Fire Extinguisher : 101

Fire Extinguisher : 101

The Comeback of Fire Extinguishing Balls and their Benefits

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This article is intended to provide individuals with information about how fire extinguishing balls are used to extinugish fires.

Fire extinguishers play an essential role in the safety systems of both residential and commercial buildings. Deemed to be a reliable line of defense against the spread of flames, they are also placed in vehicles and temporary structures. Learn more about fire extinguisher types. Another type of device designed to fight blazes is the fire extinguishing ball. It has been around for years, but has only recently become popular in both homes and businesses across North America. Its unique design offers numerous benefits.

What Are Fire Extinguishing Balls?
Back in the 19th century, glass balls containing fire suppressant liquids were widely used to fight fires. The design eventually fell out of fashion, and has only now begun to make a comeback in the industry.

The fire extinguishing balls available today are not made of glass, but typically constructed with a foam casing wrapped in PVC. These products react to heat and flames quickly, causing the triggers embedded in the unit to respond and disperse the dry chemical fire suppressant locked inside.

To actively fight a fire, it must be thrown or rolled into the flames, where it will activate and spread a dry-powdered fire extinguishing agent. Mono ammonium phosphate is commonly used as a non-toxic alternative that extinguishes flames of Class A, B or C fires. They are also passively effective, without human intervention.

The devices are generally marked with brightly colored wrappers that denote their use and serve as a warning to those who may attempt to move the device.

How Do Fire Extinguishing Balls Work?
Different models can function in slightly different ways, but the basic idea is the same. An activation or trigger strip is embedded into the ball’s outer casing, which securely holds the dry fire extinguishing agent inside. When the activator or trigger is exposed to flames for more than a few seconds, the casing will burst open and disperse a cloud of chemical powder in the immediate vicinity. A fire extinguishing ball can usually put out the flames in an area with a radius ranging between 4 and 5 meters. An audible warning such as a bang or other loud noise is set inside in order to alert those nearby.

The devices work as passive protection (without human intervention) in 3 different ways:

  • Flame detection – activation occurs when heat or flames are sensed by the trigger
  • Alarm – a loud noise alerts those nearby that there is a fire
  • Fire extinguisher – the dry chemical agent reacts quickly and effectively to suppress the flames in the immediate area

Specific Benefits

Fire extinguishing balls offer unique benefits and are often used in conjunction with other more traditional fire extinguishers in order to provide additional protection and coverage in homes and offices.

This type of device is maintenance free and will typically offer about five years of dependable coverage before needing replacement. Traditional extinguishers need to be taken care of and can become costly to maintain.

Fire extinguishing balls are effective in a passive and active manner that is, mounted on the wall and/or thrown or rolled into the flames. Flexibility and ease of use makes it a wise choice for family homes. Although it is not generally recommended that the device be actively used on a Class B fire, it can still be mounted for passive protection in areas where there is a high risk of Class B fires.

  • When activated, the dry chemical fire extinguishing agent inside the device is typically non-toxic and harmless to humans and animals.
  • Multiple fire extinguishing balls can be rolled or thrown into a large fire to help control the spread and get the flames to a more manageable level.
  • Although the device must be stored in interior locations so as to be protected from the elements, it can be effectively used to actively fight fires outside as well.
  • Many of the models available on the market are simple to dispose of when their expiration date has elapsed. The chemical agent is usually mono ammonium phosphate, which can be safely used as garden fertilizer when mixed with water. And its plastic or foam outer core can usually be recycled, depending on the specifications of your local recycling program.

Not intended to replace the standard fire extinguisher, but rather used to ensure additional protection and safety against blazes, a fire extinguishing ball is reliable, effective, and provides worry-free protection around the clock. Consider including one or more in your household fire safety plan.


Written by John Manley
Having experienced 2 house fires, John Manley now devotes some of his spare time educating people about the importance of having fire extinguishers, CO and fire alarms, and proper escape plans though the website: Fire Extinguisher: 101 -


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