Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Beware the Selfac fire extinguisher


I’ve seen a few stories about Selfac fire extinguishers over the years, but they’ve never contained much detail, or been accompanied by photographs, so I’ve never been able to put anything meaningful together about them.

But they do seem to be a little bit dangerous, and all the more so as they are becoming even less known that they used to be, but the chances of finding one in an older house that has never been refurbished remains, so the chances of someone getting a nasty surprise might be rising.

I’ve tried to dig up relevant online info to link to, but none of the mentions found so far have actually related to the devices themselves (I’m not counting news stories of recent ‘finds’), merely listed the name along with other extinguisher types, and the same seems true for image searches – these exist, but end up leading only to images of other ancient extinguishers, but not an actual Selfac.

There is enough info online to describe it though:

Selfac extinguishers were made by FE Proprietary Co Ltd of London. Material used in their construction included copper, aluminium, iron, lead, paper, cardboard, and plastic. Clearly this list excludes the contents. The measure approximately 330 mm x 180 mm, and weigh 5.065 kg (just over 11 lbs in the units of the time). The iron content appears to have been a stand or mounting that was screwed to a wall or similar, to hold the extinguisher itself.

And I can only quote the details as provided by the experts of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, as provided in this recent story:

Selfac extinguishers contain bicarbonate of soda and a central explosive charge.

Many of them were distributed during World War II. They were often placed in roof spaces, and used to contain fires by dispersing the fire retardant powder over the flames when triggered by intense heat.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said discoveries of selfac extinguishers were not uncommon but warned that they remain dangerous.

“Some people hold on to them as antiques from the war and some are found in lofts of old houses but they can be highly unstable and can explode,” she said.

“They’re dangerous because they have a small detonator inside that reacts to heat or heavy movement so that’s why it was taken away to be destroyed.”

Via Bomb disposal team destroys World War II extinguisher in Longniddry


June 19, 2013 - Posted by | World War II | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I have found 2 yesterday in an attic space in Edinburgh and i don’t know what to do with them.


    Comment by ross | September 8, 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: