Fire hazards of one nature or the other are present in almost every building or residence. When a fire is small, it can usually be put out using the correct fire extinguisher. Using a fire extinguisher that is not recommended for a type of fire is not only ineffective, but it can also aggravate the fire. Here are the different types of fire extinguishers to be used in different types of fires.
You can easily identify water fire extinguishers because they are solid red, with no band. This type of extinguisher is suitable for fires that burn solids that contain carbon, like wood and wood-based products, fabrics, rubber and plastic items as well as glass; such fires are classified as Class A fires.
A foam fire extinguisher contains a mixture of water, foam concentrate and air. You can identify it by the blue band on its cylinder. It is suitable for fires involving flammable and combustible liquids, which include petrol, diesel, kerosene, oil and wax.These are classified as Class B fires. Foam fire extinguishers can also be used on Class A fires.
Powder fire extinguishers contain dry chemicals in powder form. You can identify them by the white band on their cylinder. Powder (ABE) extinguishers are suitable for extinguishing fires caused by combustible gases such as liquefied petroleum gas, propane, butane and natural gas.These are known as Class C fires. They are also effective for electrical fires, which are known as Class E fires, and also work to extinguish Class A and B fires.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers can be distinguished by the black band on the cylinder. They are usually employed on fires involving electricity, which are Class E fires. A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher can also be used in Class B fires.
Vaporising liquid fire extinguishers can be identified by the yellow band on their cylinder. They work by smothering the fire, and you can use them on fires that involve cooking oils and fats, which are Class Fires. They can also be used on Class A and B fires.
You can differentiate Wet chemical fire extinguishers by the oatmeal coloured band on the cylinders. They are effective for Class F and Class A fires.
Note that your supplier of fire extinguishers will provide a manual and, in some cases, training on how to use the fire extinguishers effectively. This includes storing them in places that are easily accessible and directing the nozzle to the base of the fire.
Fire extinguishers are not designed to fight major fires. Always call the fire department if you are not sure that the fire is extinguished totally and the source identified.