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Q: Fire Extinguishers - what are the best types for car and home? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Fire Extinguishers - what are the best types for car and home?
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: dogbreath-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 20 Nov 2002 03:19 PST
Expires: 20 Dec 2002 03:19 PST
Question ID: 111178
I would like to know what are the best types of fire extinguishers to
buy for general purpose use in cars and at home, and how large should
they be.  Also, I would like to have a link or two to suitable
websites in the UK that sell them over the internet.
Subject: Re: Fire Extinguishers - what are the best types for car and home?
Answered By: cobrien-ga on 20 Nov 2002 10:21 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi dogbreath-ga,

Fire extinguishers carried in cars should be, according to various
Fire stations’ Websites, dry powder. Dry powder is a multipurpose
extinguisher, suitable for solids (wood, paper, etc), flammable
liquids, flammable gases and electrical equipment. It is not suitable
for oil fires though, including chip pan fires. Of course, it goes
without saying that fire extinguishers are suitable for small fires,
but anything bigger should be left to the professionals. They should
also be maintained regularly.

For car use, one Website recommends a one kilo powder extinguisher. 
“For car fire protection opt for a minimum of a 1kilo extinguisher of
the powder type, keep it in the car, not the boot, and learn how to
use it.”

Remember that if you have a small fire extinguisher, there may not be
enough in it to extinguish a fire completely.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service also recommend the use of
a dry powder extinguisher, although this deals with fires under the
“If you believe it is safe to do so, attempt to put out the fire with
a dry powder or foam extinguisher. If the fire is in the engine
compartment, do not open the bonnet but aim the dry powder or foam
through the radiator grille or under the edge of the bonnet”

Odiham fire station recommends carrying a small dry powder canister to
put out car fires.

While researching, I did find a couple of sites that recommend the use
of halon fire extinguishers for use in cars. However, there are
several problems with these. First of all, they are more expensive
than other types of extinguishers, and they are also hard to find. The
biggest barrier to using a halon extinguisher is the environmental
affects of the gas, and extinguishers of this type are due to be
‘decommissioned’ in coming months. Many manufacturers have voluntarily
withdrawn the halon extinguishers.
“Under current European legislation the refill of Halon Extinguishers
will be banned from 31st Dec 2002 and all units must be withdrawn from
service and decommisioned by 31st Jan 2003.”

The Fire Safety  Website contains more information about the phasing
out of halon extinguishers:

There are also a couple of drawbacks to using dry powder
extinguishers; they are messy for a start. One Website, NSX Prime,
suggests that the older dry powder extinguishers may damage aluminium
and magnesium. However, the site does point out that the more modern
dry powder formulations are less corrosive.

The UK Fire Service resources page also mentions some of the pitfalls
of using a dry powder extinguisher:
“Danger Safe on electrical equipment although does not penetrate the
spaces in equipment easily and the fire may ignite. Does not cool the
fire very well and care must be taken to ensure the fire does not
flare up again.”

In the home, according to the UK government’s ‘Fire Kills’ Website,
the best type of fire extinguisher to have is Multi-Purpose dry powder
or Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF).

“Multi-purpose dry powder or Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) are
probably the best choices. They have the fewest dangers and are
effective on many types of fire.”

However, the site also mentions some of the pitfalls of using powder
extinguishers, such as the fact that it does not cool the fire, the
fire may re-ignite or penetrate small spaces well.

Aqueous Film Foam is not suitable for electricity fires or chip pan

I have already mentioned above that dry powder is not suitable for fat
pan or chip pan fires; instead try a fire blanket, which smothers the
flames. Even Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are not suitable for these
types of fires.
The extinguisher table on Odiham Fire Station’s Website has more

The site also has fire safety tips for in the home.

A fellow researcher with experience in this field, till-ga, has
recommended that the size of the fire extinguisher be about six
litres, instead of the smaller two litre canisters.

If you want to buy fire extinguishers online, there are several

MFS Fire Extinguishers

Kidde Home & Car fire extinguishers

Search terms used:

“fire extinguishers+home”
“fire extinguishers+car”
“Fire extinguishers+halon”
“fire safety”

I hope this helps.

If you require clarification, please ask and I will be happy to help.

dogbreath-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Excellent and accurate summary of the issues and some good sites to
buy from.  Many thanks indeed.

Subject: Re: Fire Extinguishers - what are the best types for car and home?
From: byprodut-ga on 01 Dec 2002 22:18 PST
All the info above is by the book.
Check otu these sites, search for detailed info.
Those are the 2 leading authories in the  US.
Almost all states fire commissions follow they're laws/codes.
BTW, codes are just another name for law.
Dry Chem extinguishers are ebst suited for electrical fires, as
liguids can cause electricution.
As a fire fighter, we use water with a added foam when and where ever
Naturally we kill the eltrical supply to the location 1st.
Car fires- The autois generally a total lose. What the fire doesn't
ruin, the extinguishing agents do.
Mt advice is, unless it's a very very small fire, that has just
started and you have immediate access to the fire and your
extinguisher, is make sure everyone is out of the area, by the time
you 1st do that, it's probally to late for the autp, so do not risk
getting hurt.
Car fires are extremely dangerous without the proper gear. DO NOT TAKE
Everything about a car is dangerous around flames. Even some of the
metals catch flame and burn. All items produce fumes, gas and smoke
that can totally ruin your lungs and fry your brains. Even if not
immediately noticiable, these effects can happen years later.
When fully doned in fire gear, the heat is still so intense that
trying to "grab" some little something form a engulfed vehicle is
When extinguishing the flames, parts of the inside may explode in your
face, very new cars will do it everytime. This is besides the burning
fuels, oils, tires, seats, etc.
Air bags can pop, and then reinflate many times. They have been
documented to pop 9 times, and could more then that.
batteries have acid fumes, they also can explode.
Glass can shatter and fly.
magnesium and aluminum parts burn and melt, then splatter when hit
with something cool or wet, all the while producing hazardous fumes.
Again, before trying to extinguish a fire, get everyone away 1st, and
then most likely, the heat won't allow you to get close enough to
fight the fire, even so, the car will probally eb a total lose, from
flame, smoke, heat and extingusghing agents, damage. Then shop and
parts cost for repairs. car most likely a total lose. So do not risk
anyones saftey for soemthing that probally will not be saved anyways.
Most fire start in the kitchen, probally eltrical.
Use a dry chem extinguisher for this. DO NOT MESS WITH ANYTHING
ELTRICAL. You may electricute yourself.
Other flames/fires
Burning cooking oil, do not use water unless life is threatened.
because water will make the oil splatter, probally burning you,
everyone else, and maybe catching curtains on fire, etc.
Instead can douse with flour, works real well, so long as you remove
the pan from the pan from the contiued heat source. Use a pan lid to
suffercate the flames, anything flame proof that will stop the air
flow, and flames escaping.
Wood products, clothing, carpet, etc, use plain water.
ALWAYS CALL 911 or whom ever provides your fire protection. let them
atleast check it out, even if you have extinguished th flames.
ESPECIALLY, woods, grass and trash fires outdoors. They very often
start back up.
REMEBER, always 1st get everyone to a safety location, and call for
help, before atempting anything. Also, remeber, burns heal very
slowing, even more so, internel burns such as you lungs. Everything
emitts fumes, vaors and smoke, these can kill you, in case of harm,
may not show up for years and is irreversible, in most cases.
About fire extinuisher sizes, always get the biggest you can and still
be abe to use. Our dept, never has enough water.
PS, in case i didn't mention it earlier, with enough water, pressure,
access and control, any flame can be EVENTUALLY extinguished.

some surmon, eh?
Subject: Re: Fire Extinguishers - what are the best types for car and home?
From: dogbreath-ga on 02 Dec 2002 09:14 PST

Many thanks for your sobering but realistic comments from your
professional experience.  It's well worth knowing the dangers of a
little amount of knowledge in the field if one tries to flight a fire
with any extinguisher.

Just a thought, which came to me when I was reading your comment, do
you know if there are any useful, easy to put on, breathing apparatus
for non-professional use in homes.  (this would be to aid an escape or
to allow one to rescue a trapped family member say, not just to try to
save the property) Reason I ask is that one of the places we live is a
large 200+ years old house miles from emergency fire services.

On a slightly different subject, I spend a lot of time in hotels
around the world and came across this excellent article by another
fire fighter on preventative measures for hotel guests to take, which
I now try to follow.  Well worth anybody reading I feel.

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