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Fire Safety: Take Inventory

By: Jan Brenner


Most of us can’t do anything immediately to stop the wildfires raging out west, but we can take inventory of our fire prevention safety equipment at home. As the days get shorter and colder, we turn on heaters, cook indoors, light fireplaces and burn candles on a regular basis as well as during power outages. Now is the time to change the batteries in smoke alarms, check your carbon monoxide alarms and take inventory of our fire extinguishers and related safety equipment.


All fires require three components: oxygen, heat and fuel (the Fire Triangle) in order to burn. There are five classes of fire extinguishers (A, B, C, D and K) and each is designed to smother a particular type of fuel, including wood, paper, plastics, flammable liquids, electrical fires, flammable metals and kitchen oil and grease.


For personal use (home, boat, vehicle) multipurpose (ABC) dry chemical fire extinguishers are generally recommended. They can be purchased in small (2-1/2lb) and large (5lb) sizes and in both disposable and refillable containers. Fire extinguishers should be stored in a visible, easily accessible location and secured so that they will not be damaged.


Tagged fire extinguishers have been inspected and ensured for service good for 12 months in accordance with NFPA-10. A safety data sheet in accordance with OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) and NFPA (National Fire Prevention Assoc.) code requirements is available online or upon request for all approved fire extinguishers.


A.B,C dry chemical extinguishers contain a non-toxic powder of monoammonium phosphate and ammonium or barium sulfate with less than five per cent silica, mica and clay. Nitrogen or air (under pressure) acts as the expellant. Although the chemical components are classified as non-toxic they can be irritants, especially to those with respiratory issues. In the event of leakage or active use, ventilate the area thoroughly, wash exposed skin and eyes and drink water. Being exposed to the contents in a fire extinguisher is a minimal health threat when compared to the fumes of a fire.


Speak with representatives from your local fire department and retail fire safety equipment dealers to determine what size and type of extinguisher (s) will best meet your needs. Product and fire safety websites (www.safety.com; www.NFPA.org/education; www.usfa.fema.gov) offer a wealth of information and educational resources for adults, children, schools and businesses.


Once purchased, it’s necessary to learn how your fire extinguishers work. Directions should be printed both graphically and in text on the INSTRUCTIONS label. PASS is the key word to remember to operate the fire extinguisher:


P – Pull the pin

A – Aim at the base of the fire

S – Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly

S – Sweep the nozzle from side to side


Proper maintenance (cleaning off dust, checking pressure gauges) and location/storage of your fire extinguishers can save both lives and property. Place them in a well ventilated area away from heat and sunlight and check your fire department websites for information on equipment and community safety programs. I found helpful information on the 2020 Town of Huntington Recycling Calendar. After some basic research on the computer and speaking with fire safety equipment dealers, I purchased four refillable (two Badger 2-1/2 lb and two Buckeye 5 lb) ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers from a local fire extinguisher company in order to meet our family needs.


Time, attention and investment now can bring you the welcome reward of peace of mind, knowing that you have provided for the safety of those you care about before the stress of winter and the holiday season begin.

What are the Types of Fire Extinguisher Available?

There are 5 main fire extinguisher types – Water, Foam, Dry Powder, CO2 and Wet Chemical.


To ensure you’re adequately protected, and you meet current fire safety regulations, you need to have the right types of fire extinguisher for your business premises.

There are different ‘classes’ of fire, for which each extinguisher is designed to tackle. These classes are based on which fuels a fire starts with. It’s the presence of these fuels within your business premises that will help determine which types of fire extinguisher you need and in which locations.


As well as the right type of fire extinguisher, you’ll also need the right size and weight of each extinguisher.


The Classes of Fire

There are six classes of fire in total.

  • Class A fires – combustible materials: caused by flammable solids, such as wood, paper, and textiles

  • Class B fires – flammable liquids: such as petrol, paint or spirits

  • Class C fires – flammable gases: like propane and butane

  • Class D fires – flammable metals: chemicals such as magnesium, lithium or potassium

  • Electrical fires – electrical equipment: such as computers and photocopiers. Note though that once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes class

  • Class F fires – cooking oils: such as olive oil or butter. Typically a chip-pan fire

The Complete Guide to Fire Extinguisher Types

Feel free to download and print out our quick reference fire extinguisher type chart:

Above chart is taken from the www.businesswatchgroup.co.uk/fire-services/fire-extinguishers/types/ website.

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