Water Fire Extinguisher

By far the most popular choice in portable fire-suppressants is water. Ideally suited for ordinary combustible fires known as the Class A category, water fire extinguishers are the most effective suppressing agent for fires involving paper, wood, fabrics and furnishings, which are the most common material components of household fires.

This type of extinguisher is popular for several reasons. They are very simple to use, easy to refill and the contents are not harmful to people or the environment. For these reasons they are often found in settings where children and young people are present.

Despite the obvious advantages to a water fire extinguisher, they must never be used in fires where live electricity is present or could possibly become exposed, as water conducts electricity. CO2 extinguishers are better suited to this type of fire. A water fire extinguisher is also not recommended for Class B or D fires, as the power of the water from the nozzle is more likely to spread the burning materials over a larger area and make the fire worse, rather than actually extinguishing it.

What colour is a Water Fire Extinguisher?

Water Fire Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers are solid bright red in colour, and unlike other portable fire extinguishers they have no band of any other colour across them. Some premises have stainless steel versions with red lettering instead, although this is more of a design choice and these do not conform to the requirements of BS EN3. All water fire extinguishers have a black hose and nozzle attached, so the fire can be accurately tackled directly by the operator. A pressure gauge is also present by the handle of the canister, which gives the user or the individual performing maintenance and servicing a clear view of whether or not the amount of water inside is sufficient for use in a fire.

This type of extinguishing agent attacks a fire in two ways simultaneously – firstly by dousing the flames and also by soaking the materials fuelling the fire so that they are unable to continue burning. The canisters can come in several ratings (which display the maximum volume of combustible materials the extinguisher can handle), with the most common being 13A, and the best being 21A. Water has a limited capacity in fighting a fire, and as the majority of canisters carry 9 litres, they are also usually heavier than the majority of other types of extinguisher.

It is becoming more common for organisations to purchase water extinguishers that have additives in the liquid, also referred to under the brand name of Hydrospray. These extinguishers have some advantages over more traditional water canisters, as the additives increase the effectiveness of the extinguishing agent by up to 300%, which also means the canisters can be smaller. A 3 litre water additive canister has the same 13A rating as a 9 litre water version. The additives work by making the water ‘stickier’ than normal, so it can stick to and soak the burning material more effectively. There are also some components in the additives that make this type of extinguisher similar to the ingredients in foam extinguishers.

Water additive extinguishers can also be used on electrical fires if the nozzle is kept more than 1 metre away (although it is always ideal to isolate any electrical system before using this type of extinguisher). As these extinguishers are lighter, this makes them easier to lift and operate, although traditional water canisters are far from becoming obsolete yet.

Category: Fire Extinguisher Types