once the CO2 has dispersed.

Dry chemical extinguisher (ABC): dry chemical extinguishers are the most common and offered in different models. They are labelled according to the class of fire they can extinguish; therefore an ABC extinguisher is efficient for class A, B and C fires. These extinguishers spray a fine layer of white powder that smothers the flames while isolating the combustible. The residue left by a dry chemical extinguisher is very abrasive, and when mixed with water, can damage engines, computers and electric equipment.

The variety of Ansul portable extinguishers

The RED LINE cartridge-operated portable extinguishers are one of the fire suppression systems approved by safety directors all around the world in high-risk industries such as chemical production, petrochemical, oil and gas, mining, aviation and electricity production. The use of cartridges allows a greater reliability and easier maintenance as well as superior performance.

The Ansul Cleanguard extinguishers are intended for the protection of commercial and industrial facilities with sensitive or irreplaceable equipment, and materials that may be damaged or destroyed by water, foam, dry chemical or carbon dioxide. Offering enhanced performance, the CLEANGUARD extinguishers are electrically non-conductive, environmentally friendly and with a very low toxicity.

CLEANGUARD extinguishers are perfect for computer centers, data storage areas, communication facilities, control rooms, electronics manufacturing, laboratories, museums, art galleries, etc. Evaluated for classes of fire A, B and C, the extinguishing agent does not leave any residue, does not require any cleaning after discharge and will not cause any collateral damage to materials, equipment or facilities.