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· Registered
63 Posts
I think there are too many variables with that question to be answered?

Candle gets knocked over onto a curtain, hose is ready, sure a garden hose might work

I had a fire start in a wall, and could not believe how quickly it had spread. The firefighters dumped thousands of gallons of water on the house trying to put it out.

· ke4sky
190 Posts
Fire Extinguisher Basics

This is what we teach our CERT volunteers regarding fire extinguishers:

DO NOT FIGHT A FIRE IF - You don't know what is burning!

Wrong extinguisher can make things worse
Risk of toxic fumes, explosion hazards
Note presence of NFPA labels and placards!

Class A - "Ordinary" combustibles
such as paper, wood, rubber, plastics textiles.

Works by cooling. Numerical rating indicates amount of agent, duration, and rate of discharge on test fires. Area of Class A fire which a "non-expert" can extinguish, with proper training

1-A is equivalent on Class-A fire to five liters of water.
2-A contains has twice as much extinguishing agent.

Class B - "Flammable liquids"
Oil, gasoline, solvents

Works by blanketing the fuel. Interrupts chemical reaction at fuel surface.
Class B ratings signify the area in square feet of flammable liquid fire a unit will extinguish when used, by a trained, "non-expert."

Class C - "Energized Circuits"
Electrical equipment and computers

Class "C" units have no numerical rating.

Class "C" rating implies no capacity, but only indicates that the extinguishing agent is non-conductive, safe on energized equipment. Works by displacing oxygen, smothering fire.

Portable Fire Extinguishers

Capacity - 1.5 to 25 lbs. of extinguishing agent
Range - Typically 3 to 15 feet
Duration - Discharge their contents in only 5 to 30 seconds!

Common types:

Class A - Air-Pressured Water (APW)
Water + CO2 propellant
ONLY for Class A fires, wood / paper, etc.
Spreads burning liquids!
DANGER of electric shock if used on on live circuits!

Class B or ABC Multi-rated DRY CHEMICAL
Best for general use. Reduced risk of re-ignition
A 10 lb. unit empties in 8-10 secs. Effective range of 6 ft. to 15 ft.

Class BC - CO2
Best on burning liquids / electrical
SHORT range - 3 to 8 ft.
10- pound unit empties in 5 to 10 seconds!
Use short spurts! DISPERSES QUICKLY!
Continue applying after the fire is out!
Unit gets VERY cold - hold properly

Class BC - Halon
Best for computers / electronics
Weight-for-weight TWICE as effective as C02
No residue, easy clean-up
VERY SHORT range, 3 to 6 ft.
Like C02, Discharges QUICKLY!
Like C02, Disperses QUICKLY!
Continue discharge after flames are extinguished

Vehicle Fires Usually Start In the:
Electrical shorts under dash, often caused by improperly installed (unauthorized ) accessories
Discarded cigarettes igniting trash or upholstery

Fuel or oil system leaks onto hot engine
Pre-trip inspection, and proper maintenance

If a motor vehicle catches fire during operation:

PULL ENTIRELY OFF THE ROAD - Into a paved parking lot, or open field
NEVER into a gas station!



TURN OFF THE IGNITION! - Stops flow of current to equipment
EXIT THE CAB! - Identify the source of smoke or fire

1) You know what is burning, and fire is small / contained.
2) Extinguisher is available and you have been trained
3) Fire Department has been called, and you can fight the fire from outside
of the cab or with your back to a clear exit.


TURN OFF THE IGNITION! - Stops flow of current to equipment

EXIT THE CAB! - Identify the source of smoke or fire

DO NOT OPEN THE HOOD! - (air intensifies fire!)

KEEP BYSTANDERS AWAY! - until the Fire Department arrives
100 feet in front of or behind vehicle, stay away from vehicle sides, exploding tire hazard!


Upon discovering burning odor or smoke:

Call 911 First!
Disconnect Equipment
Remove combustibles, if you can do so without danger to yourself
Notify Building Security

Remove persons in immediate danger!
Ensure doors are closed! (confine fire/smoke)
Activate the building alarm !
Call the Fire Department !
Treat ALL fires as DANGEROUS!

Continue a complete building evacuation.

Do not attempt to fight a fire UNLESS you are trained

Building is being evacuated (Fire alarm has been pulled)

Fire Department has been called (Dial 911!)

Fire is NOT spreading (small and contained)

EXIT IS CLEAR (fight fire with your back to an exit )

Proper extinguisher is at hand, and...

You have been trained and know how to use it!

You use "Buddy System" - have someone back you up!
Get assistance BEFORE trying to fight a fire!

Remember the P(t)ASS word:
Keep your back to an unobstructed exit,
Stand at least 6 to 8 feet from the fire, then:

PULL the pin
(Test ONLY upon your approach to the fire)
Otherwise the powder extinguishing agent may clog the nozzle if unit is squeezed and released.

LOW at the base of the fire

the trigger / lever

Discharge cone or stream from side-to-side

WATCH the fire area. If the fire flares up again repeat!

If you can't control the fire, LEAVE immediately!

Call the fire department to inspect and "overhaul" the scene!

Recharge or replace any partially-used fire extinguisher!

For further information:

Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department
4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22020
(703) 246-3801 or (703-385-4419 TTY

Portions © 1995-2000 by Dr. Robert Toreki, used by permission
Fire Safety and Fire Extinguishers

· Registered
64 Posts

There's something called the fire-triangle.

You need three things to make a fire, Fuel, Oxygen and a Heat Source.

You attack any one of the three, and you beat the fire.

I have a few fire extinguishers, the ones I use on the road are CO2 and pressurized water. The dry chemical stuff essentially combines with the surface of the fuel to prevent it from emitting flammable gasses, the PROBLEM with that is that it doesn't reduce the heat, and it doesn't reduce the availability of oxygen.

The truth is you wont ever be exposed to some of the nasty crud that firefighters have to deal with - BUT YOU MIGHT.

1. Kitchen grease fire, or the more common "turkey grease fire" with LOTS of fuel and LOTS of propane heating the fuel. First and foremost you need to remember that if the fueld is lightweight, or liquid, that hitting it with a stream of water will only spread it - ENOUGH water can work, but it's messy. CO2 works best IMO for these, it's extremely cold (reduces the heat) and cuts off the oxygen supply. After you put out the flames, you need to address the fuel/ heat source. Turn off the propane/gas, then address the spilt fuel. For most it's safer to use dry-chemical, but it makes a horrible mess, CO2 just evaporates. Be careful, in an enclosed space the CO2 can make you pass out.

2. Wood fire/structure. If it's small and you can immediately apply ENOUGH WATER to make a difference, do so - if you don't think you can, then you need to get the heck away. Once a fire is hot enough, the pitiful stream from a garden hose will simply evaporate in the updraft before it even strikes the material to be cooled. If you do use water, work your way up from the bottom of the fire, don't spray it on top.

3. Car fire. CO2 or water. I have seen more than one vehicle and tractor-trailer fire become fully involved after several large dry chem extinguishers were applied to it - of course, none where I work, because I carry water and CO2.

4. Electrical fire. Not a really huge difference, you just have to remember that there is NOTHING that can cool a shorted wire below the point it will burn, so don't try. Keep the surrounding area from burning, and remember that electricity travels along the shortest path to ground, and that short path may be up the water stream and through your body.

5. Any fire involving anything but simple fuels. Run away, don't even try - seriously, don't try. If it's someone's garage, write the thing off - the very last thing you want is to spend a lifetime with scarred lung tissue because you thought it was worth it to save your neighbor's workshop. Sometimes as little as one whiff of the wrong chemical (and there are too many) will cause unconsciousness. It's not worth it, run away - the farther the better.

People are more important than things. If it's a grid-down survival situation, you have to learn to be more safe than it seems possible around anything that might burn. The first fire will wipe you out. Storing liquid fuels in your garage for instance. Smoking a pipe when you're reloading (seen it). Deciding that one big burn pile is a better idea, than five small ones - only to see the flaming embers float on the updraft to your shingle roof, or the neighbors corn.

· Emergency Manager
103 Posts
Fire Size

Can a small fire typically be put out with a water-hose if you get to it well before it gets large?
We teach, in Community Emergency Response Team training, that, if the fire is larger than a small trashcan, it's too big for you. Call the Fire Department. They have the equipment and training to handle it.

Your time and talent would be better served getting your family, friends, coworkers outside safely.

· Internet Princess
2,844 Posts
We've had 2 fires. One was in the engine compartment on a car. It melted a hole into the radiator hose which sprayed water over the engine (hood was still closed) and put out the fire before the FDP arrived. The other was our utility pole. It started burning at the base after smoldering almost through the whole pole. I put that out with the extinguisher from my horse trailer that I bought specifically for the electrical rating. I had that fire out before the FDP arrived as well. That was a good thing because they couldn't touch it until the elect Co had the pole/power disconnected. Letting that burn for the hour it took PNM to arrive would have caught the brush in the neighbors yard and started the desert to burning.
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