Know the Types of Fire Extinguishers

If a fire breaks out in your workplace, do you know how to put it out? It is important that you and everyone in your company not only know how to use a fire extinguisher, but know about different types of extinguishers and what they are used for. Especially if you work in manufacturing or own a restaurant, you have specific types of fire classes that require only certain fire extinguishers.

Here is more information on the types of fire extinguishers and the classes of fires to use them.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

There are actually several different types of fire extinguishers that you may need to use in your business, depending on the type of fire you are dealing with. Here are the types of fire extinguishers and what class of fire they are generally used for.

Water and foam.  The water and foam fire extinguisher is only for Class A fires. They remove the heat from the fire triangle, thus allowing the oxygen to separate and the fire to gradually go out.

Carbon dioxide.  A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher works in a similar way to the water and foam by separating the oxygen element and using a cold discharge to remove the heat from the fire. While it cannot be used on Class A fires, it is sufficient at putting out Class B and Class C fires.

Dry chemical. A dry chemical fire extinguisher is one that creates a disturbance with the chemical reaction occurring in the fire. This is used on Class A, Class B, and Class C fires, particularly with offering a barrier between the fuel and oxygen elements in Class A fires.

Wet chemical. With a wet chemical fire extinguisher, it works by putting a barrier between the fuel and oxygen elements of a fire triangle to prevent re-ignition and removes heat from the triangle. This is a Class K fire extinguisher, but if you run a restaurant, you can also use it on Class A fires in your kitchen.

Clean agent. This fire extinguisher is for Class B and Class C fires as interrupts the chemical reaction occurring in a fire and includes halo agents.

Dry powder. A dry powder fire extinguisher is another one that separates the fuel from the oxygen element in the fire triangle, as well as removing much of the heat from the fire. It is only to be used on Class D fires.

Water mist.This is a newer type of fire extinguisher that helps eliminate the heat element in the fire triangle, providing an alternative if you are concerned about contamination in the workplace. It is for Class A fires, but can also be used on Class C fires.

Fire Classes

Knowing the fire classes helps you determine which fire extinguisher to use. Here are the main classes you should be concerned with in your place of business:

Class A – Combustible materials like wood, paper, plastic, rubber and cloth.

Class B – Flammable liquids fire caused by oil, oil-based paints, grease or gasoline.

Class C – Electrical equipment fires caused by tools, equipment or appliances that were plugged in.

Class D – Combustible metals fire for certain types of metals seen mostly in factories and warehouses.

Class K – If you have a kitchen, the Class K fire is one that is from combustible cooking fires. This is from vegetable or animal oils, grease, and cooking appliances.

Not only should you be aware of what fire extinguishers work for what fire, but also protect your business with a business property insurance just in case a fire breaks out.

The U.S. Fire Administration offers additional information about fire extinguishers here