While you should always do everything that you can to prevent a fire in your home, you should also know what to do if you discover a fire. You must get everyone out as quickly as possible and call 999.
Should the fire be discovered in the very early stages you may think that you can deal with it yourself. The first thing to remember is that even small fires spread very quickly, producing smoke and fumes which can kill in seconds. If you are in any doubt, do NOT tackle the fire, no matter how small it is.
About fire extinguishers
Whatever type of fire extinguisher you choose, make sure it conforms to the appropriate British Standards (BSEN3 and BS5306). Look for the Kitemark or the special British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) mark.
All new portable fire extinguishers are now colour coded red with a zone of colour which indicates the contents of the extinguisher. This colour indication appears on the front of the extinguisher above the operating instructions and will be clearly visible when it is correctly mounted.
Remember: fire extinguishers must not be used on chip or fat pan fires as the jet from the extinguisher may force burning fat out of the pan.
Types of Fire Extinguisher
Standard Dry Powder or Multi-Purpose Dry Powder - Best for wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal etc.
Water - Water works mainly by cooling burning material.
Best for wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal etc. Fires involving solids.
AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) - This forms a fire extinguishing film on the surface of a burning liquid. It has a cooling action with a wider extinguishing application than water on solid combustible materials. Best for wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coals etc. Fires involving solids. Liquids such as grease, fats, oils, paints, petrol etc (except for chip or fat pan fires).
Fire Blankets - Fire blankets are made of fire resistant material. They are particularly useful for smothering fat pan fires or for wrapping round a person whose clothing is on fire. Fire blankets conforming to BS 6575 are suitable for use in the home and should be kept in the kitchen.