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.”

Comments

One Response to “Fire Gone extinguisher not so hot”

  1. Greg Mockett on September 29th, 2014 10:39 am

    I find this review exceptionally dubious.

    I am in the process of reviewing many of these “spray can” fire extinguishers on all types of fire (testing Tundra, Fire Gone, and PyroCool). A B C and K (kitchen grease or cooking oil) class fires were all tested. Fire Gone actually works very well on each.

    The fundamental problems with A B C dry powder extinguishers is that they do not extinguish grease fires (that is why the NFPA created the K class).

    The next fundamental problem with dry powder extinguishers which is completely misrepresented above is that they only spray for 6 seconds (comparable size to the Fire Gone) and generally has too much pressure (about 100 PSI) such that it will push burning grease out of a pan and around the kitchen spreading the fire.

    The next key problem is that when extinguished with a dry powder extinguisher–read, no wetting agents to cool the fire) a grease fire reignites! Grease spontaneously erupts into flame when it reaches a particularly hot temperature. As the fire builds, the temperature of the grease builds. A K class dry powder extinguisher has been shown to put out a grease fire BUT it then reignites–up to 7 times!!!! Using multiple extinguishers!

    Harping on grease fire is critical because it is the number one fire cause in homes! And dorms.

    The Fire Gone extinguisher puts the fire out, period. 3 to 5 seconds and no reignitions in our tests. And we even had sufficient spray left in each can to do our successful Class B tests (gasoline fire in a pan).

    The BIG problem–if you want to list one–for Fire Gone and its family of extinguishers, is that the wetting agent (water) causes a violent reaction in the flaming hot grease (and in boiling gasoline). This reaction is more or less temporary relative to the wetting agents in the various products–with Fire Gone performing the best. The user should be trained on grease fires — and the cooking fire shown in the Fire Gone dorm add may be missleading as it is definitely *NOT* a grease fire. Credit however to the production of that video as the girl’s position relative to the fire and the spray direction is the safe one (never spray in the direction of the stove controls–always come from the sides).

    Wood and paper, or a Class A fire, is one that a wetting agent rocks. There are faster wetting agent extinguishers for Class A fires, but Fire Gone is still a sufficient product. And quite frankly, because of the ability to also bring water from a sink or shower to bear on a class A fire, the extinguishers ability to take down the hottest spots is also quite sufficient.

    The conclusion, quoting good advice from the can and insinuating the manufacturers of Fire Gone know a user is not going to be successful putting out a fire with their product, is unfounded and smacks of agenda writing (are you hired for this review by a Kidde or Amerex?). The reality is that many fires (size or in area with combustibles) should not even be engaged with any extinguisher!!! Just get out!!! Having good common sense and following the good advice on the can might just save a life or two. No matter the size or type or location of a fire, you should never engage it if doing so blocks your escape route!

    It is really too bad this review has not been fairly rebutted.

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