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Know your fire extinguishers

Posted 2/14/2013   Updated 2/14/2013 Email story   Print story


from Courtesy of the MacDill Fire Department

2/14/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Fires can begin in many different ways, burning many different materials. That's why different types of fire extinguishers are available. An extinguisher made for electrical fires, for example, may have no effect whatsoever on a wood fire. To best protect your home and family, it is not enough to have a fire extinguisher available; it is necessary to have the right kind of extinguisher available. You may well want to keep different types of extinguishers in different parts of the house.

There are five general classes of fire extinguishers. Only the first three apply to typical residential purposes. The classes are:
  • Class A: for ordinary combustibles (paper, wood, cloth)
  • Class B: for flammable liquids (gasoline, grease, oil)
  • Class C: for electrical equipment (appliances, tools)
  • Class D: for combustible metals (most often found in factories)
  • Class K: for cooking combustibles (vegetable and animal oils and fats; most often found in commercial kitchens)
Every fire extinguisher should have the class or classes of fires it is intended to extinguish clearly marked on the container.

Be sure to choose an extinguisher suited for the type of fire you can expect in that particular location. Better yet, look for extinguishers rated for use in more than one type of fire. Kitchen fire extinguishers are often classified as "B-C," while extinguishers intended for living areas and garages are "A-B-C."

In addition to the letters indicating class of fire, fire extinguishers have numbers before the letters. The higher the number, the bigger the size of fire the extinguisher can handle. A 10-B:C extinguisher, for example, can handle a 25-square-foot fire and is ideal for most kitchens and living areas. A larger capacity would be suitable for a garage.

Keep one fire extinguisher on each level of the house. In addition, consider keeping one extinguisher made specifically for use in the kitchen and one for the garage or workshop. Mount fire extinguishers 4-5 ft. above floor level, near an exit or other escape route.

Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure the fire extinguisher is mounted or stored in a clearly visible and easily accessible location. Check the pressure gauge regularly and shake the canister regularly to keep the contents properly mixed and ready for immediate use.

A fire extinguisher is great for dealing with a fire threat you already know about, but it is probably more important that you be alerted as soon as possible to impending dangers not yet discovered. That's where smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors come in handy.

For any question please contact the fire prevention office at 813-828-4236 or 813-828-3630.

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