Last week, we published a blog post that looked at the fire triangle (also known as the combustion triangle). In it, we discussed how fires are ignited and sustained by three ingredients: fuel, heat, and oxygen. This follow-up blog post explains which fire safety equipment can be used to remove each element of the fire triangle, thus putting out the fire. There are many ways to put out a fire, and this article looks at several of them. Understanding as much as possible about firefighting equipment can ensure you deal with a fire effectively and as safely. Misusing the equipment will not only make it less effective, but it can also prove dangerous for the user.
(Note: Although well informed, none of our advice is officially certified and does not serve as a substitute for official fire safety training.)
This is the first thing most people think of when asked to think of fire safety equipment, so it’s fitting to discuss it first. Fire extinguishers come in a variety of different forms. All of them are pressurised containers filled with fire-extinguishing material. They can be filled with water (with water additives), foam, carbon dioxide, or powder.
The water additives can make the water in the fire extinguisher up to 300% more effective than just water alone. As we explained last week, water can help extinguish a fire by cooling down the surrounding fuel so much that it cannot remain ignited. Foam and carbon dioxide extinguishers work by drowning the fire, cutting off its oxygen supply. When working out which fire extinguisher you need for your home or workplace, it’s worth considering which type of fire is most likely to ignite. Next month, we will write a blog post explaining the different kinds of fire. Once you know which kind of fire is mostly likely to start in your home or workplace, then you’ll know what kind of fire extinguisher you should buy.
Do not use a fire extinguisher to prop open a door. Ensure it is properly attached to a wall. And just as with fire alarms, it’s important to have your fire extinguishers checked regularly. You don’t want to discover your fire extinguisher doesn’t work when you need it most.
Another familiar piece of firefighting equipment is the fire bucket. This simplistic piece of equipment is the standard red plastic or metal bucket with fire written on it. Fire buckets are set out in strategic positions to provide people with a large enough container to fill with water or firefighting powder in an emergency. Having a large bucket to hand is very useful in a fire and they are cheap and require no maintenance, so there’s no excuse for not picking up a few if you’re serious about fire safety. The only consideration is how many fire buckets you think you might need and where to place them around your home or workplace. Make sure you don’t place them anywhere where people are likely to trip over them, as during an emergency, this maybe prove to be more of a hindrance than a help.
This is another common piece of firefighting equipment. Fire blankets are made from fire-resistant material (such as wool and fibreglass). Fire blankets help fight fires by reducing the oxygen supply to a fire, cutting off this key part of the fire triangle. Without oxygen, a fire will extinguish immediately. Obviously, a fire blanket will be less useful in the event of a large fire, but they are perfect for smaller fires. The main consideration you will face when buying a fire blanket is size; you’ll have to work out the optimum size of blanket you’ll need to fight a fire in your home or workplace. For commercial kitchens, for example, you’ll need a larger blanket (usually around 1.8m x 1.75m).
The fire curtains, smoke curtains, and fire shutters here at K & D Systems also help fight fires and slow them down, but they’re only part of the solution, and investing in some or all of the fire safety equipment mentioned in this blog post should also be part of your fire safety set-up. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about our fire safety systems.