A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection
device used to extinguish or control a fire, often in
emergency situations. Typically, a fire extinguisher
consists of a handheld cylindrical pressure vessel
containing an agent which can be discharged to extinguish a
The typical steps for operating a fire extinguisher (described by
the acronym "PASS") are the following:
P - Pull the safety pin.
A - Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, from a safe distance.
S - Squeeze the handles.
S - Sweep the extinguisher from side to side while aiming at the
base of the fire
There are various types of extinguishers, which are used for
of fires; using the wrong type can increase
the fire hazard and be hazardous, but using
the right one can better the situation.
Only attack the fire if you are trained and it is safe to do so.
The modern fire extinguisher was invented by British Captain George
William Manby in
consisted of a copper vessel of 3 gallons (13.6 litres) of pearl ash
(potassium carbonate) solution contained within compressed air.
The soda-acid extinguisher was invented in the 19th century, which
contained a cylinder of 1 or 2 gallons of water with sodium
bicarbonate mixed into it. A vial was suspended in the cylinder
acid. Depending on the type of extinguisher, the vial of acid could
be broken in one of two ways. One used a plunger to break the acid
vial, while the second released a lead bung that held the vial
closed. Once the acid was mixed with the bicarbonate solution,
gas was expelled and thereby pressurizes the water. The pressurized
water was forced from the canister through a nozzle or short length
Around 1912 Pyrene invented the carbon tetrachloride or CTC
extinguisher, which expelled the liquid from a brass or chrome
container by a hand pump; it was usually of 1 imperial quart (1.1 L)
or 1 imperial pint (0.6 L) capacity but was also available in up to
2 imperial gallon (9 L) sizes. The CTC vapourised and extinguished
the flames by chemical reaction. The extinguisher was suitable for
liquid and electrical fires, and was popular in motor vehicles for
the next 60 years. The vapour and combustion by-products were highly
toxic, and could cause death in confined spaces.
A fire extinguisher may emit a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical.
Notes: Installation of fire extinguishers in vehicles & pleasure
craft must be in accordance with NZS 4503 Page 34 3.10 and Page 35
Fire extinguishers are typically fitted in buildings at an
easily-accessible location, such as against a wall in a high-traffic
area. They are also often fitted to motor vehicles, water and
aircraft - this is required by law in many jurisdictions, for
identified classes of vehicles. Under NFPA 10 all commercial
vehicles must carry at least one fire extinguisher (size/UL rating
depending on type of vehicle and cargo (i.e. fuel tanker typically
must have a 20lb. when most others can carry a 5lb.).
A fire extinguisher
fitted to the passenger seat of a car.
An empty fire extinguisher which was
not replaced for years.
Most countries in the world require regular fire extinguisher
maintenance by a competent person;
this will allow fire equipment to” operate
safely and effectively, as part of the requirements under NZS 4503.
of maintenance can lead to an extinguisher not discharging when
required, or rupturing when pressurized. Deaths have occurred, even
in recent times, from corroded extinguishers exploding.
Fire Extinguishers are maintained in accordance with NZS 4503
section 6. All Inspection and maintenance of hand held operating
equipment with the exception of monthly checks must be carried out
by a competent person.
Basic Service: All types of extinguisher require a basic
inspection annually to check operational condition as required
(page 52 table 6.2 item 6.2.1).
Extended Service: Wet Chemical & Foam Type Fire Extinguishers
require a 3 yearly service. This includes a more detailed
examination including a test discharge of the extinguisher &
recharging if satisfactory.
5 yearly Pressure Testing: All Fire Extinguishers are subject to
pressure vessel safety legislation and must be hydraulically
pressure tested & date stamped or labeled every 5 years.
Fire hose reels
are located to provide a reasonably accessible and controlled
supply of water to combat a potential fire
risk. The length of a fully extended fire hose is between 18 and 36
meters with a diameter of 13 or 19mm Internal Diameter. These
appliances are designed to deliver, as a minimum, 0.33ltrs of water
per second. A control nozzle attached to the end of the hose enables
the operator to control the direction and flow of water to the fire.
All fire hose reels come with a unique ball or gate valve shut off
device, a plastic or solid brass hose reel nozzle,
and mounting bracket.
Note: Fire Hose reels are manufactured to comply with AS/NZS 1221
and are maintained in accordance with NZS 4503. Frequencies of
Inspections are on a monthly and yearly basis.
reels located in buildings are to be used by building occupants to
fight fire, especially when they are trapped and cannot escape to an
fire hoses are connected to the mains water supply, or Fire Systems
Feeds, and extend up to 36 metres. Some fire hose reels are located
in cabinets whilst others are visible on the wall in fire cells.
They require appropriate signage indicating their
location and fuel risk suitability.
Fire hose reels are all very similar in operation. This is
the generic procedure:
Ensure the nozzle or jet is in the closed position
Turn on the main valve (some will not let the nozzle out until
this is done)
Pull the hose off the drum, towards the fire
Open the nozzle or valve and direct the stream of water at the
Only use on Class A fuels.
Canvas fire hoses attached to or adjacent to fire
hydrant points are installed only for use by the Fire Brigade, or an
Emergency Response Team. They must not be used
by untrained personnel as injury or excessive property damage may
Maintenance of Hose Reels
For the maintenance of hose reels, monthly checks may be
carried out by the building owner. It is mandatory under NZS 4503
that annual checks are carried out by a competent person.