Types of Fires and How to Put them Out
Types of Fires and How to Put them Out
In the event of a fire, knowing how to extinguish it can be helpful, if not life-saving. However, it’s always important to proceed with caution and identifying the type of fire is an important factor to how you extinguish it – if you were to attempt to.
Fires can be classified into five types, depending on the agent that fuels them. Each type involves different flammable materials so trying to extinguish a fire using the wrong method could make matters worse.
Class A – Class A is the most common type of fire which involves solid combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, trash, or plastic. You might start Class A fires intentionally when lighting a match or unintentionally from knocking over a candle. Class A fires are the easiest type to extinguish. Water or foam fire extinguisher can work on Class A fires. You can also use water to douse the fire to extinguish its heat supply.
Class B – Class B fires involve flammable liquids like oil, alcohol, or gasoline and might occur anywhere flammable liquids or gases are used or kept. Class B fires should be extinguished using foam, powder, or carbon dioxide extinguishers as these types of extinguishers work by cutting off a fire's oxygen supply. A water extinguisher should not be used on a Class B fire as the stream of water might spread the flaming material rather than extinguish it.
Class C – Class C (or Class E in Australia), fires involve electrical equipment. This type of fire might be started by old wiring, frayed electrical cords, or faulty appliances. These electrical fires are very common in both homes and industrial work places. If attempting to extinguish this type of fire, use a carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher. Do not try to put out Class C fires with a water or foam extinguisher, since these can conduct electricity and potentially make the situation worse.
Class D – Class D fires are uncommon but occurs when a metal ignites. It takes high levels of heat to ignite most metals, which makes Class D fires rare outside of laboratories and industrial settings. These types of fires can be extinguished with a dry powder extinguisher only.
Class K - Class K (or Class F in the UK) fires involves cooking oils such as vegetable oil or animal fats. Although they are sometimes combined with Class B fires, these fires involving cooking oils to be in their own category because of their high flash point. Class K fires often start when a pan is left unattended on a stove for too long.
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