A Fire Extinguisher is commonly referred to an active fire safety gadget, mostly utilized during emergency situations to extinguish or control different numerous types of fires. Usually it is preferred for small & controllable fires such as ones that causes less damage to equipment & does not poses life threatening situation for the user such as no escape options, heavy smoke, explosion etc. In case of uncontrollable fires, only experts such as fire fighter are recommended to operate fire extinguishers. Go through our blog to get necessary tips to avoid fire in your home. In general Fire Extinguishers comprise of a Hand-Held Cylindrical Pressure Vessel which itself contains extinguishing element of numerous forms, discharged firmly on the fire to extinguish it.
History of Fire Extinguishers
In 1723 an England based famous chemist named Ambrose Godfrey introduced the first ever Fire Extinguisher. It comprised of pewter chamber of gunpowder along with average quantity of fire extinguishing liquid. Whole system was attached to a system containing number of fuses which upon usage would ignite, exploding the gunpowder & dispersing the solution on the targeted place. It gained popularity but was brought down due to its lack of efficiency in extinguishing different types of fires.
In early 1800s a British captain named George William Manby introduced the very first modern extinguishers which comprised of a copper vessel containing around 3 gallons of pearl ash firmly kept within compressed air.
In 1866 a French chemist named Francois Carlier introduced the soda-acid fire extinguisher which contained a mixture of water & sodium bicarbonate along with tartaric acid reacting together to form Cos gas for extinguishing purpose. Soda-acid extinguisher was further enhanced in the late 18s by Almon M. Granger which included a mixture of sodium bicarbonate & sulfuric acid. The mixture could efficiently allow pressurized water to escape from the extinguisher & onto the fire.
Aleksandr Loran of Russia was the real brains behind invention of chemical foam extinguishers formally introduced in the early 19s which was mostly based on his previous research & creation “fire fighting foam”. The initial test subject was a pan of burning naphtha which was successful. It looked similar to a soda-acid type extinguisher except for the inner parts.It comprised of 2 tanks. The outer tank contained a mixture of sodium bicarbonate & water while inner tank contained aluminium sulphate solution.
1910 was the year of Pyrene Manufacturing who introduced their own concept of extinguishers containing Carbon Tetrachloride. Concept was generated after the confirmation of liquids capability to extinguish flames by inhabiting the chemical chain reaction of the combustion process. After a year of hard work finally in 1911 they came up with a small portable extinguisher loaded with chemical. It comprised of brass/chrome containers along with a hand pump, which provided the feasibility of expelling liquid on to the fire with pressure. This extinguisher was refillable & was quiet effective.
Company introduced another version of carbon tetrachloride extinguisher shortly after the success of its previous extinguisher formally known as the fire grenade. It contained a glass sphere which was filled with CTC which can be thrown at the base of the fire resulting in immediate extinguishing. It was mostly preferred for liquid & electric fires & served the automotive for quiet sometime. In 1950 this extinguisher was withdrawn due to chemical toxicity. Too much chemical exposure could damage an internal human organ which was proposed at that time. Furthermore, chemical when introduced to fire can be converted into phosgene gas, a deadly chemical used in weapons now a day.
Germany joined the league in 1940s with the invention of liquid chlorobromomethane |(CBM) solely to be used in aircrafts. As far as effectiveness goes CBM was clearly more effective & a little less toxic than CTC. Methyl bromide was very much in demand particularly in Europe in 1920s due to its effective extinguishing capabilities. Although much popular but it was used until the 1960s due to its major toxic problems which can cause deaths within minutes if used in confined places.
The invention of CO2 was not just another scientist experiment in making a better extinguishing agent instead the concept was generated & implemented in response to Bell Telephone’s request. Bell required an extinguishing agent that was electrically non conductive & can easily serve the purpose of extinguishing most non extinguishable fires caused due to malfunction in telephone switchboards. Extinguisher itself comprised of a metal cylinder that was capable of holding around 3.4 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide along with a wheel valve, woven brass, cotton covered hose & last but not the least a funnel similar to a horn serving as a nozzle. CO2 due to its eco friendliness is commonly known as an ozone friendly & clean agent, mostly preferred by television & film industry to extinguish numerous self created fires during shooting. In early days of its invention it was considered to have the cooling ability which extinguishers fir which is why it was misused largly however CO2 extinguishers operate by dispersing the oxygen.
1928 was the year when portable extinguishers were introduced. DuGas a famous chemist invented a cartridge operated fire extinguisher which used sodium bicarbonate as its extinguishing agent. DuGas invented extinguisher comprised of a copper cylinder along with a CO2cartridge present inside the cylinder. User had to open the valve initially which punctures the cartridge which was discharged from the extinguisher upon squeezing the lever. Being a first of its kind having the capability to extinguish large scale & multi dimensional fires it only lasted 2 decades. Its replacement was introduced in the form of a compact dry chemical extinguisher that was marketed not only towards businesses but residential places as well. AB took over the market in 1950s whereas Super-K was introduced in early 60s along with development of Purple-K in late 60s.
Halon 1211 made its mark in the 1970s although it has been used in those countries since earlt 40s & 50s. Simililarly another version of Halon formally known as Halon 1301 was introduced in 1954 which was produced by combine efforts of DuPont & US army. Both extinguishers work by inhabiting the chain reaction of fire. Although it is currently in use since then but still a lot of people prefer using other extinguishers over Halon due to its environmental impacts. However there are various have been made in the construction of fire extinguisher , some of the most modern fire extinguishers made fire extinguishing a lot more convenient.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Water and Foam
Water & Foam Fire Extinguishers are known for extinguishing the fire through elimination of heat element existing within fire triangle. On other hand extinguishers with foam agent are capable of extinguishing the fire through elimination of oxygen.
Water Extinguishers are high recommended for only Class A fires & are strictly advised not to be used on Class B & C Fires. Water extinguishers discharge can allow the flame to spread when used on Class B fires whereas it can also cause shock hazards upon usage on Class C fires.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers have similar capabilities like water extinguishers except they have a different agent. Carbon Dioxide ensures elimination of not only oxygen but also ensure reduction of heat through cold discharge.
Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are usually preferred for Class B & C fires & are ineffective against Class A fires.
Dry Chemical fire extinguishers are well known for their ability to extinguish fire by disturbing the fire chain reaction that causes the fire to spread.
Multipurpose Dry Chemical is one of the effective types of dry chemical extinguisher that works against 3 types of fires A, B & C. In terms of usage upon class A fires it establishes a barrier between oxygen & fuel to ensure elimination of fire.
Ordinary dry chemical extinguishers are usually preferred for only Class B & C fires whereas it is highly recommended by fire experts to use an extinguisher that suites the fuel. Usage of inappropriate agent can result in re ignition of fire.
Wet chemical is a modern agent that holds the capability of extinguishing fire through elimination of heat of fire triangle ultimately resulting in effective extinguishing alongside preventing the fire from re igniting.
Wet chemical generally fall in Class K category of extinguishers that are manufactured especially for modern deep fast fryers utilized in commercial cooking. These are also favorable for class A fires within commercial cooking.
Halogenated or some time also referred as Clean Agent are extinguishers that are electrically non-conductive that includes halogen agents. Clean agents are volatile and do not emit any residual particles on evaporation. Clean agents are highly effective as it prevents fire triangle to get even intense by chemically reacting with it. These are more often used for Class B & C fire. However some of the most effective Clean Agents are also used for Class A, B, and C fires.
Dry powder extinguisher are much similar to dry chemical, dry powder is best used for class A, B and C fires. Dry powder extinguishers are highly capable of extinguishing fire although due to its powdered form it doesn’t provide a good cooling effect. As this extinguishing uses no liquid there are chances of reigniting of fire if not properly cooled. It is highly recommended that the powder should be inhaled while extinguishing with dry powder. Powder form is not recommended to use to in confined or close places as the powder is highly injurious to human health. Many of the countries restricted the use of dry powder as an extinguisher in schools, offices and other close buildings. The dry powder cleanliness is also very difficult and it could cause damage to furniture and crape.
Water mist is the most basic way extinguishing fire. It uses a mist curtain that discharge water from a super fine nozzle that makes it pressure extremely high. It takes away the heat from the heat triangle. This type of fire extinguishing is capable of extinguishing fire much efficiently than powder, foam and wet extinguishers. It allows generating to 22billion water droplets just from 1 liter of water this fact makes it an amazing fire extinguisher.
Cartridge Operated Dry Chemical
It is designed mainly for rugged industrial usage, on the basis of its stored propellant these extinguishers is different from stored pressure extinguishers. These types of extinguishers are widely used in construction and other heavy industries. These uses non-pressurize cylinders to store dry chemical gas that could be effectively used for extinguishing. These are preferred across the globe and are highly recommended for industrial use.
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