You know your workplace or industrial facility needs a fire extinguisher, but when it comes to using a fire extinguisher or purchasing a new one, how do you know which one you need? There’s a lot that goes into proper fire protection of your building, and it’s important that you’re choosing the fire extinguisher that will keep you and the rest of your building safe. It’s good to know that there are 5 types of fire extinguishers.
Different types of fire extinguishers are designed to fight different types of fires. While it would be nice to have a universal extinguisher, the problem is that different types of fires require different types of suppression. While water works to put out a traditional campfire, it can actually make other fires, like electrical fires, worse. For that reason, there are five different types of fire extinguishers — each corresponding to a different fire class. Let’s take a look at the different types of fire extinguishers and what types of fires they are safe to use on:
Class A fire extinguishers are safe for use on ordinary combustible fires, like those fueled by paper or wood. There are a number of safe ways to extinguish a Class A fire, so you’ll find a variety of Class A fire extinguisher options available. Some may use a clean agent, while others may use water mist to suffocate and cool a Class A fire.
Class B fire extinguishers are rated for use on flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil, and most often use C02 or clean agents to safely suppress fires. Both clean agents and CO2 work to remove the oxygen from a fire, suffocating it and eventually extinguishing it. Clean agent Class B fire extinguishers are also a preferred option because they leave no residue and don’t require any cleanup.
Class C fire extinguishers are safe for use on fires that are electrically energized. Most class C fire extinguishers use CO2 or another clean agent to suffocate the fire without adding any conductive materials to the flames.
Class D fire extinguishers are used on combustible metals like magnesium and titanium. These types of fires require an extinguishing agent that will not react with the burning metal. Most Class D fire extinguishers use a dry powder agent to smother the fire and absorb heat, suppressing the fire.
Class K fire extinguishers are made to combat kitchen fires. Used on cooking fat, grease, and oil fires, these fire extinguishers usually employ a wet chemical agent composed of potassium to simultaneously cool and suppress the fire.
Those are the five types of fire extinguishers, but it’s good to know that multipurpose fire extinguishers are available. Multipurpose fire extinguishers are rated for use on different types of fires and are labeled with more than one class.
You can easily see what kind of fires a multipurpose fire extinguisher is safe for by looking at the label. An ABC fire extinguisher, for example, would be safe for use on Class A, Class B, and Class C fires, while an AB fire extinguisher would just be rated for Classes A & B.
Choosing the right type of fire extinguisher for your facility comes down to accurately identifying the hazards that are present. It’s good to remember that you may need more than one fire extinguisher, or, you might choose a multipurpose fire extinguisher.
For example, let’s consider a commercial office building. The office space itself might just need a Class A fire extinguisher, to protect against ordinary combustible fires. But, you might also need a Class C fire extinguisher if you have a lot of electronics or a server room that could overheat. You should choose the fire extinguishers that best match the fire hazards present in your workplace or facility, and that might mean choosing more than one fire extinguisher, or a few different multipurpose fire extinguishers.
If you’re not sure what fire extinguishers you have or need, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with a professional. There are different standards and requirements for every industry — while your office building may only need a few ABC fire extinguishers, a commercial kitchen will require more complex fire protection.
For answers to your fire extinguisher questions, and for any of your fire suppression system needs — from fire extinguishers to sprinkler systems — talk to the team at Vanguard. Give us a call at 800-444-8719 or contact us online today!