There are a number of different fire extinguisher types which you need to be aware of. The type not only affects how it should be used, it affects how it is serviced too.
Fire extinguishers use different methods to propel the agent towards the fire.
They also use different kinds of agent which are used to extinguish different fire classes.
To make the identification of extinguisher types easier, they are colour coded in accordance with the kind of agent they use and therefore the types of fires they should be used against.
To ensure you use the correct unit for the job and to ensure you service them correctly you need to know a little about the different kinds available.
Types of Fire Extinguisher Unit
There are two main types of extinguisher, stored pressure and cartridge operated.
In stored pressure units, the expellant is stored in the same chamber as the extinguishing agent. Stored pressure extinguishers are the most common type.
Different propellants are used depending on the extinguishing agent. With dry chemical units nitrogen is often used. Water and foam units usually use air.
In cartridge operated units the expellant gas is kept in a separate cartridge.
Cartridge operated extinguishers are not as common as the stored pressure type. They're used primarily in areas such as industrial facilities, where they receive more regular use.
They have the advantage of fast and easy recharging. This allows an operator to use the extinguisher, recharge it and return to the fire with minimal delay.
Types of Fire Extinguisher Agent
Powder - powder based agents extinguish fires by separating the parts of the fire triangle. This process prevents the chemical reaction between heat, fuel and oxygen, thus extinguishing the fire.
Foam - foam based agents are used to extinguish fuel fires by forming a foamy blanket over the fuel, preventing oxygen reaching it. Unlike powder, foam can be used to extinguish fires without risk of flashback.
Water - air pressurized water units cool burning material by absorbing heat from it. Water has the advantage of being cheap, harmless, and fairly easy to clean up.
Fire Extinguisher Portability
As well as all the fire extinguisher types described above, they are further divided into handheld and wheeled extinguishers.
The handheld units are generally more common. However, the wheeled units are most commonly found at construction sites and airport runways as well as docks and marinas.
As you can see there's quite a few different fire extinguisher types and lots to consider when choosing and servicing them.
Author: Trevor Sammuel Evans
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