What Type Of Fire Extinguisher Am I Supposed To Use?

Posted July 01, 2024 by Koorsen Fire & Security


Fire safety is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Different fire scenarios require different approaches, and having the right knowledge and tools is essential for effective response. In this blog post, we'll explore how to deal with various fire scenarios using the appropriate fire extinguishers, ensuring you are well-prepared for any situation.

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  1. Class A Fires: The Basic Combustibles

Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, and plastics. These fires are a common occurrence in homes and offices. To deal with Class A fires effectively:

  • Recommended Extinguisher: Multipurpose ABC Extinguisher, Water or Foam.
  • Technique: Use a sweeping motion to apply the extinguishing agent (PASS method). Water and foam extinguishers are effective in cooling and smothering the flames, while dry chemical extinguishers inhibit the chain reaction & create a barrier to prevent the fire's spread.

Understanding the basics of Class A fires allows you to choose the right extinguisher and respond promptly to prevent the fire from spreading.

  1. Class B Fires: Tackling Flammable Liquids and Gases

Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gases, including gasoline, oil, grease, and paints. These fires pose unique challenges, and the wrong extinguisher can exacerbate the situation. To deal with Class B fires:

  • Recommended Extinguisher: Dry Chemical (ABC) Extinguisher or CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).
  • Technique: Use a sweeping motion and aim at the base of the flames (PASS method). CO2 extinguishers displace oxygen, while dry chemical extinguishers inhabit the chain reaction & create a barrier to prevent the fire's spread.

Understanding the nature of Class B fires ensures that you select an extinguisher designed to combat these specific flammable materials.

  1. Class C Fires: The Challenge of Electrical Fires

Class C fires involve electrical equipment, making them particularly hazardous. Using water-based extinguishers on electrical fires can lead to electric shock. To safely handle Class C fires:

  • Recommended Extinguisher: Dry Chemical (ABC) Extinguisher or CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)
  • Technique: Aim at the base of the flames and use a sweeping motion (PASS method). C-rated extinguishers are non-conductive, making them safe for use on electrical fires.

Recognizing the potential for electrical fires ensures that you choose extinguishers that neutralize the risk without posing additional danger. The fire is actually an A or B class fire that is energized.

  1. Class D Fires: Combating Combustible Metals

Class D fires involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, and lithium. These fires are rare but extremely dangerous. To deal with Class D fires:

  • Recommended Extinguisher: Specialized Class D Extinguisher designed for specific metal types.
  • Technique: Follow the instructions on the Class D extinguisher carefully. These extinguishers often use dry powder agents to smother the fire.

Understanding the unique characteristics of Class D fires ensures that you are equipped to respond safely in environments with combustible metals.

  1. Class K Fires: The Challenge of Kitchen Fires

Class K fires involve cooking oils and fats commonly found in commercial kitchens. These fires require specialized attention. To deal with Class K fires:

  • Recommended Extinguisher: Wet Chemical Extinguisher designed for kitchen fires.
  • Technique: Apply the wet chemical agent in a continuous stream to cool the cooking oil and suppress the flames. Always activate the Kitchen Suppression System first if available. 

Recognizing the specific risks in kitchen environments allows for effective use of extinguishers designed for Class K fires.

  1. Dealing with Multiple Classes: Multipurpose Extinguishers

For environments where different fire risks coexist, multipurpose extinguishers are the go-to solution. These extinguishers are typically labeled as ABC extinguishers and can handle Class A, B, and C fires. Their versatility makes them suitable for various settings, simplifying fire safety preparedness.

  1. Importance of Regular Training and Drills

Understanding the principles of dealing with different fire scenarios is crucial, but practical training is equally important. Regular drills that simulate various fire scenarios ensure that individuals know the correct techniques, extinguishers, and safety protocols. Hands-on experience builds confidence and reinforces the knowledge needed during a real emergency (it is required by OSHA).

  1. Periodic Inspection and Maintenance

Effective fire response involves understanding fire scenarios and ensuring that fire extinguishers are in optimal condition. Regular inspections, maintenance checks, and prompt replacements are essential to guarantee that extinguishers function correctly when needed.

Conclusion: Versatility and Vigilance in Fire Safety

Mastering the elements of fire safety requires versatility and vigilance. The first step is understanding the different fire scenarios and knowing how to select the right extinguisher for each situation. Whether it's Class A, B, C, D, or K fires, having the right tools and techniques at your disposal ensures a swift and effective response. Regular training, drills, and maintenance further enhance preparedness, turning knowledge into action. Talk to a professional from Koorsen Fire & Security to discuss how you can schedule regular testing, maintenance & training today.

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Topics: Fire Extinguisher

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Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is believed to be reliable, but Koorsen Fire & Security assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article. It does not constitute professional advice. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information's accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.