Fire Gone extinguisher not so hot

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Photo Credit: Nathan Wilson

James Licea puts out a contained fire with Fire Gone at the Olive Drive Training facility April 29.

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James Licea, Copy Editor
May 4, 2011
Filed under Reviews

Fire Gone is a product that is intended to diminish any type of fire, from an engine fire to a candle. The product is said to even be able to put out a Christmas tree fire, but in reality, Fire Gone should not be trusted unless several cans are available.

The commercial for this product shows people in various predicaments where a fire ignites and they quickly put it out using Fire Gone. It describes the product as more effective and easier to use than fire extinguishers, however the warning label on the back of the can reads that it is “not intended to replace an NFPA 10 compliant fire extinguisher.”

I purchased my 16-ounce can of Fire Gone on Amazon.com for a total of $15.44 including shipping and handling.

To test this product out safely, I had the help of Tim Capehart, the fire technology coordinator at the Olive Drive Training Facility. We started the fire in a little tin that we found outside the training facility.  We put in some cardboard, a couple pieces of wood and some paper. After lighting the fire I waited for it to grow to be able to accurately test this product.  After about a minute it seemed big enough and I started the steps. The simple instructions read: “call 911, hold can upright, break off tab, hold can 3 to 4 feet away from fire and spray across base of fire using gentle sweeping motion.”

When testing Fire Gone, I followed each direction carefully, excluding the first step. After about four or five sprays of Fire Gone’s foamy white contents, the fire was almost gone.

For the most part, the fire did go out, but a lot of smoke was still emerging from the tin. I stayed, staring at the smoke concerned the fire would reignite.  It stayed out, but I’m not sure it would have if it had it been in a less contained environment — a           Christmas tree for instance.

After those four or five sprays, I also noticed that the can had completely emptied.  Trying to spray more of it onto the smoky remains, it dispersed out little droplets of foam like an empty can of silly string.

This made me certain that Fire Gone is not a safe product.  If this were to have been an actual fire, in a real location, I’m terrified to think what might have happened. This, Capehard said, is a problem with all products similar to Fire Gone. They contain minimal liquid to adequately put out fires.

He said normally fire extinguishers work better because they are usually serviced once a year, contain enough powder to put out almost any size fire, can be used standing further than three to four feet away from a fire and have pressure meters to show how much remains.

This is one of those products that should be tried at your own risk.  I’m sure this product holds some use —very little, but some. In case you do want to try it out, I recommend you read and take the advice of the can very literally, “ensure a safe path of escape in the event of a failure to stop the fire.”

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