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In most cases, absolutely nothing. One exception is that the polished stainless steel cylinders generally are simply pressurized water extinguishers.
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Definitely yes! Extinguisher are classified A, B or C, or some combination of these letters. This refers to the type of fire they are effective on.
To understand this, you must understand that fires are classified according to what the fuel is that is burning. If a Class A extinguisher is used on a Class B fire, it will splatter and spread the burning liquid. If a Class A extinguishing agent (water) comes in contact with a Class C fire, there is the risk that the electrical current will come back through the stream of water and electrocute the extinguisher operator.
If you look at the two horizontal levers on top you will notice that there is a pin which prevents these levers from being squeezed together. While the pin is in place, there is little risk that the extinguisher will discharge accidentally. The lower lever is intended as the carrying handle.
To discharge, first break the tamper seal which holds the pin in place, then remove the pin. When you squeeze the two levers together, the extinguisher will discharge if it is fully pressurized.
Absolutely and those tactics which make for effective firefighting also protect the operator.