The Different Class of Fires and the Right Extinguishers to Use

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment one can have in their home, car or place of business is a fire extinguisher. It is important to have fire extinguishers that best fit your needs and be able to handle the type of fire you are likely to encounter.

Fires are classified into six different categories based on their fuel. A Class A fire is for combustible solids; Class B is for flammable liquids; Class C is for flammable gases; Class D is for flammable metals; Class E is for fires of an electrical nature, and Class F is for oils. As a result, extinguishers are also categorized based on what class of fire they are best able to control. Each extinguisher includes a numerical rating, type, and flame quenching agent that they contain. It is important to know what class of fire an extinguisher is best for when selecting one.

Fire extinguishers can be further typified as dry chemical, carbon dioxide, class D, clean agent, water mist, water and foam stored pressure and class K wet chemical. In choosing the right type of equipment, it is imperative to familiarize yourself about extinguishing agents. Each class of fire is best fought by a distinctive flame quelling agent. There is a colour coded box on your unit which identifies which class or classes it can be used and the kind of agent it contains.

Water types are equipment only suitable for Class A. This class of fire, sometimes called ordinary combustible fires, is reliable burning like those ignited by items made of wood, paper, rubber, cloth or plastics. These are things you store in your home and office. They provide the fuel for a Class A fire. There are two types of water fire extinguishers, the air pressured and the water mist spray extinguisher. This type comes in water or water with additive types in 6L up to 9L. There are also models made of stainless steel.

The restored pressure type puts out the fire by a cooling, soaking stream of water between 40-60 feet. The extended discharge time is 40-60 seconds. In areas of freezing temperatures, an anti-freeze charge is added.

Foam types are designed to for fires caused by gasoline, kerosene, oil, grease or any other combustible liquids. These extinguishers put out flames by spraying a dry chemical powder or foam with a nitrogen propellant. They are used for classes A and B fires.

Dry Powder is multi-purpose extinguishers. They are suited for classes A, B and C fires. Special powders are used for Class D fires. Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers can be used in situations that involve electrical apparatus. For Class F fires types, wet chemical fire extinguishers can be utilized. A specialist fire extinguisher is used for metal fires.

There is also a colour coding for different types of fire extinguishers as follows: for water, colour is red; for foam, it is cream; for dry powder, colour is blue; and for carbon dioxide (CO2) it is black. New fire extinguishers are required to conform to BS EN 3 that the entire body of the extinguisher is coloured red. A zone of the colour of up to 5% of the outside area can identify the contents using the old coding.

Selecting the correct fire extinguisher for your needs can save lives, prevent damage and give a sense of security for minimal cost.