Fire extinguisher is unnecessary safety equipment that you should always have in your homes. it’s mandatory for buildings and apartments to have these make sure these are available in case of any fire.
As a part of my day job, we are also often given fire drill training where we are also trained on how to use fire extinguishers.
But since some of us live in really cold areas where the temperature can drop below 0, you might be wondering whether your fire extinguisher would work in these conditions or not.
Can Fire Extinguisher Freeze?
Fire extinguisher does freeze, but not all of them. However, it depends mainly on the content of the said fire extinguisher.
Many individuals, who store theirs in uninsulated areas such as their basement, garage, shed or even outdoors might be wondering if their fire extinguishers can become damaged or unable to release their content when hit by freezing temperature.
Well, as I said before, the type of extinguishers you are using does play a crucial role in this. It will determine whether your fire extinguisher will freeze or get damaged from the cold outside.
So without much ado, let’s look into the subject matter deeply.
Freezing Of Fire Extinguisher – What’s The Problem?
You should always consider storing your fire extinguisher in a place that is properly insulated.
Why is this necessary?
If the place is well insulated, the constituents of the extinguisher may likely not freeze.
However, this is an issue with extinguishers whose constituents comprise of water. And you know, water can change from one state to another under certain conditions. It can transform from liquid to solid state in freezing temperatures.
And, when your extinguisher freezes, nothing will come out from the canister. In other words, it won’t discharge when you need it.
So, what can you do to prevent the freezing of your extinguisher?
For instance, if you are planning to mount an extinguisher outdoor, such as a garage, barn, or even a camping ground, what should be the ideal thing to do? How can you keep your extinguisher from freezing out?
The ideal option will be to splash the cash on an extinguisher (water or foam type) that has built-in antifreeze.
What’s the benefit of the built-in antifreeze?
With the antifreeze, you will have the opportunity to use your extinguisher without challenges even if the temperature goes below the -9 degree centigrade mark which is incredible.
But then, have in mind that the ordinary extinguisher’s internal lining might have a different reaction to lower temperatures. It might even be damaged when the temperature is at 0 degrees Centigrade.
Facts On Fire Extinguishers And Freezing
First, have in mind that various types of fire extinguishers exist and each one of them comes designed to tackle a specific fire type.
So, let’s focus on the freezing thing to know if the canister you have will be ready for use when the need arises, most especially during freezing temperatures.
Now, this is something you should know;
Extinguishers have different constituents in them. Some contain water, foam, wet chemical, dry powder, carbon dioxide, and so on.
So, the ones that contain water mist, as well as pressurized water canisters, will most definitely freeze when you store them in temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You will even find the warning sign written on the product that if freezes under such conditions.
Water canisters are not the only ones that can freeze when stored under freezing temperatures. FFFP foam, AFFF foam, and the Class K category of fire extinguishers also freezes.
What about extinguishers resistant to freezing temperatures?
The thing is, some extinguishers won’t ever freeze like the ones I mentioned above. An example is the popular ABC extinguisher.
The ABC extinguisher is designed to combat fires such as oil fires, electrical fires, class A fires which include fires from paper, wood, and even textiles. The ABC extinguisher makes use of dry chemicals that never freezes.
Other fire extinguishers that do not freeze are the pressurized water with built-in anti-freezers which prevents the constituents in the canister from solidifying.
Also, products like the CO2, halon, Halotron, Class D, and a host of other extinguishers containing dry chemicals don’t freeze. They can remain in their respective state even if the temperature falls below -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fire Extinguishers And Ways To Use Them Effectively
Having a fire extinguisher is one thing and using it is another. But before you think of becoming the next superhero firefighter in town, know that different fires do exist.
Well, that is because different fuels or inflammable materials create separate fires.
So what’s the implication of the above statement?
It means that you are going to need different extinguishers to combat separate fire outbreaks.
Here are different fire types and when to make use of your fire extinguisher to combat the fire.
1. The Water and Foam Extinguisher – How it works
Please, note; you can only use this type of extinguisher on Class A fires. These include combustibles like:
- Plastic materials
And, hey! You should never think of using the water extinguisher on any Class B fire. You will only worsen the situation and make the fire bigger by doing so.
The Class B fire in question is a flammable liquid that could be of either paint or gas (butane and propane).
Another category of fire you should never use the Water extinguisher on is a Class C fire. These include fire from electrical equipment like motors or any of the kitchen appliances.
The reason to avoid using this type of extinguisher on this class of fire is that Water conducts electricity and can create a shock hazard even when the light is put out. And, anyone that steps into the wet surface or touches the appliance could be in great danger.
Now, take note of this!
The foam extinguisher can be used on a Class A and Class B fire. You cannot use it on a Class C fire.
How does Water and Foam extinguishers work?
The water and foam both help to eliminate fires systemically.
The heat component of the light will be taken away by the water while the foam will separate oxygen from the burning flame.
2. Carbon Dioxide extinguisher – How it works
Carbon Dioxide extinguisher is another active type of extinguisher. But still, you can’t use it on all the fire types.
This extinguisher works effectively on Class B and Class C type of fires. What about Class A fires? No way! It is not that effective.
How does it work?
The Carbon Dioxide extinguisher uses a cold discharge to remove heat from a fire. It also displaces oxygen from fires.
3. Dry Chemical extinguisher – how does it work?
The Dry Chemical extinguisher is another type of extinguisher. However, the multipurpose Dry Chemical extinguisher, on the other hand, can tackle different fires such as Class A, Class B, and Class C, which makes it a highly sought-after extinguisher.
But then, if you are using the conventional Dry Chemical extinguisher type, and not the multipurpose one, know that you can only use it on a Class B and Class C fire.
How does a Dry Chemical extinguisher work?
The ordinary Dry Chemical extinguisher takes away the chemical reaction of fires to put them out. But the multipurpose type, when used on a Class A fire can create a form of barrier between fuel elements and oxygen, which puts out this category of fire quickly.
4. The Wet Chemical extinguisher – how it works
The Wet Chemicals extinguisher is the type you can count on for all Class K fire such as greases, cooking oils, vegetable fat, and even animal fat.
But wait a minute; do you think this extinguisher is for the Class K fire alone? No way, I am glad to let you know that some Wet Chemical extinguishers can handle the Class A fire effectively.
How does the Wet Chemical extinguisher work?
Well, this extinguisher does put out fires by merely removing the heat. But it does not stop there. It also creates a form of barrier between fuel and oxygen to prevent the fire from gaining momentum.
5. Clean Agent extinguisher – how it works
Alright, this Clean Agent extinguisher is for tackling Class B and Class C grade of fire.
But then, there is a Large Clean Agent type of extinguisher which handles both the Class A, B and C type of fires. So, I hope you are clear with this now.
How does the Clean Agent extinguisher work?
This extinguisher makes use of halocarbon and halon. Plus it also works by interrupting the chemical reaction part of the fire to put it out.
6. Water Mist – how it works
If you are dealing with a Class A fire, another extinguisher you can try is the Water Mist extinguisher.
But does this extinguisher works for Class A fires alone? No, it can also handle Class C fires effectively.
How does a Water Mist extinguisher work?
Simple, this extinguisher puts out the fire by removing the heating element. Once that’s done then off the fire goes.
Wrapping It Up
Well, the question “can fire extinguisher freeze?” has been answered.
And, yes fire extinguishers free, but it depends on the content in the canister. So remember to always store in an adequately insulated area.
And use the right extinguisher for the right fire type, as not doing so can make it more challenging to quench a fire.
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