There are a few different classifications of fires, along with a few classifications of fire extinguishers. Each one is built for specific types of fires. Using the right fire safety equipment in the event of a fire is vital to reducing damage and keeping people from getting hurt. This guide will go over CO2 fire extinguishers and how they function.
What Is a CO2 Fire Extinguisher Used For?
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, also known as CO2 extinguishers, are made for fires involving flammable gases and liquids as well as electrical fires- classes B and C respectively. CO2 fire extinguishers contain non-flammable carbon dioxide gas. You can identify a CO2 fire extinguisher by its black-coloured label as well as its lack of pressure gauge. It doesn’t have a pressure gauge because the pressure inside of the extinguisher is extremely high.
It’s important to know the different classifications of fire before using any type of fire extinguisher. If you end up using the wrong one, it could make the fire exponentially worse. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are usually used for class B fires and class C fires. These fires involve flammable gas, flammable liquid, and energized electricals or electrical equipment(electrical fires).
However, they are originally designed for liquid fires, and are most commonly used on this fire class. Liquid fires that can be extinguished with CO2 extinguishers include fires involving flammable liquids such as lacquers, oil, grease (excluding cooking materials) paints, tars, and solvents.
How Do CO2 Fire Extinguishers Work?
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers work by displacing the oxygen around a fire to extinguish it. Once carbon dioxide gas is released from the fire safety device, it looks sort of like dried ice. A mass of CO2 resembling a cloud reduces the amount of oxygen surrounding the fire and effectively smothers it.
The range of discharge for this type of fire extinguisher is quite small, and does not work well outside. This is due to the wind being able to blow the carbon dioxide away from the fire and thus bring more oxygen to the combusted area. However, once CO2 is released, it will begin spreading. The horizontal range of the carbon dioxide stream is around three to ten feet, about half of the average range for different fire extinguisher types.
Features and Tips on CO2 Fire Extinguishers
The great thing about carbon dioxide fire extinguishers is that they do not leave any residue once the fire is out, requiring no cleanup. CO2 effectively cuts off the supply of oxygen to the fire and brings the temperature down once released. Once the carbon dioxide does its job, it will be released back into the atmosphere, leaving no trace behind.
This also means that there will likely be no damage involved with using this type of fire extinguisher. This can help with extinguishing fires on electronic equipment, as powder extinguishers can have corrosive effects.
One thing to remember about carbon dioxide fire extinguishers is to avoid making contact with the CO2, especially on bare skin. Doing so can cause frostbite, as the carbon dioxide turns into dried ice when it is released from the fire extinguisher. Because the carbon dioxide is so cold, this helps it cool down the flames coming from liquids or electronics.
How To Use A CO2 Fire Extinguisher
When using a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher: inspect the tool for the following items. First, easy access-ensure that nothing is blocking the way to access the fire extinguisher. Second, the pressure level- check the pressure gauge of the extinguisher to see if it’s too high or too low. Third, working parts- check that the nozzles, hoses, and body aren’t rusted or damaged. Fourth, cleanliness- clean any oil or grease off of the outside of the extinguisher. Finally, check the instructions on the extinguisher- some of them need to be tested for pressure or shaken occasionally.
When using a fire extinguisher, think of the word PASS. P is for pulling the pen- holding the fire extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from your body and release the lock. A is for aiming low- point the extinguisher at the base of the fire. S is for squeezing the lever- do so slowly and evenly. Finally, the last S is for sweeping- sweep the nozzle from side to side.