Fire Extinguishers

With over 20 years experience, we believe safety in the home and in the work place should be at the top of everyone’s list of priorities when purchasing or moving in to a property and indeed should remain at the top of that list being constantly reviewed. At the very top of that list should be Fire Extinguishers and the knowledge of how to use Fire Extinguishers – it goes without saying that Fire Extinguishers are no longer a luxury but a necessity and in a lot of situations a legal requirement. Whilst fire prevention awareness information and education has become predomiant in recent years, it is an unfortunate fact of life that fires do still occur, and even more unfortunate that some of these incidents result in tragic fatalities or at the very least expensive or irrepairable damage to property. Losses which could be avoided through the correct deployment and use of Fire Extinguishers. Remember, Fire Extinguishers save lives – daily!

The Concept Behind Fire Extinguishers

The concept of Fire Extinguishers is nothing new or indeed not even a modern day concept. Ever since Fire was discovered and used by man, Fire Extinguishers existed in some shape or form, from a hanful of sand, a bucket of water, a hand pumped or powered water hose on the back of a horse drawn carriage, they all had one purpose – to act as a Fire Extinguisher and extinguish a Fire safely and quickly. Whilst modern day equipment may be more advanced, more direct, easier to use, more specifc and have billions of euros worth of research and development behind them, they still serve the same purpose as early day crude devices, and that is to extingush a Fire safely and quickly.

Fire Extinguishers Prepare You For Every Possibility

Fire Extinguishers should be deployed everywhere – your business, school, home, boat, car or office, etc., etc.. Indeed in some situations it is a legal requirement for Fire Extingushers to be deployed. Everything from smoke alarms, to fire blankets, to Fire Extinguishers, all have there place in our modern everyday life. Being aware and preparing for every possibility is necessary. Remember fires can and do start anywhere, sometimes in the most unlikely of places, others in places which we do not consider a high fire risk, such as our cars. Remember, being prepared is half the battle.

Fire Extinguishers – Making The Correct Choice

With so many types of Fire Extinguishers available, selecting the correct Fire Extinguisher or Fire Extinguishers for your needs, requirements and possible legal requirements can be a daunting task. It is vital to know what type of Fire Extinguisher you are using. Using the wrong type of Fire Extinguisher for the wrong type of Fire can help a Fire to spread or even in some situations be life-threatening.

Portable extinguishers-General information

Fires are classified in four groups A, B, C, and D

  • Class A fires – are fires involving organic solids like paper, wood, etc
  • Class B fires – are fires involving flammable Liquids.
  • Class C fires – are fires involving flammable Gasses
  • Class D fires – are fires involving Metals

Electrical fires are not included, as they can fall into any of the classifications. However if you use a standard water extinguisher you must isolate the electric supply first as you could be electrocuted. Water based extinguishers such as foam and water mist are safe for use on electrical fires if they have been tested to 35000V (also written 35kV) and a safety distance of 1m is adhered to. In addition it must be remembered that certain electrical apparatus maintain a lethal charge for some time after they have been switched off. What should you do if you discover a fire? You must get everyone out as quickly as possible and call the fire brigade. However you may discover a fire in its very early stages and successfully use a fire extinguisher. The first thing that you should remember, however, is that fire spreads very quickly. Even a small, contained fire can quickly spread, producing smoke and fumes which can kill in seconds. If you are in any doubt do not tackle the fire, no matter how small. You can put yourself at risk by fighting the fire. If in doubt, get out, call the Fire Service out and stay out.

New F Class for fire extinguishers

Class F fires react violently if water is poured onto them, as the water expands rapidly and carries the burning oil into the room. Equally, powder, foam and CO2 carry the risk of spreading the burning oil. The only safe extinguishers for class F fires are wet chemical, ‘dry’ water mist and of course fire blankets.

Colour coding of Extinguishers

The type of extinguisher is identified by a colour coding as indicated below. The old fire extinguishers standard required the whole of the body of the extinguisher to be painted the appropriate colour code. You will find these extinguishers in many premises and these are still legal , you do not need to change them unless the extinguisher is defective and needs to be replaced. New extinguishers are manufactured to the new standard IS EN 3.

  • Water extinguishers are coloured signal red.
  • Other extinguishers will be predominantly signal red with a label, band or circle covering at least 5% of the surface area of the extinguisher in a second colour indicating the contents of the extinguisher.

Fire extinguishers colour-coded green are vapourising liquids (Halons) and have been illegal, with some exceptions like aircraft and the military, since the end of 2003 as the result of the Montreal protocol. They need to be disposed of legally, for more information go to Phasing out Halons in portable fire extinguishers.

The indicating colour always indicates the type of extinguisher medium.

extinguisher colour code

Fire Rating

All extinguishers capable of extinguishing class A, B or F fires carry a Fire Rating which is indicated by a number and letter. (13A, 55B) The number is the size of fire it can extinguish under test conditions, the larger the number, the larger the fire it can extinguish. The letter indicates the fire classification as above. Class C, D and the electrical symbol do not carry a rating.

All extinguishers capable of extinguishing class F fires have a rating based on 4 benchmark tests using 5, 15, 25 and 75 litres of sunflower oil. The oil is heated to auto-ignition and allowed to pre burn for 2 minutes. The fire is then extinguished and no re-ignition shall occur within 10 minutes of extinguishing the fire.

For a fuller explanation, go to IS 291 2002 for a full explanation.