Friday, April 28, 2006

Fighting fire with...

One of the great things about living in Ballard is that the neighborhood still has "real" stores in addition to the growing number of frou-frou places and salons with names like "Beruffled" "Roodi Mop."

One of these real stores is Western Fire and Safety. I've driven by it on Market Street thousands of times, vaguely aware of fire extinguishers in the display window.

I've also been vaguely aware that somewhere in our house is a tiny fire extinguisher, lugged over here when we moved in four years ago, and probably purchased some years earlier than that.

Not good.

I looked up fire extinguishers on the web, found Fire Extinguisher: 101, took some notes about types, and made a note on my to-do list.

Eventually I located our extinguisher tucked in the back of the broom closet. The gage measuring pressure had dropped to "discard." I tossed the spent cannister in the car, and yesterday stopped by Western Fire and Safety.

I confess, I'd been afraid that by going to a serious fire extinguisher store (rather than picking up a generic at Fred Meyer) I'd feel over my head. But, no. The person who helped me was a young woman who has been in the business for years. I needed an extinguisher with a C rating for the kitchen, and one with A and B ratings for upstaris, and wasn't sure about the basement heating area and garage. She recommended the ABC combo (same price as the others) for each area.

These were a bit larger, and much nicer, than the defunct extinguisher. And, instead of being discarded, they get refilled. They also come with sturdy metal holders that attach to the wall, so the cannister doesn't end up hidden at the bottom of the broom closet.

She tagged them so I'd know when to check the pressure (once a year). She also reviewed with me how to use a fire extinguisher (not something you want to be figuring out while your kitchen is aflame). I didn't know, for instance, that you are supposed to aim at the base of the fire, not the at the flames themselves.

I went home and found good locations for the fire extinguishers, which don't exactly coordinate with most decors. The kitchen and upstairs extinguishers are concealed in closets and alcoves, but the one for the basement is mounted prominently on the basement stairway wall, also in clear view of the stove on the main floor. Now they're installed, Zorg and I both know where they are, I've put the yearly pressure check on my iCal calendar with an alarm reminder, and I hope we never use them.

I have, by the way, used one in someone else's kitchen, putting out a fire started when an old blender cord sparked and ignited some curtains.

It was kinda fun.

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