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How to Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher

If a fire breaks out in your home or business, your top priority is to keep the property and people inside safe. Using a fire extinguisher is an effective way to prevent small fires from growing larger. The key is to use the right type of extinguisher for the class of fire you’re facing.

Fire Classes

Fires are categorized by what fuel source is burning. For instance:

  • Class A fires involve the burning of ordinary combustibles, such as cloth, paper, wood, and plastic.
  • Class B fires occur when flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, paint, and solvents, ignite.
  • Class C fires involve electrical equipment. If faulty wiring, malfunctioning hardware, or overloaded circuits spark a blaze, it’s considered a Class C fire, no matter what’s burning.
  • Class D fires happen when combustible metals burst into flames. Such blazes are usually reserved for laboratories where magnesium, sodium, and potassium shavings are present.
  • Class K fires are those that break out in the kitchen. They involve hot grease and cooking oil.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

To put out a fire effectively, you must have the right extinguishing agent. Here’s how the most common fire extinguishers are used:

  • Air-pressurized water extinguishers put out Class A fires: Water is a frequently used extinguishing agent for Class A fires. Some types of water extinguishers have detergent added to make the water foam, which douses the flames more quickly. Just remember never to use water on flammable liquids or electrical fires.
  • Carbon dioxide extinguishers put out Class B and C fires: CO2 is a non-flammable gas that puts out fires by displacing the oxygen in the air. It shoots pieces of dry ice from the nozzle, which also has a cooling effect on the flames. However, CO2 is not recommended for Class A fires because ordinary combustibles could continue smoldering and reignite after the dry ice particles dissipate.
  • ABC extinguishers put out Class A, B, and C fires: Multipurpose extinguishers are commonly found in homes and businesses. A single canister can douse the three most common types of fire. ABC extinguishers use dry chemicals to coat the fuel source with fire retardant powder, interrupting the chemical reaction that fires need to burn.
  • Dry and wet chemical extinguishers put out Class K fires: Because of the high temperature at which cooking oil burns, a special class of fire extinguisher is required for commercial kitchens. Dry chemical Class K extinguishers use potassium bicarbonate to smother the flames, while wet chemical versions spray a fine mist of potassium citrate or similar chemicals to create a foamy, soapy layer on top of the cooking fuel.

Being armed with the proper fire extinguisher allows you to battle a small blaze before it grows out of control. Once the fire is out, make sure the recovery process goes smoothly by relying on DKI Services. Contact us today at 877-533-0210 to schedule fire damage restoration in your area.