The discovery of fire not only taught humans the way of cooking but also introduced irony in every human life. Fire is a basic necessity for survival, yet it is also the deadliest and unpredictable foe. Since the early 1800's man has looked for ways to protect home and hearth from fire related disasters and injury. It was at this time that the first fire extinguisher was patented, it was more of an explosive device that needed to be triggered by fuse to scatter the flame retarding liquid. The modern and portable ones we use were patented in 1818 to British Captain George William Manby.
A fire has three elements: heat, oxygen and fuel. The heat starts it all bringing any material to the point of igniting; a fuel source supports the burning, while the oxygen sustains the fire for spreading and doing great’s damage.
Since that time fire extinguishers are active safety devices that are required in the home, work place, restaurants mostly all places susceptible to fire. These are a person's first line of defense in containing fire. There are 5 types (classes) of fire extinguishers which are used for a particular type of fires. These are indicated on the cylinder as picture/labeling in the new generation extinguishers or as geometrical and letter designation in older cylinder versions.
Choosing fire extinguishers according to its usage is best determined by the classifications.
These fires are started when easily ignitable materials have reached their igniting temperature. These materials can be cloth, boxes, paper, plastics and trash.
These fires usually involve liquids that are highly flammable and spread easily. These fires are also started by gas, paint, petrol viscous yet highly flammable too. This fire type may also be started with gases that are easily ignited by heat, such as propane and butane.
This type of fire is started within an appliance, electric equipment, appliance motors and transformers. A type 'C' fire can easily be put out by cutting its power source which abruptly changes its type of fire.
A type 'D' fire source is combustible metals such as calcium, lithium, magnesium and its alloys, phosphorus and titanium among the more known chemical elements. These chemicals when heated and oxidation present causes sparks that may turn into fast spreading flames.
This type of fire concerns burning of cooking fats and grease.
The classification of fire is a guide on what kind of fire extinguisher is used in varying situations. There are several fire retardant components used for several types of fire and pose dangerous to other fire types. In the following pages are lists of the different kinds of extinguishers available in the market today.
In determining such, the usage of a particular type of extinguisher is guaranteed to work. This also prevents the misuse and erroneous use of an extinguisher type which would only feed the fire.
How to Use a Fire-Extinguisher
Having to use a fire-extinguisher is simple in and of itself; however, the situation that requires its use can make a simple thing difficult of course. When it come to using a fire-extinguisher just remember the acronym P.A.S.S. to help make sure you use it properly. P.A.S.S. stands for Pull Aim Squeeze Sweep. You certainly learned it at one time or another in school. Once learned it is hard to forget, but, a simple review is always good as with anything learned. To Operate a fire-extinguisher properly:
Pull- The first step is to pull the pin (it usually has the inspection tag attached to it) that prevents the handle from being squeezed.
Aim- The second step is to aim the spray nozzle, or if attached the hose nozzle, at the fire. Aim low at the base of the fire.
Squeeze- The third step is to squeeze the handle to spray the contents. Remember a standard fire-extinguisher has less than 30 seconds of spray time.
Sweep- The final step is to sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.
A fire extinguisher is only to be used for small fires. As a rule call 911 or have someone call before you attempt to put out a fire. Even if you manage to put out a small fire yourself call the fire department to have them come check it out.