There are dozens of fire extinguishers available on the market, in a range of different colours, classifications and sizes. Having such a variety of options at your disposal is good: it means there is likely to be a product that perfectly matches your needs. However, this variety also makes it daunting to decide which is best for you. While it’s tempting to make a quick choice, it’s important to ensure you find the perfect fit – after all, having the right fire extinguisher influences the safety of your assets and people, and can even save lives. Here are just some of the most important considerations to help you find the right fire extinguisher:
Large vs small
One of the most important considerations when deciding on which fire extinguisher product is right for you, is size. Generally, the larger the extinguisher is, the more powerful it will be. However, larger fire equipment is much heavier, making it far more difficult to carry and maneuverer. Generally, extinguishers between and 1.0 KG and 3.5 KG require the least training to use, and are suitable for most locations where small fires are likely. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the larger extinguishers, between 25.0 KG and 45.0KG are much more expensive, require more training to use, but are essential in places where extremely large and dangerous fires occur – so be sure to weigh up your needs before making a decision.
Rechargeable vs disposable
Another consideration for deciding on the best fire extinguisher for you, is whether you need a rechargeable or disposable product. Disposable extinguishers have a plastic valve, which renders them useless after the contents has escaped, while rechargeable extinguishers have a metal valve so they can be refilled. While a disposable product is cheaper at the initial purchase stage, it will be more expensive over the long run, because it is more cost-effective to refill a rechargeable product than to buy a new, disposable one each time. Keep in mind that refilling your fire extinguisher can only be done by a trained professional. It’s important to consider the needs of your premises to determine which option is right for you.
Type of extinguisher vs class of fire
Not all fire extinguishers are created equal. What’s inside the metal canister can make a massive impact on how you put out the flames. Here is a breakdown of the types of fire extinguishers you can buy in Australia:
Emitting either a mist or a spray, water fire extinguishers should primarily only be used on Class A fires, which are caused by ordinary combustibles like rubber, wood, paper and textiles. Remember, water can be dangerous if used to put out Class E electrical fires, or Class F fires caused by cooking oils and fats, which is why it’s important consider all dangers present.
By emitting a heavier solution comprised of aqueous film foaming foam (AFFF), foam extinguishers are more advanced and effective than water fire extinguishers. They are suitable for Class A fires caused by combustible materials, as well as Class B fires, which are caused by flammable and/or combustible liquids. However, they can be dangerous if used on Class E electrical fires.
Carbon dioxide CO2 extinguishers work by starving the fire of oxygen, and removing the heat from the blaze. They’re mostly used for Class E electrical fires, which involve electrical equipment like heaters, kitchen appliances and computers. However, these extinguishers have only limited effectiveness on Class A, Class B, and Class C fires ignited by flammable gases, so be sure to consider all possible threats.
Click here for more information on electrical fires.
Dry chemical ABE fire extinguishers work by discharging a powder that absorbs the fuel from the fire source. They’re suitable for a range of fires, including Class A, Class B, Class C and Class E, making them effective in many different situations.
Wet chemical extinguishers work by cutting off the fire’s air supply and stopping the release of flammable vapours. They’re most suitable for extinguishing Class F fires, kitchen fires caused by fats or oils. However, they can also be used for Class A, combustible material fires.