Ensuring a safe and secure environment at work and home should be our number one concern, especially when it comes to safety from fire hazards. A sudden fire can cause unimaginable disaster with millions lost in both life and property. However, the real tragedy is that this can be easily avoided. With a little planning and forethought we can ensure a safe environment for everyone.
One of the crucial requirements is stocking a fire extinguisher. This depends on workspace/home and the nature of flammable material or accelerants in the premises. One of the common extinguisher in most offices and homes is the carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. Let us explore these extinguishers in detail.
But before we understand the extinguisher, let us first understand the nature of fire.
Types of Fire
To a layman every fire looks the same. But to a firefighter, each has its own unique character. This character decides on how the firefighter fights with it, controls and douses it. This depends on the nature of equipment or material in the area under fire because these are the factors that spread the fire. Hence, how we fight the fire depends on the very nature of the fire!
To make this simple, fire is divided into different types or classes. These are:
Class A – Involving solid materials like textileswood, orpaper.
Class B – Involving flammable liquids,like petrol, oilsor diesel.
Class C – Involving gases.
Class D – Involving metals.
Class E – Involvingelectrical apparatus.
As we can see fire is categorized according to the material present. This is important because it determines the firefighting agent. For instance, water is effective in dousing Class A fires that involve wood or paper. However, it would be pretty ineffective for all other classes. For instance, we cannot use water for Class C fires involving gases.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are used to douse Class B fires that involve flammable liquids, like petrol, oils or diesel. Keep in mind that this does not involve cooking oils. Consequently, these are ideally used wherever such flammable liquids are stocked.
Since CO2 extinguishers do not leave any harmful residue, these are also recommended in places that stock electrical equipment or such delicate machinery.
– Petrol pumps
– Garages where petrol or diesel running automobiles are parked.
– Parking spaces
– Oil stations
– Engine compartments of vehicles/automobiles/boats
– Generator rooms
– Flammable liquid storage spaces.
How does a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher work?
Fire does not occur in isolation. For fire to break out, we need fuel and oxygen. Oxygen is the is important for the fire to breathe. Without it no fire can survive. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers work by removing the oxygen. When we use the extinguisher, it releases a blast of carbon dioxide, which displaces the oxygen in the environment.
Do you need a carbon dioxide extinguisher?
The answer lies in the kind of space that you are dealing with. CO2 extinguishers are applicable wherever there are higher chances of a Class B fire breaking out. For instance, if you stock flammable liquid or keep machinery, vehicles that run on such fuels, you must keep a CO2 extinguisher as a precautionary measure. In fact, this is a mandatory requirement for any business establishment that is vulnerable to a Class B fire.
Similarly, CO2 extinguisher is equally effective when dealing with delicate machinery and materials, such as listed above.
How to operate a CO2 fire extinguisher?
A CO2 extinguisher is typically black in color. It will have a handle and horn. Always buy an extinguisher that has clear instructions printed on the cylinder, so that anyone can operate it in an emergency. Usually the handle will have a safety pin. This is twisted and removed so that the handle can be squeezed.
To operate the extinguisher keep a distance of about 2 meters from the fire. Ensure that the cylinder is at an upright position and the horn is pointed to the base of the fire. Now firmly squeeze the handle while moving the horn in a sweeping motion so that the CO2 completely blankets the fire.
If you are using it on electrical equipment, ensure that all power is cut off. Also keep in mind that the CO2 emitted is at a vey cold temperature. Never touch the horn or you may accidentally burn your fingers!
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are designed to douse Class B fire involving flammable liquids. However, it is also the most suitable option when dealing with electric equipment.