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garage fire safety

Garage Fires: Choosing the Right Extinguisher

Picture the perfect Saturday; spending time in your garage, tinkering with your favorite car, and drinking a cold beer. Suddenly, a fire breaks out near a cabinet filled with chemicals and paint cans. You need to act fast, but all you have is half a can of brew and the shirt on your back.

It’s times like these you wish you had bought a fire extinguisher for your garage.

Types of Fires and Fire Extinguishers

Even though our steel structures are resilient enough to survive a fire, the property you store inside of them likely won’t make it. According to the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, it’s important to understand the different types of fires and how each one should be dealt with before you go out and purchase a fire extinguisher for your garage.

  • Class A Fire – these are fueled by ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, cloth, plastic, and trash.
  • Class B Fire – flammable liquids including gasoline, oil, and paint are the source of these fires. This class also encompasses flammable gases such as propane and butane.
  • Class C Fire – these fires involve energized electrical equipment such as appliances, motors, or transformers. By removing the power source, a Class C fire will become one of the other classes of fire.
  • Class D Fire – these fires are caused by combustible metals including potassium, sodium, aluminum, and magnesium.
  • Class K Fire – usually kitchen fires, these are caused by cooking oils and greases.

For each fire, there is a fire extinguisher designed to suppress a blaze. Certain types of fire extinguishing agents can be used on more than one class of fire. It is important to use the correct extinguisher for the type of fuel – using the incorrect agent can allow the fire to re-ignite after apparently being extinguished successfully.

garage fire safety

  • Water and Foam – these types of extinguishers work by taking away the heat element of the fire triangle using water and by separating the oxygen element from other elements with foam agents. These types of fire extinguishers are for Class A fires only.
  • Carbon Dioxide – these take away the oxygen element of the fire triangle and also remove heat with a very cold discharge. These extinguishers should be used on Class B and Class C fires.
  • Dry Chemical – extinguish the fire by interrupting the chemical reaction of the fire triangle. Today’s most widely used type of fire extinguisher is the multipurpose dry chemical that is effective on Class A, B, and C fires. This agent also works by creating a barrier between the oxygen element and the fuel element on Class A fires. Ordinary dry chemical is for Class B and C fires only. 
  • Wet Chemical – these are relatively new and work by removing the heat of the fire triangle and prevents re-ignition by creating a barrier between the oxygen and fuel elements. Wet chemical of Class K extinguishers were developed for modern, high efficiency deep fat fryers in commercial cooking operations. Some may also be used on Class A fires in commercial kitchens.
  • Dry Powder – these are similar to dry chemical extinguishers, except they extinguish a fire by separating the fuel from the oxygen or by removing the heat element of the fire triangle. Dry powder extinguishers are for Class D fires only.
  • Water Mist – these are also a recent development and work by using water to remove the heat element of the fire triangle. These are an alternative to scenarios where contamination from other extinguishing agents may be an issue. Water mist extinguishers are primarily used for Class A fires, but they are also safe for use on Class C fires as well.

It is best to select a fire extinguisher that is designed to suppress the type of fire you are most likely to encounter in your garage. Making a simple purchase now could save you lots of headaches – or worse – during the event of a fire emergency.

Keep Your Garage Safe

Understanding and practicing fire safety is usually common sense. However, sometimes common sense gets the better of you and a fire breaks out in your garage, barn, or workshop. It may not be your fault, but it’s certainly your responsibility to try and snuff it out before your property goes up in smoke. Buying a fire extinguisher is a small investment that can go a very long way in the event of an emergency. If you’re looking to buy a steel garage, barn, carport, or workshop from Elephant, be sure to protect that investment with the right fire safety equipment. Our buildings can last for decades and buying a fire extinguisher makes it possible to enjoy yours for as long as possible.

For more information on our steel structures, give us a call today. You can speak with one of our expert consultants about designing your own custom steel garage and even set up on on-site consultation at your property! With affordable prices and financing available, there’s never been a better time to buy steel with Elephant Structures.

About the Author

Nick mason