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Fire Safety: Foam Vs. Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

Click for full size image of the fire extinguisher colour codeA fire extinguisher is one of the most important pieces of fire safety equipment you can have in your car, home, or place of work. What is vital to know is that different extinguishers work on different types of fires. 

Unfortunately, all fire extinguishers are red, making it difficult to decipher between the different types. However this does not have to cause you stress - each extinguisher has a colour-coded label. 

There are 6 classes of fire and there are 5 colour-coded labels.  Each class of fire requires different methods of extinguishing. The most common fire extinguisher is labelled red and contains water however this is limited to use on class A fires and has some shortfalls (for example it can create an electrical hazard or spread flammable liquids if used improperly). The next two most popular extinguishers are the blue and cream. Blue labeled fire extinguishers use dry powder to put out fires and cream labeled extinguishers use foam to put out fires. Once you know which types of fires these two put out, you will know which one is perfect for your car, home, or office.

As mentioned, the cream label uses a foam to put out fires. This extinguisher will put out class A and B fires, better known as fires that are caused by paper, wood, textiles, and flammable liquids. These extinguishers are used in various environments from offices to factories to the home.

A foam fire extinguisher can be used in two ways. The first way is to start at one point and spray back and forth across the fire. The second way is to focus on one point and let the foam build up. The first method is great for eliminating a solid based fire, or a fire started by wood, plastic, cloth, and paper. When a fire is based with a liquid such as petrol, oils, paint, or spirits you must use the second method to avoid spreading the fire.

The blue labelled extinguisher contains dry powder. Unlike the foam extinguisher, you may experience some splash back. However, this covers class A, B, and C fires. Those are fires that originate from wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids, and flammable gasses. You can see that this extinguisher extinguishes gasses, unlike the foam extinguisher. This makes it perfect to store in your vehicle.

In fact, the dry powder extinguisher is most often found in vehicles. Cars are as vulnerable to fires as the office or home, so it is important that you include an extinguisher in your car as a fire safety precaution.

Your car’s interior is filled with cloth furnishings so Class A fires are possible. The car operates on fuel so Class C fires are possible as well. Other liquids within your car’s engine or that you may be carrying also make the car susceptible to Class B fires.

When using an extinguisher to put out a car fire, it is important that your car is not running.  Always turn off your car before attempting to put out a fire.

It is always important that you find the right extinguisher for your needs.  Using a store, with experts such as the Fire Safety Store will help you determine the best extinguisher for your needs.

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