What’s a Fire Extinguisher and How Does it Work?

By on January 11, 2018

Fire supression inspection

It?s an unfortunate fact that fires will and do take place in restaurants, hotels, schools, and other public spaces all the time. Fire extinguishers are the key to keeping a minor incident just that: minor. They?re also required by law and have to be maintained and serviced properly; meaning that fire extinguisher services can give valuable peace of mind about both safety and legal compliance. Here?s all you need to know about fires, fire extinguishers and their inspectors, and why they?re essential for your business:

  • What?s a Fire? A fire is actually a chemical reaction. Something, such as wood, combines with the oxygen in the air to make water, carbon dioxide, and waste gases. This process produces a tremendous amount of heat, and it usually can?t happen by itself. Something, like a match, has to start the reaction which can then continue by itself. Fire need fuel, oxygen, and heat to survive. If you remove one of these three, the reaction will stop and the fire go out.
  • How Does a Fire Extinguisher Work? There are different kinds of fire extinguishers. Some use water to remove the heat from the fire. Others use dry chemicals in a powder or foam to take the oxygen away so the fire will go out. Some contain carbon dioxide that, when shot out of the extinguisher, expands and cools, denying the fire both oxygen and heat. We need different kinds because the wrong kind of extinguisher can make the problem worse rather than better.
  • How Do I Know What I Need? Extinguishers in American are labelled by color. Green labels indicate the extinguisher should be used for wood, cloth, or paper fires, red for combustible liquids like gas and paint, blue for electrical fires, orange for flammable metals, and black for cooking fires that are non-electric and involving oils and fats. Depending on what type of establishment you have, fire extinguisher services can tell you what fire protection you need, make sure you?re stocked, and conduct regular fire extinguisher inspections for you.
  • I?m Careful: Are Fire Extinguishers Really Necessary? Absolutely. In commercial kitchens alone, there are over 8,000 fires reported every year, and fires in restaurants cause about $246 million in property damage every year. But a recent study of 2,000 fires found that portable fire extinguishers and been successful in putting the fires out in more than 80% of those incidents. In fact, every day someone somewhere in the world is using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire 600 times a day!
  • What Are the Rules? There are a lot of safety codes in place to protect us from fires in public spaces, and this is one of the reasons businesses are well advised to hire fire extinguisher services to help them make sure they are in compliance with all of them. Not only that, but fire extinguisher servicing is necessary to provide service for a fire extinguisher, including inspection and regular recharging. Automatic systems also need to be regularly maintained. Most places, for example, require commercial kitchens to have their automatic extinguishers taken care of only by qualified contractors, and this must be done every six months. Fire extinguisher services can also help a company note other import things, such as that extinguishers can?t be more than 30 feet from cooking areas.

A fire extinguisher is used 15,000 times a year in schools around the world, and they put out about 20 fires a day in hotels. They?re a little item we rarely think about, but having them saves lives, property, and even the environment from the potential of catastrophic fire.

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