Knowing the different types of fire extinguishers available and what they are used for can ensure one is better prepared to have the right one nearby when one needs it.
Fire safety is important and many people with homes or businesses already acknowledge that keeping an extinguisher close is at hand is a vital step in making sure their properties are prepared for the worst.
But not many people know that there are 5 different versions of extinguishers, each one for a different class of fire.
Choose The Right Fire Extinguisher
Simply having a fire extinguisher on-site may not be enough, especially if one has chosen the wrong one for one's needs.
Every business and home are different, from the activities conducted inside, to how they are built, so the hazards they might potentially face would differ as well.
Different Types Of Fires
Let’s have a look at different types of fires, called classes, and the corresponding extinguishers designed to fight each one.
Class A Fires
Fires that start with more ordinary and organic combustible materials These are fires that start with more ordinary (common) and organic combustible materials such as wood, paper, plastic, and cloth. Trash fires tend to fall under this category and are incredibly common.
Extinguishers one can use: Water / Foam / Dry Powder / Wet Chemical
Class B Fires
These are fires that start with flammable liquids like petrol, diesel, paints, or petroleum-based oils. This is a hazard for businesses like petrol stations and mechanics for example, or industries that deal with fuels, lubricants, and certain highly volatile liquids and paints.
Extinguishers one can use: Foam / Dry Powder / C02
Class C Fires
Class C fires are fires involving energized electrical equipment such as computers, servers, motors, transformers, and appliances. If the power is removed, the Class C fire will turn into one of the other classes of fire.
All these gasses have the potential for causing explosions if ignited by a single spark. Being one of the most dangerous classes of fires to fight and it’s important to see that the gas supply should be isolated before concentrating on putting the fire out.
Some examples of potential sources of class C fires include:
- Overloaded electrical outlets
- Incorrectly wired plugs, outlets, and switches
Extinguishers one can use: Dry Powder (only).
Class D Fires
These are fires that start because of combustible metals like aluminum, magnesium, or titanium. They can also start with metals like potassium and sodium.
Class D fires are most likely to occur in laboratory environments, but they can also arise in the manufacturing industry, as well as others.
If one is thinking it would take a long time to heat up metal to cause a fire one is mostly right. But if one looks at metal shavings or powdered metals, those can go up in flames fast.
Extinguishers one can use: Dry Powder (only)
Electrical Fires (Class E)
Electrical-based fires start due to short circuits, faulty wiring or equipment, or even overloaded switchboards Formally known as Class E, these are electrical-based fires that start due to short circuits, faulty wiring or equipment, or even overloaded switchboards.
They don’t really have a class of their own as electricity is generally a source of ignition rather than a specific fuel.
It’s very important not to use water or foam extinguishers on electrical fires as water and foam both have the power to conduct electricity. Instead, aim for carbon dioxide and dry powder extinguishers.
Extinguishers one can use: Dry Powder / C02
Class F Fires
Uncommon in homes and businesses Class F fires begin with cooking fat or oils which catch fire, usually on a stove or in restaurant kitchens and deep fat fryers.
These kinds of fires are difficult to extinguish and can be very hazardous if people don’t know what to do. For example, if anyone attempts to use water, it is likely to cause a rapid spread of the fire and possibly injure people in the vicinity.
Extinguishers one can use: Wet Chemical (only)
Accurate Tool For The job
It’s very important that one remembers to make sure everyone in the home or business knows how to use a fire extinguisher and doesn’t use the wrong one making sure one has the right fire extinguisher in the respective environment.
It’s also important that one sources the fire extinguishers from accredited companies like Alberta.
If one needs advice on which fire extinguishers are most appropriate for the home or business, get in touch with one of the certified experts who can help ensure one has the best protection possible against fire hazards.