In most situations you are free to choose between foam or powder as a fire-extinguishing agent. The most commonly used fire extinguishers are in fact 6kg powder extinguishers and 6l foam extinguishers, because they are both the equivalent of the so-called legal fire extinguishing unit. But if you have a choice, what type of fire extinguisher should you use: foam or powder?
We always recommend choosing a foam extinguisher if possible. Foam has the great advantage that it has a better extinguishing capacity than powder, but it is also much easier to clean up the foam after use.
Foam is a kind of soap, and therefore causes little collateral damage.
- Powder, on the other hand, consists of very fine particles, which are also corrosive.
- Powder therefore affects all electronic equipment and pipes, even if you do not directly spray them with the extinguisher.
- Powder spreads like a dust cloud, and because the particles are so small, they're also extremely difficult to clean up. You need an industrial vacuum cleaner, because with a normal vacuum cleaner, the powder particles simply go out again through the filter and simply blow the dust around more. Foam fire extinguishers are only a bit more expensive, so why take the risk of such collateral damage?
- A big advantage of powder extinguishers is that they're very useful when working with gas, or when you need a frost-resistant fire extinguisher. Powder can extinguish the so-called class C fires, which include gases, and foam cannot extinguish those kind of fires. But in the case of a gas fire in a gas pipeline, it's always better to flee than to try to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher, so this is only useful for small amounts of gas.
- Powder is also frost-resistant, so you can use a powder fire extinguisher without any problems when it freezes.
Foam is not frost-resistant by default, although frost-resistant foams do exist. However, they are more expensive to buy.
Anyway, you should bear in mind the following three points:
- First of all, foam has a better extinguishing capacity than powder.
- Secondly, foam causes far less collateral damage than powder.
- And finally, powder is only preferred if the extinguisher should be frost-resistant.