A fire extinguisher is always a reassuring piece of equipment to have close by when working in your garage, and can save your life should the worst comes to pass. However, this only applies if you have chosen the right fire extinguisher for fighting the type of fire(s) you encounter, and the average home garage is filled with a diverse array of potentially flammable materials.
Trying to extinguish the wrong fire with the wrong extinguisher (for example, fighting a petrol fire with a conventional water extinguisher) can be counterproductive and extremely dangerous to the extinguisher operator, so keeping a range of different fire extinguisher types in your garage is the best way to increase your garage fire safety against any and all potential fire hazards. The following extinguishers are ideally suited for use in your home garage:
These fire extinguishers are capable of safely tackling Class A fires, started by flammable woods, papers, plastics and rubbers. They are therefore only capable of fighting the same types of fires as conventional water extinguishers, but foam extinguishers represent a more sensible choice for your garage as the foam can be applied with precision and cleaned up relatively easily. This prevents over-enthusiastic extinguishing attempts from causing extensive water damage inside your garage, and reduces the likelihood of damage to electrical equipment and components.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers
Your weapon of choice when dealing with electrical fires, carbon dioxide extinguishers emit a cone of pressurised carbon dioxide that snuffs out fires by depriving them of oxygen.
They are quick and effective to use, but what sets them apart from other extinguishers used for electrical fires is that they leave no extinguishing materials or residue behind. This serves to minimise cleanup and prevents damage to other electrical components in your garage. You should bear in mind, however, that carbon dixoide extinguishers can be lethal in poorly-ventilated areas, so only opt for these extinguishers if your garage is comparatively well ventilated.
Dry chemical extinguishers
The jack-of-all-trades of the fire extinguisher world, dry chemical extinguishers emit a fine, flameproof powder that collects on the surfaces of flammable materials to snuff out fires and embers. They can be used on class A fires, electrical fires, and can also be safely used to tackle fires caused by flammable liquids such as engine oil.
If space or money constraints prevent you from using more than one type of extinguisher, the sheer versatility of dry chemical extinguishers makes them the perfect choice for all-round fire protection in your garage. However, these extinguishers are just as useful when kept around purely for fighting liquid fires. Be aware that dry chemical extinguishers can be 'messy', and you may have to spend some time cleaning up powder deposits from your garage once the fire is safely extinguished.