Home fire extinguishers: vital safety equipment in the event of a fire
Domestic fires can start for a whole variety of reasons: faulty electrical appliances, a candle left burning, a cooking pan that’s left unattended…
Installing fire extinguishers in your property is an effective – and affordable – way to increase your fire safety at home.
So, let’s start by taking a look at the various fire extinguisher models out there and when they’re designed for use.
Fire extinguisher class
Class A: will put out fires fuelled by standard combustible materials, such as wood
Class B: designed for use on flammable liquids such as oil or grease
Class C: only suitable for electrical fires
Class D: designed for use on flammable metals
Many fire extinguishers serve multiple purposes, so come under several class brackets. For example, you might see extinguisher models labelled as AB, BC or ABC.
If you’re thinking of installing fire extinguishers in your home, it’s important that all the members of the household know where the extinguishers are located, as well as how to use them in the event of a fire.
Make sure the whole household reads and understands the instructions for use, to keep both themselves and the home safe in an emergency.
While fire extinguishers can be effectively used to combat domestic fires, it’s still vital that all members of the household evacuate the property as quickly as they can and then contact the emergency services.
It’s also important to think about detecting, rather than just fighting, fires: installing functional smoke detectors in domestic property is a legal requirement in the UK.
Make sure you choose your home fire extinguishers carefully – we’ll take a closer look at the important points to bear in mind below! Remember that it’s vital that your fire extinguishers can effectively combat electrical fires, as faulty electrical devices are a common source of home fires.
What type of fire extinguisher should you select for your home?
There are 4 types of fire extinguisher, each containing a different agent to help combat flames.
All of these extinguisher models are far more effective than trying to put out a domestic fire just using water.
Powder fire extinguishers
Powder fire extinguishers are most often recommended for use in the home.
When used, these fire extinguishers spray a chemical-based powder that effectively smothers the flames and subdues the source of the fire.
Powder fire extinguishers span fire extinguisher classes A, B and C, so are also commonly known as ABC extinguishers.
As the powder used in these types of fire extinguishers contains chemicals, it may damage some of the surfaces it comes into contact with in the home.
Use of powder fire extinguishers can also decrease visibility in an emergency situation.
Water fire extinguishers
These fire extinguishers contain water enriched with additives that help to fight the source of the fire.
These extinguisher models only comply with classes A and B, so are slightly less versatile than their powder counterparts.
The additives used in water fire extinguishers are often irritants, so extra care must be taken to avoid contact with users’ skin.
Gas fire extinguishers
Gas fire extinguishers reduce the amount of oxygen around a fire, impacting its ability to continue burning.
Cleaner than powder or water fire extinguishers, gas models are a very practical option.
However, the gas emitted by these types of fire extinguishers is extremely cold and can cause frostbite.
Foam fire extinguishers
Foam fire extinguishers are also widely used, but present one major drawback: they can’t be used on electrical appliances, which are a common source of fires in domestic properties.
Using your fire extinguishers
No matter the model you choose (powder, water, gas or foam), there are several simple steps involved in using your extinguishers:
P: Pull out the pin on the extinguisher to break through the tamper-proof protection
A: Aim the extinguisher down low, with its nozzle directed at the base of the fire
S: Squeeze the handle of the extinguisher to release the extinguishing substance
S: Sweep the nozzle side to side, keeping it pointed at the base of the fire
If the fire is not completely put out, repeat the final 3 steps until it is.
Bear in mind that, according to UK guidelines, powder, water and foam fire extinguishers should be replaced every 5 years. Gas fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years.
3 important points to consider when buying your home fire extinguishers
You’ll want to make sure that you – as well as the other members of your household – will be able to use your fire extinguishers in the event of an emergency.
You’ll want your fire extinguishers to be lightweight enough to easily handle, so you can make use of them quickly and effectively.
Look out for the capacity of the fire extinguisher when you’re browsing – it’ll likely be listed in kilograms.
You’ll want to install your fire extinguishers close to areas in your home where a fire is most likely to start, such as the kitchen.
Think carefully about where you’ll position the fire extinguishers around your property. Strategic planning could mean you need to install fewer than you originally thought.
Make sure that your fire extinguishers are stored out of the reach of children, so that they don’t harm themselves, or damage the fire safety equipment itself, while playing.
The price of fire extinguishers will vary depending on the type you choose for your home (powder, water, gas or foam), as well as the capacity you select.
You might also want to consider purchasing a fire blanket as an affordable alternative to an extinguisher.