Should you use a powder extinguisher indoors?
Probably the most common fire extinguisher sold in the UK is the dry powder fire extinguisher. They are multi-purpose and can be used on solid, liquids, gasses and electrical fires.
They are seen as a cost saving fire extinguisher (e.g. why have two extinguishers when you can have just one?)
The powder fire extinguisher is very good at what it does. It is great on fuels and especially running fuels, it has a very fast knock-down effect to quickly extinguish flames and remove the oxygen from the fire. It is safe to use on electrical fires and is unique at tackling gas fires such as propane.
However I find it incredible that these extinguishers are found in areas such as kitchens, offices, clothing establishments and even healthcare centres. They can contaminate food, destroy electrical equipment such as computers, ruin clothing and cause difficulty in breathing as seen above in the image.
One of the major disadvantages powder fire extinguishers can cause is poor visibility. When set off, a hanging cloud quickly develops and inhibits breathing and visibility.
In many cases it’s probably best to use either a foam extinguisher or CO2 extinguisher as these do a very good job at tackling fires but do so without the mess and problems that powder extinguishers can cause.
Ideally powder extinguishers should only be installed in factory type buildings, outside or areas that are open. They should only be installed should your fire risk assessment deem it necessary.