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PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHER

OBJECTIVE Learning Outcome 6 Operate Portable Fire Extinguisher

Assessment Criteria 6

6.1
6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5

Identify the various types of fire extinguishing agents. State the qualities and effectiveness on the classes of fire Deploy the correct method of application. Asses the compatibility of the different types of fire extinguishing agents. State the correct method of inspecting fire extinguisher.

REFERENCES a. Fundamentals Of Fire Fighter Skills Chapter 7. b. Essentials of Fire Fighting Fourth Edition Edited By Richard Hall and Barbara Adams Chapter 4. c. Firefighters Handbook Basic Essentials of Firefighting Chapter 8.

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PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHER

INTRODUCTION The portable fire extinguisher, one of the most comman fire-protection appliances in use today, is found in fixed facilities and or fire apparatus. A portable fire extinguisher is excellent to use on incipient fires. In many case, a portable fire extinguisher can extinguish a small fire in much less time than it would take to deploy a hoseline. It is important that firefighter be knowledge able about the different types of portable fire extinguishers and their correct use. THE VARIOUS TYPES OF FIRE EXTINGUISHING AGENTS An extinguishing agent is the substance contained in a portable fire extinguisher that put out the fire. Various different chemicals, including water, are used in portable fire extinguishers. The best extinguishing agent for the particular hazard depends on several factors, including the types of materials involved and the anticipated size of the fire. Portable fire extinguishers use seven basic type of extinguishing agents: Water Dry Chemicals Carbon Dioxide Foam Wet Chemicals Halogenated agents Dry Powder

Stored-Pressure Water Extinguishers Stored-pressure water extinguishers, also called air-pressurized water (APW) extinguishers , are useful for all types of small Class A fires and are often use for extinguishers confined hot spots during overhaul operations, as well as for extinguishing chimney flue fires (Figure 6.3). Water is stored in a tank a along with either compressed air or nitrogen. A guage located on the side of the valve assembly shows when the extinguisher is propely pressurized (Figure 6.4). When the operating valve is activated, the water is forced up the siphon tube and out through the base (Figure 6.5). The procedures for operating stored-pressure extinguishers are listed in Skill Sheet 6-2.

Figure 6.3 : A typical stored-pressure water extinguisher.

Figure 6.4 : A pressure gauge clearly shows operable range.

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Figure 6.5 : Cutaway of a stored-pressure water extinguisher. Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) Extinguishers Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) extinguishers are suitable for use on Class A and Class B fires. They are particularly useful in combating fires or suppressing vapors on small liquid fuel spills. AFFF extinguishers are different from stored-pressure water extinguishers in two ways. The AFFF extinguisher tank contains a specified amount of AFFF concentrate mixed with the water, and it has an air aspirating nozzle that aerates the foam solution, producing a better quality foam than a standard extinguisher nozzle provides (Figure 6.6). The water/AFFF solution is expelled by compressed air or nitrogen stored in the tank with the solution. To prevent the disturbance of the foam blanket when applying the foam, it should be applied directly onto the fuel; it should be allowed to either gently rain down onto the fuel surface or deflect off an object (Figure 6.7). When AFFF and water are mixed, the resulting finished foam floats on the sirface of fuels that are lighter tahn water. The vapour seal created by the film of water extinguishes the flame and prevents reiginition (Figure 6.8).

Figure 6.6 : A typical AFFF fire extinguisher.

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Figure 6.8 : The film of AFFF floats ahead of the foam blanket.

Figure 6.7 : Two ways in which AFFF can be applied. Halon Extinguishers Hlaon is generic term for halogenated hydrocarbons and is defined as a chemical compound that contains carbon plus one or more elements from the halogen series (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine). While a large number of halogenated compounds exist, only a few are used to a significant extent as fire extinguishing agents. The two most comman ones are Halon 1211 (bromochlorodifluoromethane) and Halon 1301 (bromotrifluoromethane). Although the halons have long been used for the protection of internal combustion engines, their primary modern-day application is for the protection of sensitive electronic equipment such as computers. Halon 1211 Halon 1211 extinguishers are intended primarily for use on Class B and Class C fires (Figure 6.9). Halon 1211 is stored in the extinguisher as a liquefied compressed gas, but nitrogen is added to the tank to increase discharge pressurevand stream reach. Halon 1211 is discharge from an extinguisher in a clear liquid stream, giving it greater reach than a gaseous agent; however, the stream may be affected by wind when operated outside.

Figure 6.9 : A typical hand-carried halon extinguisher.

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Halon 1301 Halon 1301 is normally not used by itself in portable fire extinguishers because the agent is discharge as a nearly invisible gas that is highly susceptible to being affected by wind. In a confined space, such as a computer room, the agents volatility allows it to disperse faster than Halon 1211. For this reason, and because it is effective at a lower concentration than Halon 1211, Halon 1301 is agent of choice in most total-folding system using halogenated agents (Figure 7.0).

Figure 7.0 : A Halon 1301 tank in a fixed system Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers Carbon dioxide is rated for class B and C fires only. It does not conduct electricity and has two significant advantages over dry chemical agents: it is not corrosive and it does not leave any residues. Carbon dioxide also has several limitations and disadvantages (Figure 7.1). These inculade: Weight Carbon dioxide extinguishers are heaver than similarly rated extinguisher that use other extinguishing agents. Range Carbon dioxide extinguishers have a short discharge range, which requires the operator to be close to the fire, increasing the risk of personal injury. Weather Carbon dioxide does not perform well at temperatures below 0F (- 18C) or in windy or drafty condition, because it dissipates before it reaches the fire. Confined spaces When use in confined areas, carbon dioxide dilutes the oxygen in the air. If enough oxygen is displaced, people in the space can begin to suffocate. Suitability Carbon dioxide extinguishers are not suitable for use on fires involving pressurized fuel or on cooking grease fires.

Figure 7.1 : Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers

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Dry Chemical Extinguishers The terms dry chemical and dry powder are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Dry chemical agents are for use on Class A,B,C fires and/or Class B,C fires. Dry powder agents are for Class D fires only. Dry chemical extinguishers are among the most comman portable fire extinguishers in use today. There are two basic types of dry chemical extinguishers: (1) regular B:C-rated and (2) multipurpose and A:B:C-rated (see Extinguisher Rating System section) (Figure 7.2). Unless specifically noted in this section, the characteristics and operation of both types are exactly the same. The following are commonly used dry chemical. Sodium bicarbonate Potassium bicarbonate Urea-potassium bicarbonate Potassium Chloride Monoammonium phosphate

Figure 7.2 : A handcarried dry chemical fire extinguisher rated for Classes A, B, C fires. QUALITIES AND EFFECTIVENESS ON THE CLASSES OF FIRE

Water Extinguishers Water is an efficient, plentiful, and inexpensive extinguishing agent. When water is applied to a fire, it quickly converts from liquid into steam, absorbing great quantities of heat in the process. As the heat is removed from the combustion process, the fuel cools below its ignition temperature and the fire stops burning. Water is an excellent extinguishing agent for Class A fires. Many Class A fuels will absorb liquid water, which further lowers the temperature of the fuel. This also prevents rekindling. Water is much less effective extinguishing agent for other fire classes. Dry Chemical Extinguishers Dry chemical extinguishers contain a variety of chemical extinguishing agents in granular form. Hand-held dry chemical extinguishers are available with capacities ranging from I to 30 lbs of agent. Wheeled fire extinguishers are available with capacities up to 350 lbs of agent. Ordinary dry chemical models can be used to extinguish Class.B and C fires. Multipurpose dry chemical models are rated for use on Class A, B, and C fires.

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All dry chemical extinguishing agents can be used on Class C fires that involve energized electrical equipment;however, the residue left by the dry chemical can be very damaging to computers, electronic devices, and electrical equipment. Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers Carbon dioxide is rated for Class Band C fires only It does not conduct electricity and has two Significant advantages over dry chemical agents: it is not corrosive and it does not leave any residue.Carbon dioxide also has several limitations and disadvantages. These include: Weight: Carbon dioxide extinguishers are heavier than similarly rated extinguishers that use other extinguishing agents. Range: Carbon dioxide extinguishers have a short discharge range, which requires the operator to be close to the fire, increasing the risk of personal injury. Weather: Carbon dioxide does not perform well at temperatures below OaF (-18C) or in windy or drafty conditions, because it dissipates before it reaches the fire. Confined spaces: When used in confined areas, carbon dioxide dilutes the oxygen in the air. If enough oxygen is displaced, people in the space can begin to suffocate. Suitability: Carbon dioxide extinguishers are not suitable for use on fires involving pressurized fuel or on cooking grease fires. Class B Foam Extinguishers Class B foam extinguishers are very similar in appearance, and operation to water extinguishers. Instead of plain water, they discharge a solution of water and either AFFF or FFFP foam concentrate. The agent is discharged through an aspirating nozzle, which mixes air into the stream. They create a foam blanket that will float over the surface of a flammable liquid. Class B foam agents are also very effective in fighting Class A fires. They are not suitable for Class C fires or for fires involving flammable liquids or gases under pressure. They are not intended for use on cooking oil fires, and only certain foam extinguishers can be used on fires involving polar solvents. Detailed information on the use of AFFF and FFFP is available in NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam. Foam extinguishing agents are noteffective at freezing temperatures. Consult the extinguisher manufacturer for information on using foam agents effectively at low temperatures. Halogenated-Agent Extinguishers Halogenated-agent extinguishersinclude both halon agents and halocarbon agents. Because halon agents can destroy the earths protective ozone layer, their use is strictly controlled. The halocarbons are not subject to the same environmental restrictions. Both types of agents are available in hand-held extinguishers rated for Class Band C fires. Larger capacity models are also rated for use on Class A fires. The agent is discharged as a streaming liquid, which can be directed at the base of a fire. The discharges from these extinguishers have a horizontal stream range of 9' to IS'. The halogenated agents are nonconductive and leave no residue that can damage electrical equipment. These agents are relatively expensive but they perform better than carbon dioxide models in most applications, particularly in windy conditions. Halon 1211 (bromochlorodifluoromethane) is available in hand-held stored-pressure extinguishers with capacities that range from l lb, rated 1-B:C, to 22 lb, rated 4-ASO-B:C Wheeled Halon 1211 models are available with capacities up to 150 lb with a rating of 30A160-B:C The wheeled fire extinguishers use a nitrogen booster charge from an auxiliary cylinder to expel the agent.

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Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers Dry powder fire extinguishersusing sodium chloride based agents are available with 30 lb capacity in either stored-pressure or cylinder!cartridge models. Wheeled models are available with 150 lb and 350 lb capacities. Dry powder extinguishers have adjustable nozzles that allow the operator to vary the flow of the extinguishing agent. When the nozzle is fully opened, the hand-held models have a range of 6' to S'. Extension wand applicators are available to direct the discharge from a more distant position. Basic Steps of Fire Extinguisher Operation Activating a fire extinguisher to apply the extinguishing agent is a single operation in four steps. The P-A-S-S acronym is a helpful way to remember these steps: Pull the safety pin. Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames. Squeeze the trigger to discharge the agent. Sweep the nozzle across the base of the flames. Most fire extinguishers have very simple operation systems. Practice discharging different types of extinguishers in training situations to build confidence in your ability to use them properly and effectively. Follow the steps in ( ~ Skill Drill 7-2 )to operate a carbon dioxide extinguisher: 1. Size up the fire to determine what is burning, if there is energized electrical equipment involved or nearby, and if there are any other hazards present. Select the proper extinguisher. 2. Be sure the rating of the extinguisher matches the size of fire. If the fire is too large for a portable fire extinguisher, back away until other suppression methods are available. If possible, close off the area where the fire is located to limit the spread of smoke and fire. 3. Check the pressure gauge on the extinguisher to ensure that it is properly charged. Remember, carbon dioxide fire extinguishers do not have pressure gauges. 4. Pull the pin on the handle. (Step 1) 5. Remove the horn or nozzle from the secured position on the extinguisher and aim in the direction of your approach. (Step 2) 6. Give the trigger a quick squeeze to ensure that the extinguisher is operational and the agent discharges properly. (Step 3) 7. Approach the fire with an exit to your back. Never let the fire get between you and the exit. Always have a safe exit path in case you have to evacuate. (Step 4) 8. Aim the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire and squeeze the trigger. (Step 5) 9. Sweep the extinguishing agent from side to side, continuing to aim at the base of the flames. Continue to use the extinguisher until the fire is out or the extinguisher is empty. (Step 6)

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10. If the extinguisher empties before the fire is completely suppressed, back away to a safe location and wait for assistance. If possible, close off the area where the fire is loc;ted to limit the spread of the fire until assistance arrives. 11. Back away from the fire. Never turn.your back on the fire. Be prepared in case it re-ignites. 12. Overhaul the fire to ensure that it is completely extinguished. Have additional fire extinguishers or a hose line available in case the fire flares up again. (Step 7) Follow the steps of (~ Skill Drill 7-3)to attack a Class A fire with a stored-pressure watertype fire extinguisher. 1. Begin to attack the fire from a safe distance to take advantage of the reach of the stream. (Step 1) 2. Aim the stream directly at the base of the flames. 3. Sweep the nozzle back and forth, moving closer as the fire goes out. (Step 2) 4. After the flames are out, position your finger in front of the nozzle to create a spray and soak the fuel. (Step 3) 5. If the fire is deep-seated (burning below the surface, as in a tightly packed trash barrel or a brush pile), break the fuel apart with a stick or long-handled tool. Apply the extinguishing agent to any smoldering, smoking, or glowing surfaces. (Step 4) 6. Apply additional water spray to prevent the fire from re-igniting. (Step 5) Follow the steps of ( Skill Drill 7-4 )to attack a Class A fire with a multipurpose dry chemical fire extinguisher. 1. Begin to attack the fire from a safe distance taking advantage of the reach of the dry chemical discharge stream. 2. Aim the stream directly at the base of the flames. 3. Sweep the nozzle back and forth, moving closer as the fire is extinguished. 4. After the flames are out, apply additional agent in short bursts to ensure that all hot surfaces are coated with dry chemical. 5. If the fire is deep-seated (burning below the surface, as in a tightly packed trash barrel or a brush pile), break the fuel apart with a stick or long-handled tool. Apply additional extinguishing agent to any smoldering, smoking, or glowing surfaces. 6. Watch for indications of re-ignition and apply additional agent in short bursts as required. If necessary, use a fine water spray to soak the fuel. Follow 'the steps in ( ~ Skill Drill 7-5)to attack a Class B flammable liquid spill or pool fire with a dry chemical extinguisher. 1. Check the pressure gauge to ensure that it is properly charged (Step 1) and pull the pin on the handle. (Step 2)

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2. Begin fighting the fire from a safe distance, as specified on the extinguisher's label. (Step 3) 3. Do not aim the initial discharge directly into the liquid from close range. The highvelocity stream of extinguishing agent could splash and spread the burning fuel. (Step 4) 4. Discharge the stream at the base of the flame, starting at the near edge of the fire and working toward the back (Step 5) 5. Sweep the nozzle back and forth across the surface of the flammable liquid. (Step 6) 6. After the flames are extinguished, watch for indications of re-igmtion and be prepared to apply additional agent. Look for hot or smoldering objects that could provide a source of re-ignition. (Step 7) Follow the steps in ( ~ Skill Drill 7-6)to attack a Class B flammable liquid spill or pool fire with a stored-pressure fire extinguisher containing AFFF or FFFP extinguishing agent. 1. Begin fighting the fire from a safe distance, as specified on the extinguisher's label. (Step 1) 2. Aim the discharge stream high over the top of the fire. 3. Aiming directly into the liquid could cause the burning fuel to splash and spread the fire. (Step 2) 4. Discharge the stream in an arc over the top of the fire, so that the foam drops gently onto the surface of the burning liquid. Lobthe foam to create a blanket that floats on the surface. (Step 3) 5. Slowly sweep the stream back and forth above the flammable liquid to widen the foam blanket. Use the stream to carefully push the foam blanket toward the back of the liquid surface. 6. If the fire is a spill on the ground, aim the stream at the ground in front of the fire and let the foam bounce onto the front part of the fire. Let the foam blanket flow across the surface of the burning liquid. 7. After the flames are extinguished, continue to apply agent until the surface of the flammable liquid is fully covered by a foam blanket. Look for hot or smoldering objects that could re-ignite the liquid and apply the agent directly on them. (Step 4) 8. Apply additional agent as needed to maintain the foam blanket and control any reignition. (Step 5) Inspection According to NFPA 10, an inspection is a "quick check" to verify that a fire extinguisher is available and ready for immediate use. Fire extinguishers on fire apparatus should be inspected as part of the regular equipment checks mandated by your department. The fire fighter charged with inspecting the extinguishers should: Ensure that tamper seals are intact. Determine fullness by weighing or "hefting" the extinguisher. Examine all parts for signs of physical damage,corrosion, or leakage.

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Check the pressure gauge to be sure it is in the operable range. Ensure that the extinguisher is properly identified by type and rating. Shake dry chemical extinguishers to mix or redistribute the agent. Check the nozzle for damage or obstruction by foreign objects. If an inspection reveals any problems, the extinguisher should be removed from service until the required maintenance procedures are performed. Spare extinguishers should be used until the problem is corrected.

CONCLUSION Fire extinguishers can be used as initial response tools or to fight fires in special situations. Firefighters must know how to use fire extinguishers and to teach the public how to use them. Part of that knowledge includes classifying fires by their fuels, especially ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and gases, and energized electrical equipment. Knowing the classes of fire is the first step toward choosing the right extinguisher and the correct size. The four-step process for using an extinguisher is PASS: pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep.

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