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Subject: Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers

From: Gregor Trinkaus-Randall <gregor.trinkaus-randall>
Date: Friday, May 15, 1998
I have not dealt with chemical fire extinguishers in the aftermath
of a fire, but in researching "ABC" extinguishers a couple of years
ago, I was informed by the staff of the NFPA that they were
extremely caustic.  This person agreed that this feature could
present problems for cleanup of library and archival materials (not
to mention other artifacts) given the high alkalinity of the
chemicals.  At the very least, people should be aware of this
feature when they are dealing with materials that have been coated
with the chemical and potentially prioritize them for cleanup.

Both "ABC" and water will put out the common combustible material
fires. The water tends to come out in a little more of a stream.
Concurrently "ABC" extinguishers are recommended by many fire
departments because of their versatility, but many of these people
also do not have any idea of their potential effect on books and
papers.  They are much more interested in just putting the fire out
as quickly as possible without creating a dangerous situation for
the user (rightly so).  However, I am finding that the majority of
persons participating in Disaster Preparedness Workshops do not have
the slightest idea how to operate a fire extinguisher in the first
place, let alone know about their effects or for that matter the
effects of a 1 1/2" stream of water at 130-150 psi would have on
their materials. What a great advertisement for sprinkler systems or
water misting systems!
Gregor Trinkaus-Randall
Collection Management/Preservation Specialist
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
648 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02215-2070
617-267-9400, 800-952-7403 (in-state)
Fax: 617-421-9833

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:93
                   Distributed: Friday, May 15, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-93-001
Received on Friday, 15 May, 1998

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