Water fire extinguishers are extremely common this is because they are the cheapest to buy, replace and refill. Using water as the extinguishing agent is cost effective, good for the environment and safe because they don’t release any toxic agents just water.
Who should use them?
Water fire extinguishers are commonly found in shops and warehouses, due to the high level of packaging, paper, wood and fabric in the stock.
However, many other businesses choose to have a water fire extinguisher present simply because they will be cheaper to use and replace than multi-class extinguishers.
How do they work?
Remember the fire triangle? Fires need heat, fuel and oxygen. Water fire extinguishers work by cooling the fire down, thus removing heat from the combustion. One of the key benefits of water fire extinguishers is reducing the likelihood of re-ignition.
What about water additive fire extinguishers?
These extinguishers have a special additive chemical in the water. This additive increases the flame knock-down rate. So if you have a water extinguisher and water additive fire extinguisher that are the same size, the water fire extinguisher will have a higher fire rating, and will therefore be able to fight a larger fire more effectively. However water additive fire extinguishers are more expensive to buy and refill.
Don’t use water extinguishers on electrical appliances
Don’t use water fire extinguishers on electrical appliances; remember, water and electricity do not mix well.
Don’t use water extinguishers on hot fat fires
Water and cooking oil/grease don’t mix either. Use a water extinguisher to fight a kitchen fire, and you’ll simply end up spreading it further.
Don’t use water extinguishers on flammable liquid fires
Water and liquids don’t mix either, again the water will act as an accelerant spreading the fire.
How to recognise them
Water fire extinguishers can be easily identified by their white label and red writing. Water additive fire extinguishers use the converse colours; a red label with white writing.