What to think about when choosing between foam and powder fire extinguishing equipment

Posted on: 9 November 2015

There are many options available for choosing fire extinguishing equipment, as different types of extinguishers have different types of properties suited for different needs. Two of the most common types of fire extinguishers are powder and foam extinguishers. These two are often confused, as they have seemingly similar qualities, but when you are choosing which type of fire equipment to use in your home or at your workplace you should be aware of the different advantages of these two types.

Foam extinguishers

Foam extinguishers are very common in many different types of environments. They are suitable to use on class A and B fires, which means they can be used on wood and paper as well as flammable liquids. The foam soaks the material that is on fire, which puts out even deep-rooted fires. The water in the foam evaporates in the heat, which causes the fire to cool down. This is an important feature, as it prevents material from re-igniting after being put out. Foam extinguishers also have the quality of being somewhat effective on fires in oils and fats. It's not as effective as wet chemical extinguishers on these types of fires, but it's not dangerous to use on those types of fires. However, foam extinguishers can be dangerous for your health, since the foam contains substances that are harmful to inhale. Immediate clean up is therefore necessary after putting a fire out. 

Powder extinguishers

Powder extinguishers come in different varieties. The most common model for use at home is the ABE type. This is an extinguisher that along with class A and B fires also is suitable to use on flammable gases and electrical equipment (class C and E). This makes it more appropriate with different types of environments. It works by putting a sort of blanket of powder over the fire, which smothers it. It's more powerful than a foam extinguisher and requires a smaller container for the same amount of fire fighting power. A powder extinguisher doesn't soak the materials that are on fire, which is positive, as it doesn't harm different materials as much as a foam extinguisher, but it also leaves a possibility of re-ignition because it doesn't cool the fire down. Powder is also very harmful for your health, with the difference that it spreads over a larger area than foam does. This makes it harder to clean up, and it is also more airborne than foam, which increases the risk of it ending up in your lungs. When using a powder extinguisher, you should clean up and ventilate the area of the extinguishing as soon as possible.  

For more information about extinguishers and other fire equipment options, contact a local supplier.