Fire extinguishers are assigned ratings based on the size and types of fires that can be repeatedly extinguished when operated by experienced operators. These tests are specified by the ANSI/UL 711 Standard.
Pressurized water extinguishers containing 2.5 gal of water are routinely able to pass the 2-A test, resulting in an assigned rating of 2-A. The 2-A rating requires the successful extinguishment of three different types of fires, a wood crib fire, a wood panel fire, and an excelsior fire.
The wood crib fire is conducted by building a crib of wood on a frame built off of the floor, allowing a pan of n-heptane to be placed underneath the crib. For the 2-A fire, 112, 2" x 2" members that are 25" in length are stacked on the frame resulting in 16 layers of 7 members each. The pan of n-heptane is placed underneath, lit, and allowed to ignite the crib. When the crib has pre-burned and achieved total ignition, the water in the pressurized water extinguisher is applied by an expert operator at distance from the crib. The extinguisher must be capable of repeatedly extinguishing this size of fire.
The wood panel fire consists of a 10' x 10' wooden panel arranged vertically. The panel has 2 gal of No. 2 fuel oil applied, ignited, and burned as the ignition source. Once the liquid fuel is burned off, the water in the pressurized water extinguisher is applied by an expert operator. Again, the extinguisher must be capable of repeatedly extinguishing this fire to earn the 2-A rating.
The excelsior fire simulates a deep-seated smoldering fire. Twenty pounds of excelsior (fine wood shavings) is ignited by an electrical device in the center of the pile. After allowing pre-burning, the extinguisher is applied by the expert operator from a specified distance. This size of fire must be repeatedly extinguished to earn the 2-A rating.
Keep in mind that the tests are conducted by a expert operator. Your mileage may vary! The best way for firefighters to gauge the performance of a 2.5 gal pressurized water extinguisher would be to carry one into a training burn and practice with it (following standard safety practices). Then you will know how much fire YOU can extinguish with this important tool.
That is a lot of good technical information Jeff. I never knew (or maybe remembered) how they got the ratings on Fire Extinguisher.
To answer your question Greg, The "Can" will knock down A LOT of fire. Full extinguishment may be a little different, but you can keep a decent room and contents fire in check with a properly applied stream and long tool to close the door. I do not have specific numbers for you, but as jeff stated, take your can in on the next training burn and give it a try. Be sure to have a charged hoseline for back-up purposes though... :-)
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