Types of Fire Extinguishers


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A fire extinguisher is the most essential piece of equipment whenever a unexpected fire starts. Even though fire extinguishers may all look the same on the outside what matters is in the inside, so understanding the difference between the types of fire extinguishers is essential. If a fire starts in your work area and you are unaware of what type of fire it is you may make things worse or even injure yourself.

Identify What Is On Fire

This may sound like a silly question but get this wrong and it could be disastrous. You must be recognise the type of fire before grabbing the nearest extinguisher.
Believe it or not materials are placed into a class system if they burst into flames or are part of a fire. These classes include:

  • Class A materials – These include solid materials such as wood, types of plastics and paper.
  • Class B – These are all flammable liquids, so these include petrol, oil, and many other combustible liquids.
  • Class C – This type of fire is quite rare and involves combustible gases that are used in such places as universities. These gases include methane, butane, and propane.
  • Class D – Electrical fires full into this category so items include kitchen appliances, faulty wiring and electrical distribution boards.
  • Class E type. Cooking oil and fat as well as other kitchen cooking material, which are of the greasy kind, would be found under the Class F kind.

Fire Extinguisher Types

(HO2) Water Extinguishers – These types of fire extinguishers are guaranteed to be in almost every building in the UK.
Fire extinguishers that contain water are only suitable for Class A fires, and should under no circumstance should on fires that are electrical.
They should also never be used to extinguish fires that are being fuelled by a combustible liquids (Class D fires)

Foam Extinguishers – Foam extinguishers also full into the same category as water extinguishers. Remember that foam is almost entirely water based. Again these fire extinguishers can be used to tackle Class A and at a push still could put out a Class B fire. They should defiantly not be used to tackle a Class D fire, because they contain to much water.

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Dry powder Extinguishers – This type of extinguisher can be used of the widest variety of fire. This type of extinguisher can be used on almost all classes of fire including Class A, Class B, and Class C fires. So if your were to grab any type of extinguisher this would be the type to grab. The dry powder consists of one main chemical called ‘Monoammonium phosphate’ which is pale yellow in colour and high corrosive on its own.

CO2 Extinguishers – These types of extinguishers will remove all the oxygen that is feeding the fire. Which makes it the best extinguisher to use on Class D fires and electrical fires. Please note however that using this type of fire extinguisher on a paper fire it may not complete put the fire out, and it may reignite because it will not remove the heat completely.

This is a simple guide to fire extinguishers, and once enrolled on a  fire extinguisher training course your tutor will go into much more detail about the classes of fires.

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