You must use the correct fire extinguisher for electrical fires because there is a risk of electric shock. You should certainly never use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire as water is a good conductor of electricity. Always use carbon dioxide extinguishers or dry chemical extinguishers on electric fires. Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher properly and knowing the correct extinguishers to use on different fires could save your life in emergency situations.
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers
Carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers are labelled B type extinguishers and are filled with carbon dioxide gas under extreme pressure. Carbon dioxide gas is nonflammable, and these extinguishers work by cutting out the oxygen that the fire needs to burn. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are red and are available in sizes from 2.27 to 45.4kg.
Dry Chemical Extinguishers
Dry chemical fire extinguishers are labelled C type and contain fire retardant chemical powders, using a nonflammable gas as a propellant. These extinguishers work by coating the electrical source of the fire with powder, stopping it from reacting with oxygen. The chemicals in these fire extinguishers are also good at halting the chemical reaction causing the fire. These extinguishers are red and are available in sizes from 5 to 20lbs.
Multi-Purpose Chemical Extinguishers
Multi-purpose chemical fire extinguishers are dry chemical mix fire extinguishers and can be used on different types of fires. Some multipurpose extinguishers are labelled for use on flammable liquid, type B fires and electrical, type C fires. Other multipurpose fire extinguishers are labelled for use on ordinary combustible type A fires, plus type B and C fires. Multi-purpose chemical fire extinguishers work in the same way as the ordinary dry chemical extinguishers and are red in colour, ranging in size from 5 to 20lbs.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
If you discover a fire and are trained to use fire extinguishers, you should first pull out the pin on the extinguisher. Fires need oxygen and fuel to maintain growth, so aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire to extinguish the fuel. Squeeze the lever of the fire extinguisher slowly to release a steady stream of extinguishing agent. Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, so you cover the whole fire with extinguishing agent. Ensure that you maintain your aim at the base of the fire. As the fire begins to diminish, move closer to it. Never turn your back on a fire until you are quite sure it has been completely extinguished.