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A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. However, it is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user. A fire extinguisher has a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent that can be discharged to extinguish a fire. These are very essential part of any fire safety plan. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration legally requires them to be made available in all workplaces, and the National Fire Protection Association recommends that you keep fire extinguishers in your home, too.
There are several classification methods for hand-held fire extinguisher. Every classification is useful in fighting fires with a particular group of fuel.
For example, according to the standard BS EN 3, fire extinguishers in the United Kingdom as all throughout Europe are red RAL 3000. A band or circle of a second color covering between 5 to 10% of the surface area of the extinguisher indicates the contents. The entire body of the fire extinguisher was color coded according to the type of extinguishing agent before 1997.
An electrical fire can fall into any of the remaining five categories.
There are two main types of fire extinguishers:
The expellant is stored in the same chamber as the firefighting agent itself in stored pressure units. Different propellants are used depending on the agent used. With dry chemical extinguishers, nitrogen is typically used. Water and foam extinguishers typically use air. These fire extinguishers are the most common type.
Cartridge-operated extinguishers contain the expellant gas in a separate cartridge which is punctured prior to discharge, exposing the propellant to the extinguishing agent. This type is not as common, used primarily in areas such as industrial facilities, where they receive higher-than-average use. These are advantageous because of simple and prompt recharge. These allows an operator to discharge the extinguisher, recharge it, and return to the fire in a reasonable amount of time. These extinguishers use compressed carbon dioxide instead of nitrogen, although nitrogen cartridges are used on low temperature models. Cartridge operated extinguishers are available in dry chemical and dry powder types. In water, wetting agent, foam, dry chemical (classes ABC and B.C.), and dry powder (class D) types are also available.
Fire extinguishers are further divided into two types:
Handheld extinguishers are easily portable by hand as they weigh from 0.5 to 14 kilograms (1.1 to 30.9 lb).
Cart-mounted or Wheeled extinguishers:
Cart-mounted units usually weigh more than 23 kilograms (51 lb). These wheeled models are commonly found at airport runways, heliports, construction sites as well as docks and marinas.
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