The carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is a staple in our portable extinguisher line up at All Florida Fire Equipment. Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2 is a natural, colorless, odorless gas. Along with the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a vital part of life on earth, it is also an effective fire-extinguishing agent.
The carbon dioxide fire extinguisher contains carbon dioxide gas or ( CO2) and is defined by a few unique characteristics. For starters, CO2 fire extinguishers are designed for very specific hazards. In addition, carbon dioxide operates at a much higher pressure than the average extinguisher. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are also one of the only two types whose agent is self-expelling.
Carbon Dioxide Used as an Extinguishing Agent
Extinguishers containing carbon dioxide are used on Class B fires (flammable liquid), and Class B fires in conjunction with Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires.
CO2 is effective as an extinguishing agent because it lowers the oxygen level to such an extent that combustion is no longer possible. CO2 acts inertly to lower the oxygen in the space it occupies, and oxygen is required for combustion to occur. Once a fire is successfully extinguished using carbon dioxide, you should continue the discharge onto the burn surface as CO2 has a cooling effect and its continued use will help prevent a from reignite
Because CO2 gas is so ‘light,’ the range of the CO2 discharge is restricted by air currents and easily dissipated. It should be used at a safe but close distance.
CO2 extinguishers are most effective when directed at the base of a fire or overhead. If carbon dioxide is being concentrated at the base of a fire, the operator should sweep the extinguisher back and forth starting at the closest edge and move to the farthermost corner.
The overhead method is a technique that is unique to the carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. The overhead approach involves discharging the CO2 above the fire with the discharge horn aimed at a 45-degree angle toward the center. This causes the carbon dioxide discharge to concentrate centermost and plume out towards the outer edges. When using CO2 extinguishers on flammable liquid spill fires, the base method should be used.
Carbon dioxide works by being kept under high pressures (in excess of 850 psi). When carbon dioxide is under such immense pressure, it liquefies making it self-expelling as it is under its own pressure. When a CO2 extinguisher is discharged, the carbon dioxide rapidly changes from a liquid back into its gaseous form expanding and directed through the discharge horn of the extinguisher. This process allows for the fire and the surrounding space to be permeated with carbon dioxide.
Carbon Dioxide vs. Ammonium Phosphate
There are two reasons for using carbon dioxide as opposed to using mono-ammonium phosphate on a fire involving electrical equipment. The mono-ammonium phosphate agent, found in most extinguishers, will damage electrical equipment and makes a devastating mess. Carbon dioxide gas is not abrasive or corrosive on sensitive electrical components and makes no mess. CO2 does not conduct electricity; however, when using a carbon dioxide extinguisher for electrical equipment fires, it is advised to de-energize the equipment to avoid re-ignition.
All Florida Fire Equipment services and recharges all types of carbon dioxide containers, including fire extinguishers, recreational CO2 products such as paintball guns, beverage-dispensing cylinders, and any other product that uses CO2 cartridges. We can also do hydrostatic testing of your CO2 equipment, and our mobile units can come to your location.
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