In the modern world, we live in, every location is unfortunately prone to catching fire. For the same reason, it is imperative that one must be prepared if such a situation was to arise. If proper precautions are not taken, fires could result in an immense loss of lives or other important property. One must always make sure that they meet the standards of fire regulations. One way to prepare for any such situation is knowing the various kinds of fires that could occur and the types of fire extinguishers and their uses. There is no single fire extinguisher type that can cater to all types (classes) of fire. Before exploring the different types of fire extinguishers, it is important to know the various fire classes.
Fire Extinguisher Classes
- Class A Fires are caused by combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, etc.
- Class B Fires are fires that are caused by flammable liquids such as petrol/diesel, paint, kerosene, etc.
- Class C Fires are caused by flammable gases such as ethane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, etc.
- Class D Fires are fires that are caused by combustible metals such as aluminum, magnesium, potassium, etc.
- Class F Fires are caused by cooking oils such as a chip-pan fire
- Electrical Fires are fires that are caused by electrical equipment. However, once the electrical components are removed, the fire changes class
Fire Extinguisher Types
There are broadly 5 types of fire extinguishers and their uses are mentioned below. Each fire extinguisher is to be used for specific fire classes.
1. Foam Fire Extinguishers:
Being the most common type of fire extinguishers, foam extinguishers are water-based and are primarily used for class B fires. However, these are also applicable to Class A fires. The label color on this type of extinguisher is Cream. These fire extinguishers can be used on fires caused by paper, cardboard etc. or on flammable liquids such as petrol or kerosene. If a building is made primarily from wood or other organic materials, foam extinguishers are a must-have.
2. Water Extinguishers:
Used for class A fires, water extinguishers come with a red label. These fire extinguishers are used for fires caused by paper, wood, fabrics, etc. There are two variations of the water extinguisher. One variation is with a spray nozzle because of which the extinguisher is able to cover the greater surface area and extinguish a fire quickly. The second variation is a water mist extinguisher which disperses water in microscopic particles which build somewhat of a barrier between the fire and the person extinguishing it. This reduces the feeling of heat for the person. Water extinguishers should never be used for electrical fires or class F fires. Water extinguishers must not be used to cater to electric fires as that will result in electrocution and can be fatal.
3. Dry Powder Extinguishers
These types of fire extinguishers can be used for class A, class B and class C fires. It is advised to not use these extinguishers in enclosed spaces as the dry powder particles can be easily inhaled. Dry powder extinguishers can also be used for electric fires and come with a blue label. Typically used for flammable metals, Dry powder extinguishers can be used for combustible materials and flammable liquids if they catch fire. Dry powder extinguishers should not be used on electric fires that involve electric equipment exceeding 1000 Volts. There are 2 types of dry powder extinguishers – One type is ‘L2’ which only caters to fires caused by lithium. The second type is ‘M28’, which caters to fires caused by other flammable metals.
4. Wet Chemical Extinguishers
Wet chemical extinguishers are used on class F fires. This type of fire extinguisher comes with a yellow label and is primarily used on fires caused by cooking oils. Wet chemical extinguishers can also be used to treat class A fires however, a foam or water extinguisher is more commonly used for those. A kitchen or a canteen is the ideal place to keep a wet chemical extinguisher.
5. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extinguishers
As the name suggests, carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers disperse carbon dioxide to displace the oxygen that the fire needs to burn and suffocate the fire. CO2 extinguishers are primarily used for electric fires but can also be used for Class B fires. The label on this type of fire extinguisher has a black label. The ideal place to store a CO2 extinguisher is a place with a lot of electrical equipment. Such as a server room or a kitchen that is likely to have a lot of electrical appliances within the vicinity.
It is extremely important to have knowledge about the different fire classes and the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses. It would be difficult to comprehend the class of a fire or the Fire Extinguisher type in a panic situation if a fire were to occur. The best way to tackle a fire is to bear in mind that without the proper approach, one may cause the problem to escalate even further instead of reducing it. This article will help in clarifying the subject matter in a very holistic manner.
In case there is a fire, one must bear in mind to extinguish it very carefully or else the one extinguishing it can easily hurt themselves. In an instance of a fire, the foremost priority must be to evacuate the area and then cater to the fire. If there is a very large-scale fire, the best thing to do is to clear the route of the fire exit and upon exiting, call the fire brigade urgently to come to assist in the problem.
About Capital Solutions:
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