Fire extinguishers are devices used to put small fires out before they get out of control. All fire extinguishers use some sort of gas, either as the agent to put out the fire or as a propellant to force a liquid, powder or foam out of the extinguisher.
Carbon dioxide is a gas that will replace the oxygen around a fire to smother it. Carbon dioxide is most effective on liquid and chemical fires. Because it is compressed, it also become very cold, which cools the fire.
Oxygen is used as a propellant for a water extinguisher. The water removes the heat from the fire, but it is only effective on fires burning ordinary combustibles, such as wood or cloth.
Nitrogen is used to pressurize dry chemical extinguishers. These use a foam or powder to extinguish most types of fires, depending on the chemicals being used.
Halon is a gas that interrupts the chemical reaction in a fire. A halon extinguisher is often used to protect valuable or sensitive electrical equipment because it does not leave behind any residue.
Halon extinguishers are no longer made because they can create dangerous gases when extinguishing a fire. Make sure to wear proper respiratory equipment when using a halon extinguisher.
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