Photo: Photo AI Generated
Given the incident in Ipoh back in 2021, it’s reasonable to wonder, “Can a fire extinguisher explode?”.
Fire extinguishers are pillars of safety in Malaysian households, workplaces, and public areas, helping to protect lives and property from the devastating impact of fires.
However, their reputation for reliability has been clouded by persistent concerns about the possibility of these devices exploding.
This article sifts through the myths to provide you with accurate and vital information about fire extinguisher safety in Malaysia.
What Do Fire Extinguishers Do in Malaysia?
Fires start when three components of the fire triangle come together: oxygen, heat, and fuel.
In such situations, fire extinguishers are essential tools that you can use to suppress fires by simply removing the safety pin.
Their primary function is to eliminate one of these three elements. Therefore, when dealing with fire problems, it’s crucial to understand the different types of fires.
However, sometimes, using just one type of fire extinguisher isn’t sufficient or doesn’t work at all.
That’s why there are various types of fire extinguishers available, each designed for specific classes of fires.
For example, carbon dioxide (CO₂) extinguishers are excellent for extinguishing electrical fires. This highlights the importance of selecting the appropriate extinguisher for a specific fire-fighting situation.
The Truth: Can a Fire Extinguisher Explode?
Incidents of fire extinguishers exploding in Malaysia are not just rare; they are almost unheard of.
This is because manufacturers adhere to strict safety measures when creating these devices, significantly reducing any risk associated with their use.
These fire extinguishers undergo testing and must obtain SIRIM and BOMBA approvals before they can be distributed.
Why Would a Fire Extinguisher Explode in Malaysia?
Fire Extinguisher Refilling Procedure
While the likelihood is low, understanding the contributing factors for a fire extinguisher to explode is crucial. Here are the issues:
Over-pressurisation is often the chief culprit behind fire extinguisher explosions.
When the pressure exceeds a certain level (usually 1200 psi or higher), there’s a chance the extinguisher can burst.
But, this is unlikely unless it’s filled incorrectly or exposed to very high heat for an extended period.
If you’re an e-hailing car driver, there’s generally no need to worry about your fire extinguisher exploding.
This is because the heat inside a car is unlikely to cause it to explode or affect its quality.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that PUSPAKOM mandates e-hailing car drivers to have a 1 kg fire extinguisher onboard.
2. Physical Damage
Any visible dents, punctures, or scratches should immediately raise alarms. Physical damage can compromise the structural integrity of the fire extinguisher, making it susceptible to failure.
If an extinguisher has been mishandled, dropped, or knocked over, it should be inspected by professionals to assess its condition.
In Malaysia’s humid conditions, corrosion becomes a significant concern, especially for older fire extinguishers. Moreover, proximity to heat sources and chemicals accelerates corrosion as well.
Corroded areas weaken the metal canister, making it less capable of containing internal pressure, hence making it prone to exploding.
4. Exposure to Extreme Temperatures
Fire extinguishers are generally built to withstand a range of temperatures, but extreme temperatures can be problematic.
It’s important to note that fire extinguishers generally become hazardous when exposed to temperatures above 572°F (300°C).
Fire Extinguisher Safety & Preventative Measures in Malaysia
Photo: FIREXT (Website)
In Malaysia, general safety and targeted preventative measures are important for reducing the risk of a fire extinguisher exploding. Here are key components that require attention:
1. Adhering to BOMBA Regulations
BOMBA provides a regulatory framework for the installation and inspection of fire extinguishers.
According to the Malaysian Fire Protection Guidebook, fire extinguishers should be positioned near escape routes and kept highly visible to people.
Moreover, they must not be situated more than 20 metres away from a potential fire hazard.
2. Importance of Regular Maintenance
Regularly inspecting for signs of wear, tear, or corrosion is crucial to stay prepared for unexpected fires.
These routine checks can also be performed by individuals responsible for building safety, and they include:
- Ensuring the safety pin is in place and properly secured.
- Verifying that the cylinder body is free from rust.
- Checking the expiration date of the fire extinguisher BOMBA License, which is valid for a one-year period.
Palcon: Providing Certified Fire Extinguishers in Malaysia
Although the idea of a fire extinguisher exploding may evoke concern, the risk is negligible when proper precautions are observed.
By remaining vigilant of regular maintenance, proper storage, and prompt attention to any signs of wear or damage, you ensure that your fire extinguisher remains a trustworthy asset in fire safety.