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This information is designed to help you make the right choice when purchasing a fire extinguisher. Please read the information we have provided to determine the right fire extinguisher for your requirement. We are available on 0800 612 4829 should you wish to discuss your requirement in more detail.
Our fire advice is split into the following key sections:
As a general rule, fire is caused by a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and some sort of fuel (wood or petrol for example). Of course, wood and petrol don't spontaneously combust just because they're surrounded by oxygen. For the reaction to happen, you have to heat the fuel to a sufficient temperature, this is known as the ignition temperature.
The sequence of events in a typical wood fire are as follows:
• The actual burning of wood then happens in two separate reactions: When the volatile gases are hot enough (about 260 degrees Celsius for wood), the compound molecules break apart, and the atoms recombine with the oxygen to form water, carbon dioxide and other products. In other words, they burn. A side effect of these chemical reactions is a lot of heat. The fact that the chemical reactions in a fire generate a lot of new heat is what sustains the fire. Many fuels burn in one step. Petrol is a good example. Heat vaporizes petrol and it all burns as a volatile gas. Humans have also learned how to meter out the fuel and control a fire, for example; a candle is a tool for slowly vaporizing and burning wax.
• As they heat up, the rising carbon atoms (as well as atoms of other material) emit light. This effect is called incandescence, and it is the same kind of chemical reaction that creates light in a light bulb. It is what causes the visible flame. Flame colour varies depending on what temperature the fire is burning at. Colour variation within in a flame is caused by uneven temperature. Typically, the hottest part of a flame -- the base -- glows blue, and the cooler parts at the top glow orange or yellow. In addition to emitting light, the rising carbon particles often collect on surrounding surfaces as soot.
In the previous section, we saw that fire is the result of a chemical reaction between two gases, oxygen and a fuel gas. The fuel gas is created by heat. In other words, with heat providing the necessary energy, atoms in one gaseous compound break their bonds with each other and recombine with available oxygen atoms in the air to form new compounds plus lots more heat.
There are only a few compounds that will readily break apart and recombine in this way -- the various atoms must be attracted to one another in the right manner. For example, when you boil water, it takes the gaseous form of steam, but this gas doesn't react with oxygen in the air. There isn't a strong enough attraction between the two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom in a water molecule and the two oxygen atoms in an oxygen molecule, so the water compound doesn't break apart and recombine.
The most flammable compounds contain carbon and hydrogen, which recombine with oxygen relatively easily to form carbon dioxide, water and other gases.
Different fuels ignite at different temperatures. It takes a certain amount of heat energy to change any particular material into a gas, and even more heat energy to trigger the reaction with oxygen. The necessary heat level varies depending on the nature of the molecules that make up the fuel. A fuel's piloted ignition temperature is the heat level required to form a gas that will ignite when exposed to a spark.At the unpiloted ignition temperature, which is much higher, the fuel ignites without a spark.
The fuel's size and surface area also affect how easily it will catch fire. A larger fuel, such as a railway sleeper, can absorb a lot of heat, so it takes a lot more energy to raise any particular piece to the ignition temperature. If you where to reduce the railway sleeper to sawdust it would burn far more easily as it takes much less heat energy due to the fact that a higher ratio of it’s mass is exposed to oxygen.
The heat produced by a fuel depends on how much energy the gases release in the combustion reaction and how quickly the fuel burns. Both factors depend largely on the fuel's composition. Some compounds react with oxygen in such a way that there is a lot of "extra heat energy" left over. Others emit a smaller amount of energy. Similarly, the fuel's reaction with oxygen may happen slowly, or it may happen more quickly.
In this way, fires from different fuels are like different species of animal -- they all behave a little differently. Experts can often figure out how a fire started by observing how it affected the surrounding areas. A fire from a fast-burning fuel that produces a lot of heat will inflict a different sort of damage than a slow-burning, low-heat fire.
Each year nearly 700 people die from fire in their own home. A further 14,000 are injured. The best way to avoid this danger is to prevent fire from starting in the first place. But what should you do if you discover a fire in your home? You must get everyone out as quickly as possible and call the fire brigade.
However if you discover a fire in its very early stages and think that you can deal with it yourself. The first thing that you should remember is that fire spreads very quickly. Even a small, contained fire can quickly spread, producing smoke and fumes, which can kill in seconds. If in doubt do not tackle the fire, no matter how small.
You can put yourself at risk by fighting the fire. If in doubt get out, get the brigade out, stay out.
Before you tackle a fire...
Many people put out small fires in their homes quite safely. Sadly, however, some people die or are injured by tackling a fire which is beyond their capabilities. Here is a simple home fire code to help you decide whether to put out or get out.
If you cannot put out the fire or if the extinguisher becomes empty, get out and get everyone else out of the building immediately, closing all doors behind you as you go. Then telephone the fire brigade.
There are six different types or classes of fire, each of which has extinguishers to tackle the specific types of fire. Newer fire extinguishers use a picture/labelling system to designate which types of fires they are to be used on.
Additionally, the majority of fire extinguishers have a numerical rating which is based on tests conducted by professional fire-fighters that are designed to determine the extinguishing potential for each size and type of extinguisher.
In the instance of class ‘A’ fires, the numerical value is the size of fire in cubic metres that the extinguisher can put out.
For class ‘B’ fires the numerical value represents the amount of litres of flammable liquid that can be extinguished.
Class ‘C’ fires have no numerical value as flammable gas is very difficult to measure in cubic metres - it depends on the ratio of gas to air there is in the local atmosphere.
‘E’ Class fires have no numerical value – please remember once the source of the electricity is shut down, the electrical fire will revert to a different class.
The numerical value in ‘F’ class fires is the same as in ‘B’ class fires – it represents the amount of litres of flammable liquid (cooking oils etc) that can be extinguished.
Class Of Fire
|Water Fire Extinguisher||WATER FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are especially designed for tackling Class A fires (wood, paper, straw, textiles, coal etc.).|
|Foam Fire Extinguisher||FOAM FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are ideally suited where both class A & B fire risks exist. Aqueous Film Forming Foam or AFFF is particularly suited to fight liquid spill fires such as petrol, oil, fats, paints etc. and works by forming a film on the liquid to extinguish the fire. This extinguisher has also passed the electrical conductivity test at 35kv.|
|CO2 Fire Extinguisher||
CARBON DIOXIDE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are suitable for class B risks involving flammable liquids and especially for electrical hazards. These extinguishers have been a natural replacement for Halon. CO2 is harmless to electrical equipment and as such is ideal for modern offices, electronic risks, and fires caused by the combustion of liquids such as: oils, fats, solvents, etc.
|Powder Fire Extinguisher||POWDER FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are especially suited to mixed fire risk environments and a good all round extinguisher. They are also suitable for flammable liquid risk, such as methane, propane, hydrogen, natural gas etc.|
|Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers||WET CHEMICAL FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are especially designed for tackling cooking oil / deep fat fryer (Class F) fires, but also have an effective capability for extinguishing Class A fires (wood, paper, straw, textiles, coal etc.). This extinguisher has also passed the electrical conductivity test at 35kv.|
Fire extinguishers come in 2 varieties – Stored pressure and cartridge operated.
Stored pressure fire extinguishers are fully pressurised cylinders that contain both the extinguishing substance AND propellant (in the form of compressed air or Nitrogen for Water, Powder, AFF Foam and wet chemical extinguishers). Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are only sold in stored pressure canisters as the CO2 itself is stored under pressure (so it is actually a liquid) and therefore the expanding gas propels itself from the extinguisher. As the handle is pressed down, the valve is opened and releases the compressed air, as this happens the extinguishant is carried out of the canister and passed down the hose onto the fire.
Cartridge operated fire extinguishers are not pressurised – they have a small CO2 cartridge that discharges into the cylinder when the extinguisher is activated and effectively turns it into a stored pressure extinguisher.
Where to fix your fire extinguisher
Fix an extinguisher where you can reach it quickly. The best place is on an escape route, that is near an outside door, or on the route from the living areas to an outside door, or adjacent to a specific risk. It should be properly fixed to the wall at a height where it can be reached. Keep it out of the reach of children.
Fire extinguishers should be fixed where they can be easily seen. Fixing them inside cupboards or behind doors will only waste valuable time if a fire breaks out. Do not place them over cookers or heaters or in places of extreme temperatures.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
The manufacturers instructions will tell you what you need to do to keep your extinguisher in good working order. After an extinguisher has been used, even if only partially, it must be recharged according to the manufacturers instructions.
The extinguisher should be serviced annually.
You should always use an accredited company for the supply and maintenance of your fire equipment or you risk your insurance cover being invalid. More information on this topic coming soon!
The amount required is calculated by the size of your premises and the risk involved.
Guidelines when calculating (Please note that these are guidelines and are based on low risk premises):
Please note that fire test ratings on fire extinguishers vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so please do not assume that any 2 fire extinguishers are the same. The fire extinguishers mentioned above are based on the products supplied by ACT Fire & Safety.
Disclaimer: ACT Fire & Safety intends the above mentioned as guidelines and this should not be taken as law. The above mentioned is taken from the relevant British Standards. ACT Fire & Safety will not be held responsible for any misinterpretations or where a company uses the above and does not conform to the standard. ACT Fire & Safety advises that where possible companies are unsure that they seek the advice from the local fire brigade (Fire Officer).
The most common combination and safest cover is 1 x 9L Water or 9L Foam and 1 x 2Kg Co2. The water or foam covers all Flammable solids like paper, carpet, curtains etc and the Co2 covers all electrical risk such as computers etc
The most common are Powder and Foam extinguishers coupled with Co2 for electrical risk. The Powder covers all risks and especially fires which react with water or foam, Foam is ideal for flammable liquid fires. Please note that this is for general circumstances, it may vary depending on what machinery is used and what is being stored.
This will depend mainly on the methods of cooking, but the most common are Co2 for electrical fires, Dry Powder for Flammable Gas (Gas Ovens) and Wet Chemical for Deep Fat Fires. There should also be a fire blanket installed.
A 1Kg powder or 2 Kg powder should be sufficient to cover all normal risks and this should be supplemented with a fire blanket. This should always be situated in the kitchen
A 1kg or 2 Kg powder extinguisher should always be situated near the front seats. Commercial vehicles need at least 2kg powder (or suitable equivalent).
The extinguishers should be mounted on the wall (our fire extinguishers come with a ready to mount bracket) or on a stand with the handle approximately 1m from the ground; they should have the corresponding Identification Sign mounted above. The fire extinguishers should always be situated in a conspicuous position where they can readily be seen by persons following the escape routes. They should be located near room exits, in corridors, on stairway lobbies and landings on each floor.
If you are unsure or require further advise please feel free to contact us on 0800 612 4829 and one of our qualified engineers will be able to offer you advice.
You may want to try these major websites for more info on fire and Safety:
www.ifeda.co.uk - The Independent Fire Engineering And Distribution Agent.
www.BAFE.co.uk - British Approved Fire Equipment.
www.thefpa.co.uk - The Fire Protection Association.
www.hse.gov.uk - The Health And Safety Executive.
www.firekills.gov.uk - Government Information Site
http://www.fire.org.uk/x.htm - Further independent information on fire extinguishers
LandlordZONE™ - Tenant and Landlord advice directory, includes a Fire Saftey directory
www.business-directory-uk - Usefull business directory
Here are a few pointers as to who to contact for more information about fire safety in your area:
Avon Fire Brigade Temple Back BRISTOL BS1 6EU Tel: 01179 262061 Avon County Council Avon House The Haymarket BRISTOL BS99 7DE Tel: 01272 290777 Web: The City of Bristol
Bedfordshire Fire Service Southfields Road Kempston BEDFORD MK42 7NR Tel: 01234 351081
Bedfordshire County Council County Hall BEDFORD MK42 9AP Tel: 01234 63222
Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service 103 Dee Road Tilehurst Reading BERKSHIRE RG30 4FS Tel: 01189 452888 Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Cambridge Street AYLESBURY Buckinghamshire HP20 1BD Tel: 01296 424666 Fax: 01296 428293
Buckinghamshire County Council County Hall AYLESBURY Buckinghamshire HP20 1UA Tel: 01296 395000
Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service Hinchingbrooke Cottage Brampton Road HUNTINGDON PE18 8NA Tel: 01480 454651
Cambridgeshire County Council Shire Hall Castle Hill CAMBRIDGE CB3 0AP Tel: 01223 317111 Web: Cambridgeshire County Council
Cheshire Fire Brigade Cheshire Fire Brigade HQ Sadler Road Winsford Cheshire CW7 2FQ Tel. 01606 868700 Web: Cheshire Fire Brigade
Cheshire County Council County Hall CHESTER CH1 1SF Tel: 01244 602424 Web: Cheshire County Council
Cleveland County Fire Brigade Endeavour House Stockton Road HARTLEPOOL Cleveland Tel: 01429 872311 Cleveland County Council Municipal Buildings Middlesbrough CLEVELAND TS1 2QH Tel: 01642 248155
Cornwall County Fire Brigade County Hall Station Road TRURO Cornwall Tel: 01872 273117
Cornwall County Council County Hall TRURO TR1 3AY Tel: 01872 274282
Cumbria County Fire Service COCKERMOUTH CA13 0EL Tel: 01900 822503
Cumbria County Council The Courts CARLISLE CA3 8XF Tel: 01228 382000
Derbyshire Fire Service The Old Hall Burton Road LITTLEOVER Derbyshire Tel: 01332 771221
Derbyshire County Council County Offices MATLOCK Derbyshire DE4 3AG Tel: 01629 581000
Devon Fire & Rescue Service Clyst St George EXETER EX3 0NW Tel: 01392 872200 Fax No: 01392 872300 Web: www.devfire.gov.uk
Dorset Fire Brigade Fire Brigade HQ County Hall DORCHESTER Dorset BT1 1XJ Tel: 01305 251133 Web: Dorset Fire Brigade
Dorset County Council County Hall DORCHESTER Dorset DT1 1XJ Tel: 01305 251000 Web: Dorset County Council Web: Weymouth and Portland Borough Council
Durham County Fire & Rescue Brigade Framwellgate Moor DURHAM DH1 5JR Tel: 01913 843381
Durham County Council County Hall DURHAM DH1 5UL Tel: 01913 864411 Web: Durham County Council
Essex County Fire & Rescue Service Rayleigh Close Rayleigh Road Hutton BRENTWOOD Essex CM13 1AL Tel: 01277 222531
Essex County Council County Hall CHELMSFORD CM1 1LX Tel: 01245 492211
Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service HQ Waterwells Drive Quedgeley Glos GL2 2AX Tel: 01452 753333 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.glosfire.gov.uk
Gloucestershire County Council Shire Hall GLOUCESTER GL1 2TG Tel: 01452 21444 Web: Stroud District Council Guernsey Fire Brigade Fire Brigade Headquarters Town Arsenal ST PETER PORT Guernsey CL Tel: 01481 724491
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Leigh Road EASTLEIGH Hants SO50 9SJ Tel: 023 80620000 Hereford & Worcester Fire Brigade Copenhagen Street WORCESTER WR1 2HQ Tel: 01905 24454 Hereford & Worcester County Council County Hall Spetchley Road WORCESTER WR5 2NP Tel: 01905 763763 Web: Hereford & Worcester County Council
Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Old London Road HERTFORD SL13 7LD Tel: 01992 507507
Hertfordshire County Council County Hall HERTFORD SG13 8DE Tel: 01992 555555 Web: Hertfordshire County Council The City and District of St Albans North Hertfordshire District Council
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Summergroves Way Hessle High Road HULL HU4 7BB Tel: 01482 565333 Humberside County Council County Hall BEVERLEY HU17 9BA Tel: 01482 867131
Isle of Man Fire Brigade Fire Brigade Headquarters Peel Road Douglas Isle of Man Tel: 01624 673333
Isle of Wight County Fire and Rescue Service St Nicholas 58 St Johns Road Newport P030 ILT Tel: 01983 823194 Isle of Wight County Council County Hall Newport PO30 1UD Tel: 01983 821000
Isles of Scilly Brigade County Hall Station Road TRURO TR1 3HA Tel: 01872 73117
Jersey Fire Brigade Headquarters Rouge Bouillon St Hellier Jersey Channel Islands Tel: 01534 37444
Kent Fire Brigade Tovil MAIDSTONE Kent ME15 6XB Tel: 01622 692121
Kent County Council County Hall Maidstone ME14 1XQ Tel: 01622 671411
Lancashire County Fire Brigade Garstang Road FULWOOD Preston PR2 3LH Tel: 01772 862545
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Anstey Frith Leicester Road Glenfield Leicestershire LE3 8HD Tel: 01162 872241
Leicestershire County Council County Hall Leicester LE3 8RA Tel: 0161 323323
Lincolnshire Fire Brigade South Park Avenue LINCOLN LN5 8EL Tel: 01522 582222
Lincolnshire County Council County Offices Lincoln LN1 1YL Tel: 01522 552222
London Fire Brigade 8 Albet Embankment LONDON SE1 7SD Tel: 0207 582 3811 Web: London Borough of Lewisham London Borough of Brent
Greater Manchester County Fire Service 146 Bolton Road Swinton Manchester M27 8US Tel: 01617 365866 Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Headquarters, Bridle Road, Bootle. Liverpool. L30 4YD Tel:(0151) 296 4000
West Midlands Fire Service Lancaster Circus Queensway Birmingham B4 7DE Tel: 0121 380 6222/6211/6231
West Midlands County Council 1 Lancaster Circus Queensway Birmingham B4 7DJ Tel: 02130 005151 WWW Sites:
Web: Birmingham City CouncilIT POINT (Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council) Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
Nationwide Fire Extinguishers Unit 1, Farlesthorpe Road, Alford, Lincolnshire, LN129PS Tel: 0800 612 7831 Web: Nationwide Fire Extinguishers
Norfolk Fire Service Whitegates Hethersett Norwich NR9 3DN Tel: 01603 810351
Norfolk County Council County Hall Norwich NR1 2DH Tel: 01603 222222
Northamptonshire Fire Brigade Moulton Way Moulton Park NORTHAMPTON NN3 1XJ Tel: 01604 797000 Northamsptonshire County Council County Hall Northampton NN1 1DN Tel: 01604 236236
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Loansdean MORPETH Northumberland NE61 2ED Tel: 01670 513161 Northumberland County Council County Hall Morpeth NE61 2EF Tel: 01670 533000 Web: Wansbeck District Council Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Bestwood Lodge Arnold Nottingham NG5 8PD Tel: 0115 9670880 Web: http://www.notts-fire.gov.uk
Nottingham County Council Principal County Hall West Bridford NG2 7QP Tel: 0115 9823823 Web: http://www.nottscc.gov.uk/
Oxfordshire Fire Service Sterling Road KIDLINGTON Oxford OX5 2DU Tel: 01865 842999
Oxfordshire County Council County Hall Oxford OX1 1ND Tel: 01865 792422
Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade Fire Station Bourges Boulevard Peterborough PE1 2AF Tel/Fax:- 01733 554439
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service St Michael's Street Shrewsbury Shropshire SY1 2HJ Tel: 01743 260200 Shropshire County Council The Shire Hall Abbey Foregate Shrewsbury SY2 6ND Tel: 0743 251000 WWW Sites: Somerset Fire Brigade Hestercombe House Cheddon Fitzpaine TAUNTON TA2 8LQ Tel: 01823 337222
Somerset County Council County Hall Taunton TA1 4DY Tel: 0823 333451 Web: Mendip District Council
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Pirehill STONE Staffs ST15 0BS Tel: 01785 813234
Staffordshire County Council County Buildings Martin Street Stafford ST16 2LH Tel: 01785 223121 Web: Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
Suffolk County Fire Service Colchester Road Ipswich Suffolk IP4 4SS Tel: 01473 725363
Suffolk County Council County Hall Ipswich IP4 2JS Web: Ipswich Borough Council
Surrey Fire & Rescue Service St Davids 70 Wray Park Road REIGATE RH2 0EJ Tel: 01737 242444
Surrey County Council County Hall Penrhyn Road Kingston upon Thames Surrey Tel: 01815 418800 Web: Surrey County Council
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service 24 King Henrys Road LEWES Sussex BN7 1BZ Tel: 01273 406000
East Sussex County Council Pelham House St Andrew's Lane Lewes BN7 1UN Tel: 01273 481000
West Sussex Fire Brigade HQ Northgate Chichester West Sussex PO19 1BD Tel: 01243 786211
West Sussex County Council County Hall Chichester PO19 1RQ Tel: 01243 777100
Tyne & Wear Fire & Civil Defence Authority Pilgrim Street Newcastle upon Tyne Tyne & Wear NE99 1HR Tel: 0191 2321224
Tyne & Wear Metropolitan County Council Sandyford House Archbold Terrace Newcastle pon Tyne NE2 1ED Tel: 01632 816144 Web: Newcastle City Council
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service Warwick Street Leamington Spa Warwickshire CV32 5LH Tel: 01926 423231 Warwickshire County Council Shire Hall Warwickshire CV34 4RR Tel: 01926 410410
Wiltshire Fire Brigade Manor House Potterne Devizes SN10 5PP Tel: 01380 723601
Wiltshire County Council County Hall Towbridge Wilts BA14 8JG Tel: 01225 713000 Y
North Yorkshire Fire Brigade Crosby Road NORTHALLERTON D16 1AB Tel: 01609 780150
North Yorkshire County Council County Hall Northallerton DL7 8AD Tel: 01609 780780
South Yorkshire County Fire & Rescue Service Command Headquarters 197 Eyre Street Sheffield South Yorkshire S1 3FG Tel: 0114 2727202 Fax: 0114 2726894
South Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council Department of Administration County Hall Barnsley S70 2TN Tel: 01226 86141
West Yorkshire Fire Service Oakroyd Hall Birkenshaw Bradford BD11 2DY Tel: 01274 682311 Web: West Yorkshire Fire & Civil Defence Authority Home Page