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colin3

kitchen fire extinguishers

colin3
12 years ago

Fire extinguishers came up on the earthquake thread, and I can't find more discussion on the subject on this board, so I thought it deserved its own thread. What is best practice?

Just to start, I've got two, a Kidde sodium bicarbonate extinguisher close to the stove & oven, and a First Alert "multi-purpose" dry chemical extinguisher a few steps farther away, as backup and for other ground-floor needs. Should I be doing anything differently?

Comments (15)

  • Adrienne2011
    12 years ago

    Sounds good to me. Another fire extinguisher is actually on my shopping list right now - I will be picking one up tomorrow. The one we have currently is alright as a back-up, but really it's too dinky.

  • kevinw1
    12 years ago

    If I remember right, the recommendation is to locate the fire extinguisher between the potential fire source and the exit - so you have a place to go if things get out of hand. How does that fit with having several potential fire sources in your kitchen?

    We only currently have one extinguisher, a 2lb ABC dry chemical, at one end of the kitchen, when there really should be another at the other end by the back door.

    Good timing - we were canning today, and just loading full jars into the canner when the rear ring, behind the canner, caught fire! Something in the drip pan, still don't know what, caught fire. Luckily it burnt itself out without lighting anything else in the process. But there's nothing like moving a canner full of boiling water and full jars out of the way... not something I would have done, myself, but DBF would do it.

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  • clg7067
    12 years ago

    For easy stovetop fires, I grab the big salt container in the cabinet right next to the stove. I haven't had one of those in a long time, but the one time I did, I was prepared. I have an all purpose fire extinquisher just behind the door to the laundry.

  • plllog
    12 years ago

    Colin, great idea. It's been a long time since we had a fire extinguisher thread. My extinguisher is the one that says "kitchen" on the box. :)

    Location is key--in my old kitchen it (the old fire extinguisher) lived on the floor between the fridge and oven, at the opening of the G shape.

    In the new kitchen, the new extinguisher is in the little cabinet under the prep sink, which is on the least used side of the island, between the patio door and the stove, and right across from the ovens (though these are electric and not really likely to go up). It's important to get your extinguisher recharged regularly, and replace it when it gets to old to charge.

    I've been lucky enough never to need to use one. The only fire I've had to deal with was a '90's notebook computer, which caught fire on a desk full of papers. I hadn't heard, at that point, that aging batteries could catch fire and I was really lucky that I was right there, and the fire went out as soon as I pulled the plug.

    For me #1 is keeping cloth, alcohol, paper and other combustibles away from open flames. #2 keeping paper, water, flour and junk away from electric sockets. #3 having baking soda and a large pot lid near the stove, and a counter which is easy to dump a hot pot on. #4 having a fire extinguisher nearby, protected, and with nothing else in its way, on the way to the building exit.

  • dee850
    12 years ago

    We've got one under the sink. Now that I'm reading this thread, I'm not sure that's actually the best place. It is close to my range, which I suppose is the likeliest source of fire. But it's in the center of a U, so it's not between the possible fire source and an exit. Hmmm... must think about whether we can find a better spot.

    The only fire I've had in the kitchen was in a toaster oven. You know how crumbs and crud can build up on the bottom of those? That's what caught fire. I believe we threw flour in to put it out.

  • plllog
    12 years ago

    Oooh! Be careful with flour and fire. If a lot of air gets into the flour (or vice versa) it can combust and create a fireball. Even with the baking soda, it's important to dump it down onto the fire rather than tossing it.

  • colin3
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    One of my childhood amusements was making fireballs with flour. Lovely orange color.

    The canister of baking soda is a good idea. Also good to remember how easily kitchen towels, paper or cloth, can catch fire.

  • raro
    12 years ago

    colin3, how exactly do you make a fireball with flour? I always like excitement....

  • suzanne_sl
    12 years ago

    Another thought on having a fire extinguisher - have you ever actually used one? I worked at a private school where the admin arranged a whole class for the staff on using a fire extinguisher. I couldn't believe it, but what the heck? It turned out to be pretty interesting. One surprising thing was how my fellow teachers managed the kind of extinguisher with a hose:

    {{!gwi}}

    Every single person who used that extinguisher sprayed their shoes before spraying the target, even after watching the person beside them do the exact same thing. So that's probably not the kind to get if you only use it for real once in your life. Using this kind

    everyone could hit the target first time out. Also, actually take a look at the top of the thing to see where the pull ring is and a take mental walk through what you'd have to do to make it spray. It's not at all difficult (except for the shoe spray thing), but it does require you to figure it out ahead of time. Another thought: if you have small hands (that would be me) or limited strength (arthritis?), be sure that the extinguisher you choose you can actually use. I frequently find that tools and what-all are designed by Godzilla who figures everyone has baseball mitts for hands. If the squeezy parts of the extinguisher are set so far apart that your thumb and baby finger can't get a grip, you might as well not have the thing. Choose one from a more enlightened manufacturer or go for the kind that has a trigger set not too far from the handle. When you really need a fire extinguisher, you probably won't be in your most calm and analytic frame of mind, so be sure that the design of the equipment itself won't add to or even create feelings of panic.

  • colin3
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Raro: Lighted candle beside a little pile of flour, several feet of flexible tubing. One end of the tubing goes into the pile of flour; you blow sharply into the other to send a cloud of flour into the air, which will ignite. Best with the lights out and, of course, adult supervision.

    A little bit like a grain elevator explosion. Reminds you how many things will burn, given the chance.

    Great points from Suzannesl re practice and design. It's almost worth buying an extra extinguisher to practice with. The foot-high, 4 or 5 pound ones sold for kitchen use seem about right for easy grabbing and pointing, though you wonder about capacity.

    Wow, try searching youtube for "kitchen fire" -- much terrifying video e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KhvMsK7i90

  • aliris19
    12 years ago

    Also, if you're like me, time goes by in a snap and before you know it, your extinguisher is outdated. Do check the pressure gauge on those things, everyone.

    Also, if you have little kids in schools looking for field trips, suggest and chaperone them on a trip to the fire station. Ask for a demo with house extinguishers. It's really good practice - just like suzanne suggests. That thing blasts more than you'd expect, and in a scary situation one's presence of mind is often hard to retain. Advance practice helps.

    I got to try the big-boys' hose on one of those field trips! Actually, it was the littlest-boys' big hose and that thing is a major doozy.

  • plllog
    12 years ago

    Colin, the point of the little kitchen extinguishers is that they fit where they'll actually be needed and they're just the right size for a pot or small appliance that catches fire, easy to lift and easy to use. A lot of times, the bigger, "better" extinguishers don't even make it into the kitchen because "there isn't room", and if they do, they have one of those need practice problems Suzanne pointed out. If you have a bigger kitchen fire than you can put out with one of those, get out and call the fire department. There is so much in a kitchen that is combustible, and so many ways into the walls, the whole house can go up before you know it. Better to save yourself and your family than die trying to save the house.

  • dee850
    12 years ago

    Wow, I had no idea about the flour-fireball potential! Maybe it was baking soda or salt we used that time, it was definitely some standard pantry item that didn't create a fireball. I will certainly keep this in mind for the future!

  • plllog
    12 years ago

    Dee850, salt is a good one if you have sufficient quantity. Might make a terrible mess but it doesn't burn. :)

  • carybk
    12 years ago

    In college my freshman year, the guys used to drop small paper bags full of flour down the stairwell and drop a lighted match after them.

    Good times.