Fire extinguisher serves as first line battle against the fire before fire brigade arrives your house if there is any fire. It is advisable to have at least two fire extinguishers in your house.
Fire occurs if the following elements exist:
(iii) fuel and
(iv) chemical reaction.
These elements form the Fire Triangle.
Fire can be extinguished by removing or isolating any of those elements in the Fire Triangle from the rest.
There are many types of fire extinguisher available in the market. It is vital that you use the correct fire extinguisher to extinguish a fire. The wrong type of fire extinguisher may not be able to put off the fire and hence not effective. Using incorrect agent can allow the fire to re-ignite after apparently being extinguished successfully.
Some suppliers are ignorant about the suitable type of fire extinguisher for different household use. It is advisable to check the fire extinguisher you have in your home.
Normally a fire in a house occurs on wood, paper, cloth, plastic etc. This type of fire is known as Class A fire.
Fire also quite often occurs in the kitchen involving cooking oil and grease like animal fats and vegetable fats. This is Class K fire.
Sometimes, fire also occurs at electrical equipments like motor, transformer and appliances. This type of fire is called Class C fire.
The suitable fire extinguisher for household use are:-
i. Dry chemical fire extinguisher
It is effective on Class A and Class C fire. It extinguishes fire primarily by interrupting the chemical reaction of the Fire Triangle. It works by creating a barrier between oxygen and fuel elements of Class A fire.
ii. Water mist
This type of fire extinguisher is primarily for Class A fire although they are safer for use on Class C fire. It extinguishes fire by taking away the heat element of the Fire Triangle.
iii. Cartridge operated dry chemical
This agent works by creating a barrier between the oxygen element and fuel element on Class A fire. It is also suitable for use on Class C fire.
If you choose to use any of the above fire extinguisher, you may achieve cost-effectiveness as it is suitable for both Class A and C fire.
Other types of fire extinguisher which are suitable only for one type of fire are:
i. Water and foam fire extinguisher
It is only suitable for Class A fire. It extinguishes fire by taking away the heat element from the Fire Triangle. It is not suitable for Class C fire which involves electrical equipments. You may get electrocuted because the water is current conductor.
ii. Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher
It can be used on Class C fire. It operates by taking away the oxygen element of the Fire Triangle and removing heat.
iii. Clean agent and halogenated fire extinguisher
It extinguishes Class C fire only. It involves halon agents and halocarbon agents. The agents extinguish fire by interrupting the chemical reaction of the Fire Triangle.
For kitchen involving Class K fire, you need to use wet chemical fire extinguisher. It operates by removing the heat element of the Fire Triangle and prevents re-ignition by creating a barrier between the oxygen and fuel elements. This type of fire extinguisher can be used on Class C fire as well.
In conclusion, you need to have 2 fire extinguishers i.e. one for Class A and C fire and the other for Class K fire in the kitchen.
Fire extinguisher must be maintained in accordance with the relevant local regulations. In Malaysia, fire extinguisher has to be maintained by the supplier once per year and examined by the Fire Brigade Department. The Fire Brigade will issue a Fire Brigade Certificate upon completion of examination and compliance with its regulations.