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How to Use a CO2 Fire Extinguisher

28 April 2021

How to Use a CO2 Fire Extinguisher

There are many facets to fire safety equipment, processes and protocols, and here at Fire & Security Group we’re all too happy to explain them. In this article, we’re going to look into carbon dioxide fire extinguishers – more specifically, we’re going to tell you how to operate them safely in the event of a fire. 


What is a Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher?

A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, as the name suggests, uses carbon dioxide to eliminate fires. These extinguishers are extremely pressurised, and this pressure causes the carbon dioxide to be expelled with significant force.



What kind of Fires can a Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher be used on?

Carbon dioxide extinguishers are designed for use on Class B fires – fires involving flammable liquids – and fires involving electrical equipment. 


How do Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers work?

Different types of fire extinguishers combat fire in different ways; in the case of carbon dioxide extinguishers, the oxygen of the fire is displaced. Without the oxygen, the fire is starved, which means it cannot spread. Additionally, the carbon dioxide itself is very cold so the fire is immediately cooled, reducing the chances of it restarting. 


How to use a Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher

It is crucial that you know how to operate a fire extinguisher if you are to extinguish a fire effectively and safely. At best, improper usage will fail to extinguish the fire; at worst, it can cause injury to you and others, as well as making the fire worse.

It is crucial that you make sure you’re a safe distance from the fire before attempting to extinguish it. Furthermore, you should only attempt to extinguish a fire if it is of manageable size – if you have any doubt about your ability to use the extinguisher or combat the fire, evacuate the building immediately and call the fire brigade.

A helpful way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is the PASS system:

Pull the pin: Remove the pin when you’re ready to use the extinguisher. The extinguisher will remain locked until the pin is removed.

Aim: You must aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, not the top or the middle of the flames. Aiming at the base means the carbon dioxide can displace the oxygen and cool the fuel at the source, so it can take effect quicker. 

Squeeze: Squeeze the handle of the extinguisher to release the substance. This should be done in a controlled manner so as not to waste the extinguishing material inside. As carbon dioxide is released at such a low temperature, it’s not uncommon to see shards of dry ice when you use it.

Sweep: When discharging the fire extinguisher, maintain a sweeping motion to ensure you cover the base of the fire.

As we’ve mentioned, the low temperature of the carbon dioxide should ensure that the fire does not reignite, but you should keep a close eye on the site of the fire to ensure that it is completely extinguished before leaving the area. 

It’s important that you have the right fire extinguishers for the types of fire you’re most susceptible to. At Fire & Security Group, our fire risk assessments allow us to determine what fire extinguishers you need and where you need them, and our expert engineers can install your extinguishers in the optimal locations for quick access when you require them. For more information about our fire risk assessments and fire extinguisher installation, simply contact us today. 


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