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How to Use a Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher

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In an ideal world, you would never have to use a fire extinguisher, but it’s always best to prepare yourself for the worst so, if a fire does break out, you know exactly what to do with the equipment at your disposal.

This month, the Asco team will be teaching you exactly how to use a wet chemical fire extinguisher, let’s get straight to it.

What is a wet chemical fire extinguisher?

Firstly let’s cover exactly what a wet chemical fire extinguisher is and what sort of fires you can put out with one.

  • Wet chemical fire extinguishers always feature a yellow label, so if you’re struggling to identify what kind of extinguisher you’re working with, this should be the most obvious sign. 
  • Wet chemical extinguishers were created to fight Class F fires, that is, fires caused by cooking oils and fats, such as sunflower oil, maize oil and butter. This makes wet chemical fire extinguishers essential in commercial kitchens.
  • Other types of extinguishers, such as water and foam extinguishers, should not be used to fight Class F fires. This is in part due to the way that water and foam behave once sprayed, and also the contents of these types of extinguishers tend to be applied to a fire more rapidly, which can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire.
  • Wet chemical extinguishers contain a potassium-based solution that fight fires in two distinct ways: 1) When the extinguisher is activated, the mist initially cools the fire and limits its ability to spread, and 2) the potassium reacts chemically with the hot oil and causes something called saponification, whereby the oil or fat is coated in a soap-like foam that acts as a blanket that suppresses the fire.
  • It’s also worth noting that wet chemical fire extinguishers can be used to tackle Class A and Class B fires too if needed (fires caused by wood, paper and soft furnishings). For example, Asco fire wet chemical extinguishers are ABF-rated, meaning that they can be used to tackle all three classes of fire.

How to use a wet chemical extinguisher

  1. Firstly, make sure that you are using the right kind of extinguisher (remember: yellow label).
  2. Before activating the extinguisher, make sure you are standing a safe distance away from the fire and take out the safety pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
  3. Hold the extinguisher’s lance out in front of you and aim the nozzle above the fire.
  4. You can now start to slowly squeeze the trigger, activating the extinguisher.
  5. Apply the solution to the fire in circular motions, ensuring that the mist hits a wide area and stops the oil from splashing.
  6. Use the entire contents of the fire extinguisher to make absolutely sure that potassium salts have reacted properly with the oil and the soapy blanket has formed. This is vital because it’s this reaction which will ultimately stop the fire from reigniting.

Here at Asco, we’re one of the leading fire protection companies throughout Glasgow, Edinburgh and Midlothian. So, if you need to order some fire extinguishers for your business premises but you’re not sure as to what type you need and where they should be sited, give us a call and we would be happy to help.

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