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How to Use a Foam Fire Extinguisher

28 April 2021

How to Use a Foam Fire Extinguisher

The safe and proper usage of a fire extinguisher is a crucial element of fire safety. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all fire extinguisher; there are various types of extinguisher, each one designed to combat certain classes of fire. For this reason, Fire & Security Group have created a guide for each type, and in this piece we’re going to outline how to operate a foam fire extinguisher


What is a Foam Fire Extinguisher?

A foam fire extinguisher can be identified by a cream coloured band. As made clear by the name, the extinguishers contain a thick foam which builds up on the fire, cutting off its oxygen supply. 


What Fires can a Foam Extinguisher be used on?

Foam fire extinguishers are designed for use on two different classes of fire:

Class A – Fires involving wood, textiles, soft furnishings and paper

Class B – Fires involving flammable liquids like petrol and paint

You must not use a foam fire extinguisher on flowing liquid fires; this is because the foam cannot seal off the fire and suffocate it. 


How do Foam Fire Extinguishers work?

Foam fire extinguishers are quite recognisable in the way they work – jets of foam are expelled, creating a white blanket of sorts. When used, the foam forms a sort of seal over the fire, which prevents oxygen from getting to it. The fire is suffocated, it cannot grow, and it is extinguished. 


How do I use a Foam Fire Extinguisher?

As with all extinguishers, you should abide by the PASS system when operating a foam fire extinguisher. We’ll go through it here. 

Please only attempt to extinguish small fires and keep a safe distance when doing so. If the fire is out of control, or if you have doubts about your ability to extinguish it, evacuate the building immediately and call the fire brigade. Don’t risk your life and the lives of others by trying to extinguish a fire that is too big or fierce.


The PASS system is as follows:

P – Pull the pin

Remove the pin from the extinguisher. This unlocks it, meaning you can depress the lever to deploy the foam – the fire extinguisher won’t work unless you’ve removed the pin. 

A – Aim

You should aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Avoid the temptation to spray the foam directly at the burning liquid – this can result in splashing, which can in turn result in burns. 

S – Squeeze

Aim at the base of the fire and squeeze the lever. Do this firmly but carefully – you don’t want to waste the foam inside the extinguisher. Ensure there’s a steady amount of foam coming out, but don’t be too aggressive. 

S – Sweep

Once you’ve found the right pressure on the lever, use a sweeping motion to cover the area of the fire. This allows the foam to create a comprehensive blanket, sealing the fire and preventing oxygen from getting to it. 

The correct usage of a foam fire extinguisher will comfortably eliminate a Class A or Class B fire. Be sure that the fire is fully extinguished before leaving the site unattended. 

Fire & Security Group are trusted providers of fire extinguishers of all kinds, installing them in commercial properties around the country. Our extinguishers are British Standard-kitemarked and BS5306-3-compliant, so you can be absolutely sure of their quality. We also offer fire risk assessments and fire safety training to help you keep your property safe and ensure your staff can operate fire extinguishers safely. Contact us today to find out more.


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