The internet is a treasure trove of information on remodeling kitchens. If you have ever wanted to give your kitchen a makeover, you are not wanting for details on how to pull it off.
Interestingly though, few kitchen remodel articles talk about fire extinguishers. That’s a shame because fire extinguishers can help put out minor fires before they become major.
Are you thinking about remodeling your kitchen? If so, have you thought about adding a least one fire extinguisher to the space? You should. According to the London Fire Brigade, 60% of all residential structure fires begin in the kitchen. In fact, residential fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the house.
For that reason alone, every kitchen remodel should include at least one fire extinguisher. The extinguishers should be mounted at a location easily accessible to every member of the family. Furthermore, each member of the family should be instructed in the proper use of said fire extinguisher.
Different Classes of Fire Extinguishers
It is important to note that fire safety experts in the UK recognized six different classes of fire along with six different types of fire extinguishers.
Fires are classified into the following categories:
• Class A – Fires involving freely burning materials
• Class B – Fires involving flammable liquids
• Class C – Fires involving flammable gases
• Class D – Fires involving flammable metals
• Electrical Fires – Fires involving electrical appliances
• Class F – Fires involving combustible kitchen substances.
The six different kinds of fire extinguishers are appropriate to different kinds of fires. The most common of all fire extinguishers is the ABC powder extinguisher.
Fire safety experts recommend this particular type most often. It is the kind of extinguisher they recommend for typical home use. It gets its name from the fact that the powder within is effective for class A, B, and C fires.
CO2 fire extinguishers are sometimes assumed to be the most appropriate for kitchen use because of the way they fight the fire. However, they are not the best choice for kitchens. CO2 extinguishers are usually reserved for buildings and individual rooms were sensitive electronic equipment is found.
In addition to ABC and CO2 fire extinguishers, there are four more types:
• AFF Foam – Ideal for fires involving solid combustible materials
• Water – Best for fighting solid combustible fuel fires involving things like wood and paper
• Wet Chemical – Ideal for extinguishing large chemical fires, they are often deployed in commercial kitchens
• Water Mist – An appropriate choice for buildings in which multiple types of fire are possible.
It is possible to install a wet chemical fire extinguisher in a residential kitchen. Still, an ABC extinguisher is more appropriate because it is effective against three types of fires. A typical residential kitchen fire does not rise to the level of keeping a separate Class F extinguisher on hand.
How ABC Extinguishers Work
Fire extinguishers work in one of several ways. For example, a CO2 fire extinguisher introduces carbon dioxide into the environment.
Oxygen molecules bind to the CO2, thus robbing the fire of fuel. ABC fire extinguishers do something similar, but in a different way. They rob an active fire of oxygen by smothering whatever is burning.
Imagine a kitchen fire involving cooking oil that ignites on the stove. Douse the burning oil with ABC powder and you prevent oxygen from getting to the fire. By smothering the oil, you are robbing the fire of the oxygen it needs to burn.
In the old days, before fire extinguishers were recommended for residential use, kitchen fires were fought with salt and baking soda. A grease fire on the stove would be attacked by dumping one of the two substances on it. The salt or baking soda would smother the fire the same way an ABC power does.
How Fire Spreads So Rapidly
The whole point of having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is to keep a minor fire from spreading. Rest assured that fire spreads very quickly in residential settings.
There are lots of materials in a typical home capable of igniting within minutes, if not seconds. When that happens, fire can kill.
There are three ways fire spreads: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction occurs when the burning fire spreads by igniting other materials directly adjacent to it. Lighting a candle with a match is an example of conduction. The fire spreads from match to candle when the two are brought into contact.
Convection occurs when heat from a fire cannot escape a room and thus builds up inside. Internal temperatures increase until materials in the room (window treatments, wall coverings, etc.) reach combustion temperature and then ignite.
Conduction and convection explain why residential fires spread so rapidly. A small fire on the stove can get out of hand within minutes, eventually engulfing the entire kitchen. The rest of the house can soon follow. And now you know why every kitchen remodel should include at least one fire extinguisher.