Portable fire extinguishers can make the difference between life and death, an inconvenience and a complete loss. Fire is not something we normally think much about. But fire is one of the leading causes of property damage and along with it, serious injury and/or death. Something as simple as a small five pound dry chemical fire extinguisher can be a life saver in an emergency. Fire extinguishers are not expensive and they do not require a lot of space to store. However, they do require that you know how to use one properly and that they be inspected every year to ensure they are still serviceable.
Fire extinguishers come in many different sizes and configurations. The type of extinguisher model will be determined by what you intend to protect. For instance, in the kitchen, a small one pound ABC dry chemical extinguisher is perfect for grease fires that can start on the stovetop or in the oven. It will immediately smother a small fire and it can easily be kept in a kitchen cabinet. In the garage or in the shop, a five pound dry-chem ABC extinguisher is better suited for fires that can start from ignited fuels, oils and other flammable liquids such a cleaners and solvents. It will also be rated for fires fueled by wood and paper products as well should the trash can catch on fire from a hot spark or poorly disposed of smoking materials.
Portable fire extinguishers are also very smart accessories to keep in your vehicle, whether it's a car, truck, RV or boat. Engine fires can quickly engulf a vehicle and render it a total loss. Project Responder, back in the earlier days when it was just a daily driver and volunteer firefighter's truck, suffered an electrical fire under the hood when a battery cable came loose and made contact with the front driveshaft. After time, the front driveshaft, turning ever so slowly, even in two wheel drive, eventually wore though the insulation and caused a direct short, thus catching the cable's insulation on fire. Fortunately there were two fire extinguishers onboard. The first extinguisher, a one pound ABC model, was immediately discharged under the hood which almost immediately surpassed the fire. But because there was still current flowing from the battery, the fire was not completely extinguished. It did open a window of opportunity to retrieve the five pound ABC extinguisher from the cross bed tool box and completely put out the fire. Had the fire extinguishers not been on board, chances are great that Project Responder would not exist today.
In environments where the powder from a dry-chem extinguisher may itself cause damage to items such as computers, video games and electronics, a gaseous extinguisher filled with CO2 (carbon dioxide) will put out small fires without leaving residual residue. The choice of which type of extinguisher should not be taken lightly. Carefully determine what it is you want to protect and where it will be stored. This, then will allow you to choose the correct type of fire extinguisher for your situation.
Portable fire extinguishers are an inexpensive insurance policy that you hope you'll never need. But if you do, you'll be very glad it's there. Take the time to learn about fire extinguishers, the various types and how they are used. The life (or property) you save, may be your own.