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A guide to Automatic Fire Extinguishers

Automatic fire extinguishers are ones that will automatically start fighting a fire without being manually activated.

Where do they go?

Automatic extinguishers are ideal for rooms that are: • Unmanned • High risk • Contain expensive or sensitive machinery Typically, they’re used in engine rooms; boat engine compartments; computer and telecoms cabinets; places storing agricultural equipment… get the idea. In all of these locations, if a fire were to break out it’d have already grown out of control by the time you discovered it or came to fight it. Or worse, you’d be physically unable to use a fire extinguisher due to space restrictions. An automatic fire extinguisher is the perfect solution in all of these situations; it will be able to start fighting a fire faster than you can.

How do they work?

Automatic fire extinguishers detect a fire with a heat-sensitive glass bulb. These glass bulbs contain a liquid that expands when heated. Once the heat rises to the extinguisher’s operating temperature, the liquid will have expanded enough to burst the bulb, allowing the extinguisher to start releasing its contents.

Main benefits

• You have more time to escape the building • Fires are kept at bay, making them easier for firefighters to tackle • You don’t have to be in reach of the fire to fight in • Less damage is done to electrical extinguishers What are clean agent automatic extinguishers? You can buy clean agent fire extinguishers, which release a non-harmful firefighting agent. Some businesses choose them for environmental reasons, but another main benefit of them is that they won’t damage sensitive electrical devices.

Should you use an automatic Halon fire extinguisher?

They short answer is probably not. Halon used to be the automatic fire extinguisher of choice for most businesses. However, they were found to be lethal and actually caused a number of deaths. Safer alternatives were found in 1947, in the form of Halon 1211 and Halon 1301, but were found to deplete the ozone layer. As a result, production ceased. On the most part, it is now illegal to use these extinguishers, although there are some exceptions – aircrafts, for instance can carry them. If you see an extinguisher described as a new Halon replacement, they should be safe to use just make sure they carry all of the relevant approvals, marks and certificates.

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