About Fire Extinguishers
by Chuck (westyman71 at yahoo.com)
Not only am I a long-time VW owner (29 years), I
have been a career firefighter for the last 23 years. Here's some
information on these.
Most fire extinguishers out there are the "dry chemical" type. They
have a powder (usually monoammonium phosphate) that interferes with
the chemical chain reaction to put out the fire. All extinguishers
are rated by their ability to put out different types of fires.
The typical 10 pound dry chemical extinguisher out
there is rated 4A, 60B, C. This means that when used by Joe
Citizen, it will put out 4 square feet of ordinary combustibles, 60
square feet of flammable liquids, and can be used on energized
electrical equipment. It also means that when tested by
Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Factory Mutual (FM) or other
testing organizations, the expert is able to put out 4 times the
coverage area it is rated for.
- "A" is ordinary combustibles (wood,
- "B" is flammable liquids (gasoline)
- "C" is safe to use on energized electrical
- "D" is flammable metals (sodium, magnesium,
A couple of things: 1) Flowing, burning flammable liquids won't be
put out. So kill the fuel pump (ignition) so the fuel flow stops.
It can reflash without warning, so be alert. 2) The powder gets
everywhere!!! If the powder gets into sensitive electronic stuff
(computers), it is usually toast anyway.
Hope this helps,
- Buy a nice sized one with a metal body and
head. The previously described 10 pound model works pretty
- Firmly mount or secure the extinguisher, as
these things are not too cool if you have an accident -- they make
- They should be pressure tested every 6 years by
a certified shop.
- Every once in a while, take it and turn it
upside down to "unsettle" the powder.
- If the pressure has leaked off out of the
green, get it serviced. As long as it is still sealed and the
pressure is up, they stay good for a long, long time.
- If you use it, get it recharged.
- If getting a recharge, call around, as prices
can vary a lot. Sometimes it is just cheaper to buy a new
- Mount the extinguisher within reach if
possible. You don't want to be climbing around the back of a Bus,
looking for an extinguisher, when the Bus is on fire.