Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store - Dry Powder & Specialist Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

01/04/2019
by Curtis Worthington
Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store - Dry Powder & Specialist Dry Powder

Learn About Fire Extinguishers with Fire Safety Store

Dry Powder and Specialist Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

ABC dry powder fire extinguishers can be used in a wide variety of situations due to their incredible versatility. We are here to give you all the information on how and when to use Dry Powder extinguishers.

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 Dry Powder or Specialist Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher?

The Short Answer

  • ABC Dry powder extinguishers are the most versatile extinguisher and the only extinguisher able to put out Class C fires
  • Mandated for use in vehicles carrying dangerous goods
  • Specialist dry powder extinguishers put out Class D fires
  • Invaluable in industrial situations

 

The Long Answer:

ABC Dry powder and specialist dry powder fire extinguishers are excellent choices for a fire extinguisher. ABC Dry powder extinguishers are the most versatile kind of extinguisher, able to put out Class A, B and C fires and also safe in the event of inadvertent use on electrical fires as they pass the 35kv test. A Class A fire is a fire involving a solid fuel source, such as fabric, plastic or wood. A Class B fire is a fire involving flammable liquids such as oil, paint or petrol, and a Class C fire is a fire involving flammable gases such as propane or butane. A dry powder fire extinguisher can deal with all of these with ease. Dry powder extinguishers work by disrupting the chemical oxidation reaction which takes place to create a fire. With this disrupted, the oxygen and the fuel source can no longer react, and the fire is put out.

A specialist dry powder fire extinguisher is used specifically for Class D fires. The fuel source in a Class D fire is a flammable metal, such as magnesium or potassium, which can burn incredibly quickly, and spread over a large area. Some specialist dry powder extinguishers work by creating a thick solid crust over the burning metal, preventing oxygen from reaching it. A fire can only last if all four components of the fire tetrahedron are present- fuel, oxygen, heat and a chemical reaction. Specialist dry powder and dry powder extinguishers target different areas of the tetrahedron, so despite their similar names they should not be substituted for one another under any circumstances.

Who Benefits From Having A Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher?

ABC dry powder fire extinguishers can be used in a wide variety of situations due to their incredible versatility, but they should be used with care. An ABC dry powder fire extinguisher should be ideally used in outdoor or otherwise well-ventilated spaces because the powder can complicate evacuations and should not be inhaled. This means the ABC dry powder fire extinguishers are best served in places like garages, forecourts, and camping grounds, where the risk is minimal. Another important use of the ABC dry powder fire extinguisher is in vehicles. Vehicles licensed to carry dangerous goods should always have an ABC dry powder extinguisher available, with the weight of the vehicle determining the extinguishing capacity required. Some local authorities may require vehicles for hire and taxis to carry extinguishers on board, in these cases an ABC dry powder extinguisher is usually the most desirable option.

Specialist dry powder fire extinguishers are usually intended for use in factories, laboratories or industrial settings. It is unlikely that a commercial or home setting would need these extinguishers. Drilling and other processes which might create heated metal shavings or swarf should always be done in the presence of a Class D extinguisher.

What Kinds Of Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher Are Available?

Dry powder fire extinguishers are recognisable by the blue panel and the word ‘POWDER’ present on the side of the canister. In situations where there is doubt, an extinguisher ID sign should be present nearby. Whilst many kinds of powder extinguishers exist, here at Fire Safety Store we stock ABC powder extinguishers in sizes from 600ml car extinguishers all the way up to 9kg heavy duty extinguishers in this variety. We also stock the FireGuard M28 9kg specialist dry powder extinguisher, with a specialised lance applicator to allow for gentle release of the agent and a ten year lifespan, making it a first class choice. For advice on these, or other extinguishers call our agents on 0800 3160890 and we will be happy to advise you.

Maintaining a Dry Powder 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. Where the extinguisher should be installed is dependent on the type of extinguisher (ABC or specialist) and the class of fire they are intended for. For ABC extinguishers they should be installed 10m from a Class B hazard and 30m from a Class A or C hazard. For specialist dry powder extinguishers they should be installed subject to a risk assessment. 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 ABC extinguisher should be completely emptied and refilled.
  • Our specialist dry powder extinguishers have a ten year lifespan, after which they too will need to be completely discharged and refilled
  • If your powder 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 Powder 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 for Class A fires. For Class B fires aim at a vertical surface near the fire where possible, or the rim if contained. For Class C fires, ensure any gas taps or mains are turned off before proceeding. For Class D fires aim slightly above to ensure the powder falls down onto the metal.

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

S- Sweep the hose from side to side to cover the fuel completely. Be gentle with both Class B and D fires to minimise the risk of spreading the burning fuel.