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Subject: Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers

From: Thomas Dixon <dixon-tom<-a>
Date: Monday, January 21, 2008
Sue Dunlap <sdunlap [at] wooster__edu> writes

>We need to equip our special collections area with fire
>extinguisher.  Our safety officer on campus suggested one that uses
>water or one that uses powder.  They apparently weigh about 40 lbs.
>We are concerned about being able to lift and use something this
>heavy.  Also, we wonder about the content of the powder
>extinguishers on the books.  Does anyone have any suggestions of the
>best type of fire extinguisher for a special collections department?

The type of fire extinguisher--or extinguishers--you choose will
depend on what type of  fire you are likely to need to put out, and
for this you need a bit of risk analysis. You mustn't for example,
use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire. If you have curtains
or similar where a fire could go vertical on you, powder, CO2 and
all other portable extinguishers will be useless.  I'd go to the
space with your safety officer and see what their concerns are-
eliminate any you can- and look at what your likely scenarios are,
then go looking for extinguishers that will deal with those
scenarios.  If the space is reasonably small, rather than a portable
fire extinguisher, you might find a tap and a hose is a smarter
option for other than electrical fires. Before all this, make sure
your early fire detection is going to work. Don't underestimate the
value of a fire blanket.  Note that a major library fire I attended
was caused by a computer that spontaneously ignited at 2 am--all
electrical equipment in storage areas should be turned off at the
wall when not in use.

Tom Dixon, former Chief Conservator (ret), NGV
Melbourne Australia


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:41
                 Distributed: Monday, February 4, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-21-41-004
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Received on Monday, 21 January, 2008

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