Stillwater Fire District
|Stillwater Fire District - Arvin Hart Fire Company|
Photos compliments of Bob Eastman owner of Ground Aerial photo services 2013
Fire Extinguishers to Know Them is To Understand ThemLately I have watched a number of You Tube videos related to car fires. Inevitably a fire extinguisher appears from somewhere and an attempt is made to put out a vehicle fire, usually with miserable results. Why doesnít it ever work? Letís examine whatís wrong.
There are a number of different types of extinguishing agents, water, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide are the ones that most people will put their hands one. The first issue is most have never used an extinguisher before and therefore donít know how to make it work. The basics are pull the pin and squeeze the handle and aim. That sounds pretty simple; it is but you need to understand the limitations and thatís where we go wrong. Water extinguishers work most efficiently on wood, paper or cloth materials, they will not work well on flammable or combustible materials. Dry chemical extinguishers with an A, B & C rating will work on all materials but they have limitations which I will explain in a moment. Then there are carbon dioxide extinguishers which work on flammable and combustible liquids, they work best inside a structure because they discharge as a gas and are easily blown around outside.
All of these extinguishers have the following limitations; the range is limited therefore you have to get close enough to apply the extinguishing agent directly to the base of the fire. Most first time users donít want to get that close, and therefore shoot the extinguisher off too far away with little effect. This is especially true of the gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguisher. The second important limitation is the duration of use. It doesnít take long to use up all of the agent and there you are left holding an empty extinguisher as the fire grows in front of you. Remember the agent has to reach the base of the fire. If you are going to try to use an extinguisher, which means there is something burning, its best to call 911 right away; call first or have someone call for you.
So the car is burning and you are running around to find an extinguisher to put it out, no one has called 911. You rush up to the car and discharge the extinguisher on the flames until it runs out. Very often the fire gets larger, why, you werenít able to place the extinguishing agent on the source of the fire which is usually under the hood. If you try to open the hood, the latch doesnít work, because the minute cord used to release the hood has already burnt off. Now you canít get to whatís burning. Hope you called 911 because that fire is going to get bigger and spread to the dash and the interior of the car. If it does just hope you have insurance because nothing you or the fire department can do will save it. We also hope that there are no exposures; buildings or other vehicles.
Next comes the fear of the large explosions, not really, save that for the TV folks who add pyrotechnics to the mix. It will just sit there and furiously burns due to the plastics, rubber and fuel in the vehicle. Once a vehicle is burnt out, there is very little left. Very often the tires will blow off as will other objects which are under stored pressure. The best advice is to get away from it, donít suck in the smoke from the burning plastics and hope the fire department arrives quickly. If you are in your car and discover it may be on fire, the first thing to do is pull the hood release, you may only have one chance. Otherwise get away from the car and donít get injured, youíre not likely to save it. When you report the fire on 911 tell the call taker if there are exposures, other vehicles or buildings which may be touched by the flames.
While itís a good practice to know how to use an extinguisher, itís very important to understand the limitations, distance and duration. That little 2 1/2lb unit you carry around with you, you might better throw it at the fire and run. It might be fine for a fire on the top of the stove but thatís it Ė also know that a dry chemical extinguisher discharged inside makes a hell of mess to clean up.
When the fire department does show up, we will be wearing full PPE protection including self contained breathing apparatus and we will use several hundreds of gallons of water to extinguish the fire. If the hood is not opened, we will have to pry it open with much difficulty to douse the flames.
Introduction to Fire Suppression Systems
Fire Department Connections (FDC) and Pressure Reducing Valves (PRV)
Floor Control Valves and Sprinkler Heads
Regularly Scheduled Events:
Training -- Wednesday Nights beginning at 6:30 P.M. and Saturdays beginning at 8:00 A.M. with breakfast beginning at 7:30AM
Company Meetings -- 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:30 P.M.
Board of Fire Commissioner's Meeting -- 2nd Monday of each month at 7:30 P.M.
Firefighting isnít for everyone, volunteering is Ė there is more to do than what is shown here:
Download sign-up sheets and become a member! (Click both links below and fill out)
Attention District Residents: To make sure your county 911 information is correct, call Saratoga County Emergency Services at 884-4769 daily between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M.
Additional Training Resource Links:
New Developments in Fire Service
Get on Board with Fire Service
New Developments in Fire Service Training
Get on Board with Fire Service Updates Training
© 2017 Stillwater Fire District All Rights Reserved.