This is an important question that everyone should know the answer to. It can be the difference between life and death in certain circumstances. Choosing which fire extinguisher to use can save time, money and even your life.
There are a number of different extinguisher types and they are used depending on the types of fuel that start and maintain a fire. Detailed below, you will see the fire classification and the correct extinguisher to use. Just note that using the wrong one can have fatal consequences. For example, using a water based extinguisher on a cooking fat fire could cause an explosion, or using a foam extinguisher on an electrical fire could cause a major hazard.
Class A Fire
This is a fire that takes place with solid or organic fuels as the main propellant. Think plastic, wood, cardboard and furniture. In order to correctly and safely extinguish a fire based on these fuels, you would use a dry powder, water-based, foam or wet chemical extinguisher.
Class B Fire
A Class B fire has flammable liquids a the main fuel – for example, paraffin or petrol amongst others. These fires will take hold extremely quickly, so choosing the right fire extinguisher is essential. Foam, dry powder and CO2 Gas extinguishers are the best types to choose for this application.
Class C Fire
This type of fire is caused by flammable gasses and can have explosive properties. Propane, Methane and Butane are all examples of flammable gasses that could be used in a typical premises. In order to efficiently extinguish these types of fires, you will need a dry powder extinguisher.
Class D Fire
A Class D fire is slightly more uncommon – these fires are fuelled by metals such as Titanium, Lithium and Magnesium that ignite on contact with air. These types of fires require a more specific extinguisher – an L2 Dry Powder Extinguisher.
Class E Fire
Class E fires are electrical fires, fuelled by appliances such as TV’s, Hairdryers and other electrical appliances. A C02 or Dry Powder extinguisher is the only option here – do NOT attempt to put an electrical fire out with a water-based extinguisher.
Class F Fire
Fires classified as F Class are fuelled by cooking fats and oils, for example lard, sunflower oil or simply cooking oil. It is recommended that a Wet Chemical extinguisher is used in these cases, so if you run a busy kitchen, make sure you have one on hand at all times.
Which Fire Extinguishers should I have on my premises?
To determine which extinguishers you need, you must carry out a risk assessment. Finding out what all your potential risks are will give you a starting point for fire safety plan. The types and sizes of extinguisher will differ between business types, for example a small kitchen is going to have a vastly different plan to a car workshop.
You may find that you need a range of extinguishers to fit the many risks your property has. Ensuring the correct type is in the optimal location is very important. The last thing anyone wants is to run around looking for the correct extinguisher when a fire has broken out.
Another important aspect of having fire extinguishers to hand is the ability to correctly use them. You may train a single fire warden in your business, but that is no good if they are off ill on the day of a fire outbreak. Basic Fire Safety Training for all employees is important, not only for your customers or visitors safety, but also for their own safety and well-being. Not having the correct fire extinguishers or training may make you, as an employer, liable.
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