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Three Collapse after Fire Extinguisher Prank

23rd January 2008

Two men and a police officer collapsed when a fire extinguisher "fight" went wrong.
Two residents of a block of flats in Hawk Street, Burnley, let off three fire extinguishers releasing carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere effectively "suffocating" them.

A police officer attending the scene also collapsed, although none of the men were seriously injured.

The incident at 6-45 p.m. yesterday drew a warning from watch manager Pete Ashworth at Burnley Fire Station who said fire extinguishers could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

He said: "This incident just goes to show fire extinguishers are not toys and should not be used in this way. We were concerned the extinguishers had let out toxic or inflammable liquid but that was not the case.

"It was actually carbon dioxide that was pumped into the room which is heavier than air, effectively suffocating the men. A police officer attempting a rescue also passed out."

Watch manager Ashworth said the two men had put everybody's lives in danger and the flats were also now without extinguishers.

Insp. Jez Holland, of Burnley police, said one of the men became aggressive when taken into an ambulance and refused treatment. He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and given a fixed penalty notice.
Published Source: Burnley Express 14-01-08

F&SC Editors note:
Just to put our readers minds at rest there are no types of fire extinguisher containing flammable liquids. The chemical agents used (CO2, Dry Powder, Water, Foam etc.) are also non toxic but as this event shows they can be potentially dangerous if used incorrectly, particularly in an enclosed room. CO2 Extinguishers also discharge gas at very low temperatures that can cause cold “burns” in contact with the skin which is why they are fitted with insulated discharge horns. For more information on CO2 and other types of fire extinguishers see our Advice pages.


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