When you consider all of the tools and equipment that an apparatus carries, one of the most basic and often overlooked are fire extinguishers. Modern day pumpers with 2000 gpm rated pumps, large diameter supply line and rat preconnected attack lines are all important tools in our firefighting arsenal. Not every incident requires the application of these tools, but at every run someone on the crew should be responsible for leading off with at least a 2.50-gallon water extinguisher and some type of hand tool.
Fire extinguishers have in some cases been relegated to the back porch in our fire suppression tactics. You just have to look around the apparatus to see where the different types of agent extinguishers are carried to see how often they are utilized by a department. What is equally important is how the extinguishers are mounted, not only to permit rapid deployment, but to ensure that the extinguisher is properly secured inside of the cab or body compartment.
At a recent apparatus show, a newly delivered engine had a pressurized water extinguisher mounted inside of a cab. While easily accessible, it was being held in place with a cloth covered bungee cord! This is unsafe and in the event of any type of accident or sudden apparatus braking, this extinguisher is going to become missile and seriously hurt personnel. Speed and efficiency won out over safety, not a good choice.
There are many areas where extinguishers can be mounted and secured, yet be readily accessible from the ground by personnel. In the photo below the department utilized a small compartment built into the rear of the cab to mount forcible entry tools, along with the 2.50-gallon water extinguisher. A self-contained breathing apparatus bracket with PVC coated clamps was used to secure the extinguisher to the rear wall.
Not all extinguishers will easily fit into smaller compartments or in specially designed wheel well compartments. Larger CO2 and Metal-X extinguishers will generally not fit into these areas. If your first due response area requires special extinguishing agents then alternative body locations may be in order. The photo below shows a 30-pound Class D extinguisher along with two, 20 pound CO2 extinguishers mounted inside a body compartment with 9G rated brackets and poly material on the floor to resist damage to the cylinders.
Take a moment to review your department’s inventory of fire extinguishers, look to make sure that they are in good condition, properly mounted and secured and most importantly, train with them!