How To Properly Extinguish A Fire

Since the earliest human species first discovered fire it has been a centerpiece of our existence. When under control, a fire can cook food, provide warmth, and be used as a source of light. However, when it is out of control, a fire can be deadly and destructive.

While most people would tell you to use water to put out a fire, they would only be partially right. For example, using water on a fire involving oil would only make matters worse. So, what is the proper way to extinguish a fire before it spreads. 


What A Fire Needs To Continue Burning

Types of Fire And How To Extinguish Them


What A Fire Needs To Continue Burning

In order for a fire to start and continue burning it needs three essential ingredients. For one, it needs a fuel source, such as wood, oil, or other flammable materials. Next it needs oxygen, which is the most readily available ingredient. Finally it needs a source of heat, such as the friction caused when sparking a match. Without one of the three necessary ingredients, a fire will not start or continue. So, in order to put out a fire, you would need to cautiously remove an ingredient. However, not every technique for extinguishing a fire works for every type of fire.

Types of Fires And How To Extinguish Them

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, each type of fire needs to be put out in a certain way in order to properly extinguish it. Otherwise, you could potentially make the fire worse, and create a more hazardous situation. Of course, you should only attempt to put out a fire when it’s small, large fires need the attention of professionals. Always call 9-1-1 if a fire is out of control or if you do not know what to do.

While cooking food, a fire can easily breakout from oils or fats too close to heat sources.

Cooking Fires

Electrical Fires

Wood/ Trash/Waste Fires

Flammable Gas/Oil Fires

Combustible Metal Fires

Home Fire Prevention


Cooking fires:

Cooking fires develop from oils and fats used in cooking. Typically these fires start when a pan with cooking oil/fat is left unattended too over a heat source.  

Extinguish with: Do not use water to put this fire out, as water will make matters worse. Instead use a fire extinguisher, which suffocates the flames.

Electrical Fire:

An electrical fire sparks and usually results from faulty wiring, faulty appliances, overloaded surge protectors and similar incidents. 

Extinguish with: To put out an electrical fire, you should cut off the power source. Once the power source is off, you can use water or a standard fire extinguisher. However, if the power is still on, water and or a foam extinguisher should not be used. Each of those conduct electricity and create an even more dangerous situation. 

Wood/Trash/Waste Fire:

Common materials such as wood and trash often catch fire on accident and spread easily. 

Extinguish with: For these types of fires, you can simply use water or a standard fire extinguisher. However, if you suspect there is an electrical or oil component involved you should avoid using water. 

Gasoline is extremely flammable and should not be put out with water.

Flammable Gas/Oil Fires:

Similar to cooking fires, these fires involve flammable gases or liquids that are not typically involved in cooking.  This is why you see so many warning signs about not smoking while pumping gas into your car.

Extinguish with: To extinguish this type of fire, it needs to be suffocated by a fire extinguisher of any type. 

Combustible Metal Fires:

Lastly, combustible metals such as sodium, aluminum, magnesium and more are uncommon in households. However they are a type of fire worth going over, especially how extinguish them.

Extinguish with: Putting these flames out requires a fire extinguisher and should not be put out with water.

Along with extinguishing a fire, an escape plan is something to discuss with those you live with.

Home Fire Prevention

After taking a look at each type you might want to know how you can prevent one. For one, flammable materials should be carefully used and stored. Keeping flammable materials away from heat sources can prevent an accidental fire from sparking. According to the Ready.gov, a home can be engulfed in flames within minutes of a fire breaking out.

So, installing smoke detectors and keeping a fire extinguisher handy can help in case a fire breaks out. Additionally, it helps to have a plan for escape in case your home does catch fire. Although a house fire is often a devastating event, having a good homeowner’s policy will help you recover. You should consult your homeowner’s insurance provider about your coverage as it pertains to house fires. 

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