• Extinguishers: For Safety Sake, Install More Water Extinguishers!


    All buildings need a compliment of portable fire extinguishers as a first line of defense in the event of a fire emergency. Those extinguishers are installed by trained technicians to match the hazards within the building. Since Class A common combustibles exist in all buildings in the form or construction materials, furnishings, and building contents, Class A rated extinguishers are needed throughout buildings. A very effective extinguisher that is often overlooked for these hazards is the pressurized water extinguisher. Here is why 2½ gallon water extinguishers should be installed in more locations in buildings.

    Class A Fire Effectiveness

    Class A fires are fires in common combustible materials, including wood, paper, cloth, trash, and textiles. In the early stages of a fire involving these materials, water is extremely effective in rapidly removing the heat of the fire, to the point that the fire simply cannot exist. The straight stream of water from a water extinguisher has a range of about 40-50 feet and duration of almost a minute. That allows an operator to stand at a safe range and enough time to effectively knock down the fire and extinguish it. Most fires can be completely extinguished by intermittently discharging the water and using the index finger to create a spray pattern. Even a longer-burning, smoldering fire can be effectively extinguished by using the intermittent discharge and spray method, gradually breaking up the materials and ensuring penetration and soaking. In the hands of inexperienced operators, the 55-second discharge time makes these extinguishers a great choice, where the novice user might waste agent during early discharge. There is one precaution: these extinguishers should never be used on oil or electrical appliance fires.

    Specifications and Requirements

    Pressurized water fire extinguishers provide effective and economical protection for almost all Class A common combustible hazards. These extinguishers are easy to recharge with plain water and pressurize with air, using the Schrader valve, located in the extinguisher valve assembly.

    Pressurized Water Fire Extinguishers

    • Fire Type – Class A (Not for Class B or C)
    • Agent Capacity – 2½ gallons
    • UL Rating – 2-A
    • Stream Range – 40-50 ft.
    • Discharge Time – 55 seconds

    Brooks Tech Tip

    Extra hazard occupancies are required to be protected with 4-A rated extinguishers.

    NFPA 10, allows two 2½ gal water extinguishers to be installed to fulfill the requirement of one 4-A rated extinguisher.


    Common applications are offices, schools and universities, hotels and motels, and exhibition halls. The antifreeze model, charged with loaded stream, can be installed in locations where temperatures are as low as −40°F. But plain water extinguishers should never be installed in locations below 40°F.

    The next time you are servicing extinguishers in a building, look for locations where a pressurized water extinguisher would be preferable. Notify the building owner or manager and see if they agree. This type of upgrade is often best from an effectiveness and safety standpoint for many locations.

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    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.