The 10 Best Fire Extinguishers
Since the initial publication of this wiki in March of 2015, there have been 28 edits to this page. Every household, office, school and business should have one of these fire extinguishers prominently displayed in kitchens and other potentially dangerous areas. We've included a few models suitable for vehicles, too. Just remember: safety first, and in case of a real emergency, call the fire department ASAP. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best fire extinguisher on Amazon.
Quelling The Savage Flame
Instead of removing heat, the dry chemical extinguisher smothers the fire, cutting off its fuel source from the surrounding oxygen.
Carbon dioxide must be stored under high pressure in order to remain in its liquid form.
Fire is one of the oldest and most dangerous chemical reactions known to man. If left unchecked, it causes rapid devastation of an extremely high magnitude. The potential dangers caused by fire necessitate an integral need to understand its dynamics, to learn about the available resources for containment, and to prevent (or mitigate) a disaster before it occurs or escalates. While professional firefighters undergo extensive training with special equipment to combat fires and other hazards on a large scale, the lay person doesn't always have these things at their disposal. The fire extinguisher serves an important role for ordinary consumers and business owners forced to deal with such eventualities in a domestic or professional capacity.
A fire extinguisher is a handheld, cylindrical-shaped device made from steel and typically red in color. Armed with one of several pressurized agents, the device is designed to put out small blazes that erupt in the home or place of business. The particular agent chosen for the extinguisher depends on the type of environment in which the device is to be used, as well as the class of fire it's designed to extinguish. Each individual agent works in tandem with a particular propellant inside the device to remove at least one element from the combustion triangle that defines the driving forces of a fire's energy.
Although extinguishers are available in several types, three major categories include water, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide. The water extinguisher is the most common type and uses compressed air as its propellant to remove a fire's heat source. A dry chemical extinguisher consists of a tank full of either foam or dry powder with compressed nitrogen for a propellant. Instead of removing heat, the dry chemical extinguisher smothers the fire, cutting off its fuel source from the surrounding oxygen. The carbon dioxide extinguisher contains a mixture of carbon dioxide in both its liquid and gaseous states. Carbon dioxide must be stored under high pressure in order to remain in its liquid form. When that pressure is released by the device, the gas expands and cools significantly, smothering the fire's oxygen and removing the flame's heat source at the same time.
Fire extinguishers are divided into several categories: A, B, C, D, and K, each one representing the corresponding type of fire it is meant to fight. Class A extinguishers handle fires caused by ordinary solid combustables like wood, cloth, and paper. Oil, gasoline, and paint fall into the class B category, while electrical equipment and tools constitute class C. Class D extinguishers handle fires caused by flammable metals, while class K devices are dedicated to quelling flames caused by cooking or vegetable oils.
Avoid Feeling The Burn
Safety for one's self, loved ones, and colleagues is the most important consideration to make when first installing a fire extinguisher in a home or place of business. Proper practical knowledge combined with an understanding of the different classes of device available, and the specific fires they're meant to combat, are all vital ingredients to remaining informed, prepared, and safe from danger. Your life will depend on it. Armed with the knowledge that a class C fire constitutes electrical equipment as the source, for example, one is ill advised to use a water extinguisher to combat at electrical fire. Everyone in the family should also be taught how to operate the device in the event of an emergency. Installing the fire extinguisher in a location that is easy to access and close to an exit is also beneficial, so you don't have to run past any flames to leave the area if the fire gets out of control.
The device chosen should also be equipped with clearly-indicated instructions on its outer canister and an easy-to-read pressure gauge.
The fire extinguisher chosen should be lightweight enough for anyone in the family to grab quickly and easily. A good canister weight is between five and 10 pounds, which provides enough extinguishing agent to take care of most kinds of domestic fires. The device chosen should also be equipped with clearly-indicated instructions on its outer canister and an easy-to-read pressure gauge.
One must consider whether a rechargeable or disposable extinguisher works best around the house. Rechargeable units are typically more durable and expensive than disposable units. They are equipped with metal valves and are relatively easy to refill, which are qualities that come in handy when you need to place several extinguishers around the house and you don't want to have to replace them each time they're used.
A Brief History Of Fire Extinguishers
Although human curiosity for controlling fire has a deep-seeded history that dates back over one million years, the first rudimentary fire extinguisher didn't appear until 1666 during the Middle Ages. A device known as a squirt was used as a simple jet of water applied to the base of a fire. Functioning like a bicycle pump, the device's nozzle was dipped into water and used to suck up the liquid with plunger-like action. The nozzle was then directed toward the base of a fire and used to eject the water.
The nozzle was then directed toward the base of a fire and used to eject the water.
The first automatic fire extinguisher was patented in 1723 by English chemist Ambrose Godfrey. Godfrey's device consisted of a cask filled with an extinguishing agent and a pewter chamber of gunpowder connected to a series of fuses. Igniting the fuses caused the gunpowder to explode, dispersing the extinguishing agent.
The modern portable fire extinguisher was invented by British Captain George William Manby in 1818, which consisted of a copper vessel containing a solution of potassium carbonate and compressed air.
By 1924, the first carbon dioxide extinguisher was invented by the Walter Kidde Company as a response to a previous request for a non-conductive chemical for extinguishing fires coming from telephone switchboards.
Recent developments since the middle of the 20th century have included the expanded use of pressurized extinguishing agents, water mist extinguishers, and aerosol systems.
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