Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store - AFFF Foam Fire Extinguishers

by Curtis Worthington
Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store - AFFF Foam Fire Extinguishers

Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store

The AFFF Foam Fire Extinguisher

As Foam fire extinguishers are so versatile, they can be recommended to almost any home or business. This guide aims to inform you whether you should consider using AFFF foam extinguishers on your premises.

We are the Fire Safety Store and your safety is our number one priority. The first step to safety is to be aware of the risks; the second step to safety is having the equipment to combat them. This series of articles is all about the second step to safety. Once you have identified a fire risk in your property, having the right extinguisher to hand is the best way to maximise your personal safety and minimise any property losses. Each type of extinguisher has its own distinct properties and specialisms and we hope this guide will help you find the one which is right for you.

Why Choose a Foam Fire Extinguisher?

The Short Answer:

  • Excellent against Class A and B fires
  • Very high fire ratings
  • Lighter than water fire extinguishers
  • Most kinds pass the 35kv test which makes foam fire extinguishers safe if used around live electrical equipment.


The Long Answer:

An AFFF foam fire extinguisher is a solid choice for most homes and businesses due to its high ratings and its ability to put out both Class A and B fires. Class A fires are the most common type of fire and refer to fires which result from the burning of solid fuels such as wood or textiles. Class B fires are fires which result from the burning of flammable liquids like petrol, oil, or paint. This dual fire-fighting ability makes the foam fire extinguisher an excellent choice for your safety needs. AFFF foam stands for Aqueous Film Forming Fluid, and the solution puts out fires by removing the heat and the oxygen from the fire tetrahedron. The fire tetrahedron refers to the four components required for the existence of a fire- heat, oxygen, fuel and a chemical reaction. When any of these components is removed, the fire will be put out. The ability of AFFF foam extinguishers to remove two of the components makes them one of the safest extinguishers around, with the potential for re-ignition being extremely low. Most brands of AFFF fire extinguisher have passed the 35kv test, which makes them non-conductive enough to be used around live electrical equipment, but this should never be done intentionally. For safety purposes the only extinguisher which should be intentionally used on electrical fires is the carbon dioxide extinguisher.

Who Benefits Most From Having a Foam Fire Extinguisher?

As Foam fire extinguishers are so versatile, they can be recommended to almost any home or business. They are particularly suitable for retail units and warehouses and should be considered for any premises where delivery vehicles or DIY materials are stored, to negate any risks from petrol or paint fires. Similarly garages, forecourts, and artists’ studios can benefit from the foam extinguishers ability to put out liquid fires. Foam fire extinguishers are also excellent when used in conjunction with fire blankets and existing sprinkler systems. A well-placed foam fire extinguisher is capable of solving most fire needs.

What Kinds of AFFF Foam Fire Extinguisher Are There?

Here at Fire Safety Store we provide AFFF foam extinguishers from 600ml car-suitable canisters all the way up to 9l canisters. Each of our products comes with a 5 year guarantee and the knowledge that they have been specially chosen for their ratings and reliability. Foam fire extinguishers are recognisable by the cream panel and the ‘FOAM’ in capital letters on the side information panel. In an ambiguous situation there should always be a fire extinguisher ID sign situated nearby. AFFF foam extinguishers are typically the only foam extinguishers available commercially. AFFF foam extinguishers are quick and effective at dispatching fires, though they do leave a residue behind. This residue can be an irritant and therefore it is advised to use gloves and where necessary eye protection also when cleaning up after an AFFF foam extinguisher has been discharged.

 There is also a type of extinguisher known as a dry foam extinguisher which is used specifically to deal with wildfires, but you are unlikely to encounter this in a non-special setting.

Maintaining a Foam Fire Extinguisher:

Any fire extinguisher needs to be installed and maintained properly in order to be of use in an emergency. Successful maintenance begins with correct commissioning and installation of your fire extinguisher by a BAFE certified professional. It should be installed 30m from a specific hazard, or at designated safety points in a large building for Class A fires, and 10m from a specific hazard for Class B fires. If you are unsure where to place your extinguishers for maximum safety, please contact our advisors. We are part of a national network of qualified site surveyors and maintenance professionals.

Maintenance You Can Perform Personally

Maintenance Which Should Be Carried Out Professionally

Once a month you should perform a visual inspection to determine the following:

  • That the pin in the handle has not been tampered with
  • That there are no dents in the canister
  • That there are no signs of leakage
  • That there are no signs of damage or corrosion around the seals
  • That where applicable the pressure dial remains in the green
  • It is a legal requirement for a yearly maintenance inspection to be carried out on your extinguisher by a professional. They will run through a maintenance checklist and sign the paperwork required for your insurance
  • Every five years your AFFF foam extinguisher should be completely emptied and refilled.
  • If your foam fire extinguisher has been used, even partially, it should be fully discharged and refilled at your earliest opportunity


How to Tackle a Fire with a Foam Fire Extinguisher:

When a fire breaks out it is important to first determine whether it is small enough to be extinguished using a fire extinguisher. In any circumstances the fire and rescue services should be notified, and any extraneous personnel evacuated. The PASS acronym is used to remember the standard steps for tackling a fire with a fire extinguisher:

P- Pull the pin from the handle to release the lock.

A- Aim the hose at the base of the flames to ensure that the foam reaches the fuel for Class A fires. For Class B fires aim at a vertical surface adjacent to the fire where possible, or at the nearest rim for a contained fire.

S- Squeeze the handle to release the foam. Keep the pressure steady and be mindful that an extinguisher has only a limited charge.

S- Sweep the hose from side to side to smother the fuel completely for a Class A fire. For a Class B fire try to allow the foam to settle gently to minimise the risk of the burning liquid splashing as this can risk burns to the operator and also the danger of the flammable liquid igniting other surfaces and spreading the fire.