When we talk about the risk of fires, we often don’t stop to think that there are different classes. Depending on the materials, the origin, or the conditions of the fire, the fire is classified into types, for which specific extinguishers are used.
Fire extinguishers are the last line of defense when it comes to preventing a fire, acting as a barrier to prevent the spread of fire when it starts to get out of control or occurs accidentally. Let’s see what types of fires there are and which extinguishers are suitable for each case.
Today, at HotFireDoor, we will talk about the different types of fire extinguishers available in the market and their respective uses. We will tell you everything about extinguishers and their properties.
Classification of fires according to their origin
Fires are classified according to the type of material that is burning, which determines the type of extinguisher that should be used to combat them. There are five main classes of fires, identified by letters and different colored symbols:
Class A: Fires involving solid organic materials
These fires involve materials such as wood, paper, cardboard, and fabric. They are identified by the letter A within a green triangle.
Class B: Fires involving liquids and flammable materials
Class B fires involve substances such as gasoline, oil, alcohol, wax, and plastics. They are represented by the letter B within a red square.
Class C: Fires of electrical origin
These fires occur in electrical equipment, such as computers, electrical panels, and outlets. They are identified by the letter C within a blue circle.
Class D: Combustible Metal Fires
Class D fires involve metals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and aluminum, especially in the form of powder. They are represented by the letter D inside a yellow five-pointed star.
Class K: Kitchen Oil and Grease Fires
Class K fires involve cooking oils and greases, which are difficult to extinguish with water. They are identified by the letter K, usually inside a white hexagon or square.
Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Applications
There are various types of fire extinguishers, each designed to combat different classes of fires. Some extinguishers can be effective against multiple types of fires, while others are specific to a single type. It is essential to select the appropriate extinguisher to ensure safety and effectiveness in fighting the fire. Having one of these on hand is a way to keep our home safe.
These extinguishers are effective for Class A fires but should never be used on electrical fires (Class C). Water spray extinguishers, an improvement over traditional water extinguishers, can also be used on Class C fires.
The foam cools and smothers the flames, making these extinguishers suitable for Class A and B fires. The foam forms a barrier that prevents access to oxygen and hinders the spread of fire.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers
CO2 extinguishers are ideal for Class B and C fires. The carbon dioxide is stored at high pressure in the extinguisher and, when released, rapidly cools the burning material and displaces the oxygen fueling the fire.
Dry chemical powder extinguishers
These extinguishers are effective for Class A, B, and C fires. The dry chemical powder melts under heat and creates a barrier that smothers the fire. Specific dry chemical powder compounds are used for Class D fires, depending on the type of metal involved.
Potassium Acetate extinguishers
Specifically designed for Class K fires, these extinguishers use potassium acetate, which upon contact with oil, turns into soap and extinguishes the fire.
Selection and maintenance of extinguishers
To ensure safety and effectiveness in fire fighting, it is essential to select the appropriate type of extinguisher and keep it in good condition.
Selection of the appropriate extinguisher
When choosing an extinguisher, make sure it is designed to combat the types of fires that could occur in the environment where it will be installed. For example, a CO2 extinguisher would be suitable for an area with electrical equipment, while a potassium acetate extinguisher would be appropriate for a kitchen.
Maintenance and Care of Fire Extinguishers
It is important to perform regular inspections and maintenance of fire extinguishers to ensure their proper functioning in case of emergency. This includes:
- Checking the expiration date and replacing expired extinguishers.
- Regularly inspecting the extinguisher for damage or corrosion and repairing or replacing as necessary.
- Checking the pressure gauge to ensure that the extinguisher has the appropriate pressure.
- Performing professional maintenance annually or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Training in the Use of Fire Extinguishers
Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher in case of a fire is essential to ensure safety and minimize damages. Training in the use of fire extinguishers should include:
- Identification of fire types and the appropriate extinguishers for each.
- Techniques for proper use, such as the PASS method (pull the safety pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the trigger, and sweep the hose).
- Understanding when it is safe to fight a fire and when it is necessary to evacuate and call emergency services.
Fire Extinguisher Courses and Training
There are numerous courses and training programs available to teach employees and individuals how to properly use fire extinguishers and handle fire situations. These courses may include theoretical and practical training, as well as fire drills to ensure that participants are fully prepared in case of a real emergency.
Regulations and Standards for Fire Extinguishers
It is essential to comply with local and national regulations and standards regarding the installation, maintenance, and use of fire extinguishers. These regulations may vary depending on the country and jurisdiction but usually include requirements such as:
- Installation of extinguishers in accessible and visible locations.
- Placement of extinguishers at a specific distance from each other and in relation to emergency exits.
- Inclusion of proper signage to indicate the location of extinguishers.
- Regular inspections and maintenance of extinguishers.
- Training of personnel in the use and handling of extinguishers.