In the fire service there are many types of fire protection and equipment used. Some are simple
to use and require nothing more than common sense like a fire extinguisher, to the more complex
sprinkler systems and the industry specific applications. Fire extinguishers are the most common the
general public knows about and even they have specific uses depending on the fuel type. A fire
extinguisher is a handheld device used to put out fires of limited size and should be thought of as the
first line of defense in some situations.
Some version on a fire extinguisher has been around for hundreds of years. Today they are
broken down into 4 different classes and uses. They can easy be identified by the marking and ratings
printed on the outside. The most common and easiest to read is the pictorial system. they work by
removing one of the four elements of the fire tetrahedron (fuel, heat, oxygen, chemical reaction).
Class A fire extinguishers are used for ordinary combustibles, wood, paper, common plastics,
and textiles. Class B fire extinguishers are used for flammable liquids and gas fires. Most commonly
used on oil, gas, alkanol, and diesel. Class C fire extinguishers are used for fires in live electrical
equipment. Class D is used on burning metals, combustible metals include uranium, lithium,
plutonium, and the most common being magnesium and titanium. Class K are wet chemical
specifically used in kitchen fires. They can also be used on Class A fires in needed. ABC extinguishers
use dry chemical agents that can be used on a combination of different fires. This means they are
acceptable to be used on class A,B,C fires as the name implies.
While not well known or recognizable by the general public, wildland firefighter has their own
version of an extinguisher. called the back pump carried by a member of a hand crew. Back pumps are
generally consisting of a 5-gallon water bladder, brass nozzle and carry straps. They can be limited
because of their water capacity and a fully loaded bladder weights almost 50 pounds. From my training
with the back pump I would not want to be the one who is responsible for carrying it on the fire line.
Using a fire extinguisher can be very simple especially to someone who is not trained in how to
do so. The steps to using a fire extinguisher is simple if you are utilizing the P.A.S.S. Technique, which
stands for pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep.
They are commonly found in easily-assessible locations and in typically high traffic areas.
Often they are fitted to cars, boats, and plains. Many jurisdictions will have different laws for different
applications depending on what the fire threat maybe. With Commercial building and vehicles, they are
required to have operable fire extinguishers always.
All types of fire suppretion equipment and systems need to be inspected regulary and a fire extinguishier is no different.