What To Do With My Old Fire
By Wayne Spivak
It invariably happens. In fact its
almost common-place. One would be amazed at
how much this has become such a common occurrence. It happens every time I teach a safe
boating course. It happened just the other
day, by e-mail. It is that e-mail that has
prompted this article. What happens? Im
asked What do I do with my old fire extinguishers?
Fire extinguishers manufactured in the
decade come in three varieties, water filled, gas filled and chemical filled
extinguishers. With the exception of chemical
filled extinguishers, both water filled and gas (CO2) filled extinguishers are
inert, and are not harmful. The dry chemical
variety can cause irritation, so extra care should be taken with these units.
Older fire extinguishers may have been
charged with chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride or halon. If in doubt, contact your local fire department or
fire extinguisher service companies (found conveniently in the yellow pages).
The common denominator in the three
different types of fire extinguishers mentioned is the fact that they each container is
under pressure. Without pressure, when you
squeezed the activating trigger, nothing would happen.
This is why, on most units today, there is a pressure gauge.
Many of todays units are also
rechargeable. This means for a small amount
of money, usually a fraction of the cost of a new unit, you can have your fire
extinguisher emptied, checked and re-filled. But
lets get back to the inevitable question. You
dont want the old fire extinguisher. What
do you do with it?
First and foremost, contact your local
fire department, sanitation department or environmental protection department and find out
what your local laws stipulate. Some locals
consider fire extinguishers as hazard waste. Others
wont permit you to put fully charged extinguishers in with the regular garbage.
However, you may be able to dispose of discharged extinguishers. If you are permitted, heres the chance to
practice what we hope you will never have to do, use the fire extinguisher.
Remember, when you use a fire
extinguisher, you point at the bottom of the fire, and spray with a left to right (or
right to left) motion using short bursts from the fire extinguisher. A unit under
pressure, if crushed, can explode. Once the
unit is discharged, there is no potential of an accident should the extinguisher be
crushed during the disposal phase.
learn more about what to do during a boating emergency, why not take a boating safety
course! The United States Coast Guard
Auxiliary has a variety of boating courses geared for all levels of boating knowledge. You can contact your local Auxiliary Flotilla by
either calling your local Coast Guard unit or visiting the Coast Guard on the web at http://www.uscg.mil or the Coast Guard Auxiliary at http://www.cgaux.org
is the Branch Chief National Training Department of United States Coast