A foam fire extinguisher is a type of fire extinguisher that uses a foam mixture to suppress fires. Foam fire extinguishers are commonly used to extinguish fires involving flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and diesel fuel. In this article, we will explore the history of foam fire extinguishers, their types, uses, and how they work.
What is a Foam Fire Extinguisher?
A foam fire extinguisher is a type of fire extinguisher that uses a foam mixture to extinguish fires. The foam mixture is a combination of water, foam concentrate, and air. The foam concentrate is mixed with water in the extinguisher’s tank and then expelled through the nozzle or hose onto the fire. The foam works by cooling the fire, separating the fire from the oxygen, and suppressing the flames.
Who Invented the Foam Fire Extinguisher?
The foam fire extinguisher was invented by Alexander Laurant, a Canadian inventor in 1904. Initially, the foam fire extinguisher was only used in commercial settings, but it eventually became widely used for home and personal use.
Types and Uses of Foam Fire Extinguishers
There are two main types of foam fire extinguishers, AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) and FFFP (Film Forming Fluoroprotein). The AFFF extinguisher is used on Class A and B fires and can be used on fires involving wood, paper, textiles, and flammable liquids. FFFP extinguishers are more effective on Class B fires involving flammable liquids.
Foam fire extinguishers are commonly used in industrial and commercial settings, such as factories, refineries, and warehouses, where flammable liquids are commonly used. They are also used in vehicles, including cars, buses, and trucks.
What is a Foam Fire Extinguisher Made of?
A foam fire extinguisher is made of a metal tank or cylinder that contains the foam mixture. The tank is pressurized with air or nitrogen, allowing the foam mixture to be expelled from the nozzle or hose. The foam mixture is made up of water, foam concentrate, and air.
Which Foam is Used in Fire Extinguishers?
There are different types of foam concentrates used in foam fire extinguishers, including AFFF and FFFP. AFFF foam concentrate is made of a mixture of water, fluorinated surfactants, and other components. FFFP foam concentrate is made of a mixture of water, hydrolyzed protein, and other components. The foam concentrate is mixed with water in the tank to create the foam mixture.
How Does a Foam Fire Extinguisher Work?
When the foam fire extinguisher is used, the foam mixture is expelled from the nozzle or hose onto the fire. The foam mixture works to cool the fire by reducing the temperature, separating the fire from the oxygen, and suppressing the flames. The foam mixture creates a film on the surface of the flammable liquid, which prevents the release of flammable vapors and helps to prevent reignition.
How to Use a Foam Fire Extinguisher
Using a foam fire extinguisher is relatively straightforward. The following steps are recommended when using a foam fire extinguisher:
Pull the safety pin on the fire extinguisher to unlock the trigger.
Aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the trigger to expel the foam mixture onto the fire.
Sweep the nozzle or hose back and forth across the base of the fire until it is extinguished.
If the fire is not extinguished, evacuate the area and call the fire department.
What Not to Use a Foam Fire Extinguisher On
While foam fire extinguishers are suitable for a wide range of fires, there are some instances when they should not be used. For instance, foam fire extinguishers should not be used on fires involving electrical equipment or flammable gases. Attempting to use foam on an electrical fire can result in electrocution or a more significant fire outbreak.
Foam fire extinguishers are also not effective for fires involving cooking oils, such as vegetable or olive oil. When using foam on oil fires, the foam breaks down the oil, causing it to spread further, making the situation worse. Instead, a class K fire extinguisher, which is specifically designed for commercial kitchens and restaurants, should be used to put out oil fires.
It’s essential to know the type of fire extinguisher to use in each situation. Using the wrong extinguisher can have adverse effects and can even exacerbate the situation. Therefore, it’s crucial to be familiar with the various types of fire extinguishers and the types of fires they can handle.
Why Foam Fire Extinguishers Are Effective on Oil Fires
While foam fire extinguishers should not be used on some fires, they are effective on oil fires, which are common in kitchens and industrial settings. Oil fires are a dangerous type of fire because they tend to burn hotter and can quickly spread. However, foam fire extinguishers are designed to create a barrier between the fuel (in this case, oil) and oxygen, which is necessary for combustion to occur.
Foam fire extinguishers work by releasing a foam that quickly covers the surface of the oil and creates a barrier between the oil and the oxygen in the air. This barrier suffocates the fire, preventing it from spreading further. The foam also has cooling properties that lower the temperature of the oil, making it less likely to reignite.
In summary, foam fire extinguishers are effective on oil fires because they create a barrier that cuts off the supply of oxygen and cools down the fuel source. They are ideal for kitchen fires that typically involve cooking oils and fats. However, it’s essential to use them correctly, and in the right situation. Using foam fire extinguishers on electrical fires or flammable gases can be hazardous and can lead to severe injuries or property damage.
Fire safety is a crucial aspect of home and business safety. Having a fire extinguisher on hand and knowing how to use it correctly can mean the difference between a minor fire incident and a catastrophic fire outbreak. Foam fire extinguishers are one of the most common types of fire extinguishers used for oil fires in kitchens and industrial settings. They are effective because they create a barrier between the fuel and oxygen while also cooling down the fuel source. However, they should not be used on electrical fires or flammable gases, and it’s crucial to know when to use them to prevent hazardous situations.