Grease fires are dangerous and can easily spread out of control. Unfortunately, normal fire extinguishers aren't up to the task of controlling a grease fire — they'll almost always make the problem worse.
In order to contain a grease fire, you'll need a special type of extinguisher on hand. These are called Class K fire extinguishers, and they're specifically designed to fight grease fires. Read on to find out more about why grease fires pose special challenges and why Class K fire extinguishers can meet them.
Why Are Grease Fires Different From Other Fires?
In order to start a fire, you need to combine heat and oxygen along with a combustible fuel. When a grease fire starts in a pan or in a deep fryer, the grease below the surface isn't receiving oxygen — the fire is contained to the very top layer of grease in the appliance. If you try to put the fire out using water, you'll spread the grease around and bring some of the hot grease underneath the surface to the top, allowing it access to oxygen. You'll end up making the fire much worse.
Similarly, trying to put out a grease fire using a normal fire extinguisher will also spread the grease around and worsen the fire. Class ABC extinguishers emit a high-pressure stream of fire retardant when they're used, which causes the grease to splatter.
In addition, grease fires can also be reignited after they've died down. Some of the grease underneath the surface may be hot enough to combust when it's again exposed to oxygen. If you move the appliance and cause the grease inside to shift, it can bring hot grease to the surface and cause the grease fire to start again.
How Does a Class K Fire Extinguisher Make It Possible to Safely Put Out a Grease Fire?
Class K fire extinguishers are designed specifically to solve the unique problems posed by grease fires. They contain an alkaline solution that reacts chemically with grease in order to create a thin, foamy layer of fire retardant on the surface of the grease. The fire retardant prevents oxygen from reaching the grease, which will stop the fire.
In addition, Class K fire extinguishers use much lower pressure than normal Class ABC extinguishers. There's much less risk of spreading the grease around when you're trying to put out the fire. The chemical reaction created when the alkaline solution makes contact with the grease also releases vapor, which helps to rapidly cool down the grease inside the appliance — this reduces the risk that your grease fire will reignite.
Overall, Class K fire extinguishers are your only choice when you need to put out a grease fire in your kitchen. You should never attempt to put out a grease fire using water or using a normal extinguisher since you'll make the fire much worse. Whenever you're cooking with animal fat or vegetable oil, it's a good idea to have a Class K fire extinguisher close at hand in order to quickly extinguish any grease fire that may occur.
For more information about fire extinguishers, contact a company like Amerisafe.