5 Cool Facts About Fire Extinguishers

You may walk by fire extinguishers on the wall without giving them a second thought. You probably know how to use one in case of emergency, but that's about where your knowledge ends -- if you're like most people. After you read this article, you'll be in a whole other league! Here are five cool facts about fire extinguishers.

1. Fire Extinguishers Were Invented in the 1700s.

Fire extinguishers are not nearly as new as you might think. The first one was designed in England in the 1700s. The inventor was a chemist named Ambrose Godfrey. He basically filled the extinguisher with water and used a special gunpowder setup to propel the water out of the fire extinguisher at great speed. Later, George William Manby made advancements in the design of the fire extinguisher in the 1800s. He used compressed air and pearl ash in place of the water and gunpowder mixture, which was more effective and also a safer choice.

2. There Are Tiny Fire Extinguishers the Size of a Flashlight

You probably think of fire extinguishers as those big canisters mounted on walls. But in fact, there are much smaller models. The smallest is about the size of a flashlight. It looks a bit like a flashlight, too. Red in color, you can push one button to activate the extinguisher and put out a small fire. This type of fire extinguisher is great for putting out small stove fires and grill fires. Since it does not release as much product as a larger extinguisher, it causes less damage to the surrounding area, too. 

3. There Are Five Classes of Fire Extinguishers

Did you realize that there are various types of fire extinguishers made to put out different types of fires? Class A extinguishers are perfect for wood, paper, and cloth fires. Class B works for flammable liquids like gasoline, propane, and butane. Class C is the type you need in the case of an electrical fire, and this type is usually kept in warehouses and factories with a lot of electrical equipment. Class D fire extinguishers are usually only seen in chemical labs and factories as they put out fires involving potassium, sodium, magnesium, and aluminum. In a kitchen, you would want a Class K fire extinguisher. This type puts out grease fires, like those caused by cooking oil and butter. You can remember Class K extinguishers because "kitchen" starts with "k."

4. Some Fire Extinguishers Don't Contain Liquid

You may think of fire extinguishers as blowing water or liquids onto a fire in order to extinguish it. But in fact, many types of fire extinguishers spray a solid, not a liquid. Dry chemical fire extinguishers are really common in homes, and they tend to combine classes A, B, and C to put out a wide range of fire types. Dry powder fire extinguishers put out class D fires. 

5. The Largest Fire Extinguisher Is an Airplane

There is an airplane called Supertanker that is considered by most to be the largest fire extinguisher in the world. It is a Boeing 747 that has been specially modified to carry fire retardant. More than 20,000 gallons of extinguishing agents can fit in its chamber, and these agents are kept under pressure so they can be released quickly. The plane can be used to put out huge fires like forest fires. It was used in the Los Angeles area in 2009 for the first time.

Now that you know a bit more about fire extinguishers, make sure your own are up-to-date. Contact a fire extinguisher company like Tri County Fire Protection to learn more.