How fire extinguishers work

To fight fire, first you need to understand what makes it burn. There are three main components that help keep a fi re going: fuel, oxygen and heat. Fuels can be any kind of combustible or flammable material. When extreme heat is applied to this fuel, a chemical reaction takes place with the oxygen in the air. 

This chemical reaction produces water, carbon dioxide, other waste gases and a lot of heat. In order to put fi res out, one or more of the three main components needs to be removed. If you can cut off oxygen to the fire, it will stop burning – that’s why covering a burning pan with a fire blanket puts out the flames. Making the fuel cold will also work, which is why throwing water on a small fire will usually put it out. And if you stop adding fuel to a fire then it eventually burns itself out.

Fire extinguishers work well because they remove one or two of these components from the fire. There are different kinds of extinguishers depending on the type of fire you’re fighting. Using the right one is important, as is knowing the science behind how they work.

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