30th October, 2014
How to Choose a Fire Extinguisher for Your Philly Apartment

Do you need a fire extinguisher for your Philly apartment?  Fire extinguishers reduce the potential for damage which keeps insurance premiums and rent prices down.

Several types of fire extinguishers are available, and each has a specific use.

How Many?

Common household fire extinguishers are only intended to snuff out small blazes before they become serious infernos.  Keep as many as necessary to grab quickly before a fire gets out of control.  For starters, you should probably have one in the kitchen and perhaps one near valuable electronic equipment.

What Type?

The kind of fire extinguisher you should use in your Philly apartment depends on what’s burning. Different types of extinguishers are available for different types of fires, and each is prominently labeled with an alpha designation:

Class A Fires:  If household items like cardboard, fabric, or wood (a sofa, for example) are on fire, the best way to put out a fire is with water.  Class A fire extinguishers contain water and are useful only on class A fires.  Water can actually be dangerous on other types of fires because water spreads grease fires and conducts electricity in an electrical fire.

Newer A-type extinguishers spray a fine mist of water, which is safer because a mist of water is less likely to conduct electricity and will likely cause less damage to important documents, electronic equipment or books.

Class B Fires: This type of fire involving gasoline, kerosene, grease, oil, and other combustible liquids is common in kitchens, and you should use an extinguisher labeled B or BC. Most contain dry chemicals similar to bicarbonate of soda (a great all-purpose kitchen fire extinguisher) in a pressurized foam base.

Class C Fires: These fires involve electric equipment (not electronic equipment) and you would typically consider choosing a fire extinguisher labeled BC or ABC.

What Does the Number Mean?

Along with the letter designations listed above, fire extinguishers also have a number. This indicates how much fire the extinguisher can control —–higher numbers put out bigger fires.

Note that bigger isn’t always better when choosing a fire extinguisher for your Philly apartment as large extinguishers are more difficult to handle and can only be used by one person at a time.  Several smaller extinguishers may be preferable to one large one. 

Do You Have an All-Purpose Problem?

Fire extinguishers labeled ABC will handle all classes of fire, and they would seem to eliminate the question, “What kind of fire extinguisher do I need?” But the all-purpose extinguisher has some disadvantages. These all-purpose extinguishers usually large and hard to handle, they contain chemicals that can corrode aluminum and damage electric systems, and they leave an unpleasant yellow residue.

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