Part of fire prevention is understanding your different classes of fire and fire extinguishers. This guide will go through the different classes of fires and extinguishers that you might encounter.
'A for all.' 'A' class fires constitute any fire that is burning on regular fuels, such as paper or wood. These fires are normally put out with water, or an 'A' class extinguisher. You don't often see just 'A' class extinguishers though; instead you will see an 'ABC' extinguisher which will extinguish A, B, or C class fires.
'B' class fires are fires that are burning due to combustible liquids, such as gasoline or oils. These fires cannot be put out with water, in fact that could actually make them worse! Only a 'B' class fire extinguisher can put out this class of fire. Most of the extinguishers that you will see for 'B' class fires are going to be 'ABC' extinguishers, although they do make 'BC' extinguishers. If you have nothing else, a CO2 extinguisher will also extinguish a 'B' class fire.
'C' class fires are fires that are started by or from electricity, be it electrical circuits or wiring. These fires also cannot be put out with water, as water conducts electricity. You could get seriously injured if you try! 'C' class fires should only be extinguished with a 'C' class extinguisher. However, if you can, unplug the electrical device on fire, and the fire may extinguish itself. If not, it now becomes an 'A' class fire and you can now use water or an 'A' class extinguisher.
'D' class fires are fires that are started by combustible metals, such as magnesium or titanium. This class of fire is incredibly rare and is generally found only on worksites or military bases. To extinguish this class of fire, you need a 'D' class extinguisher, or what is termed as a 'MetalX' extinguisher. As with most other types of fires, you should not try and extinguish this class of fire with water.
'K' class fires are fires that are started in kitchens, specifically within deep fat fryers in industrial kitchens. These industrial size fryers are very volatile and can cause a lot of damage if the fire is not contained. These fires are contained by massive systems that will release a liquid on top of the oil in the fryer to cease the fire. As with 'B' class fires, do not under any circumstances put water on these fires.
For more information, contact a professional fire prevention service, like Ace Fire Protection.
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