Safety doesn’t just mean having equipment, it means having the correct equipment. Especially when it comes to your fire extinguisher! All fire extinguishers are not created equal they're grouped into three classes that indicate the size and type of fires they are designed to put out. Knowing the difference between classes is key to ensuring safety in the workplace and at home.
Fires caused by combustible materials, such as wood, clothing, paper and rubber, are extinguished with a class A fire extinguisher. Class A extinguishers utilize water or dry chemicals to cool or coat a fire. This type of fire is most commonly found in homes and offices.
Class B fire extinguishers are used to put out fires started by flammable liquids, like gasoline, oil or solvents, and by gasses, like hydrogen, butane or propane. These extinguishers work by stopping the source of the fire, typically the oxygen supply or a chemical reaction. This class utilizes a variety of different agents, including carbon dioxide, foam, dry chemicals and halogen/halocarbon (considered better for the environment).
For electrical fires, caused by short circuits, damaged power lines or overcharged devices, class C fire extinguishers perform best. These fire extinguishers release agents like carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, water mist or halogen/halocarbon to stop the conduction of electricity.
Fires caused by combustible metals, such as magnesium, sodium and titanium, are put out with class D fire extinguishers. These types of fires typically occur in manufacturing, industrial or laboratory settings and react violently with water, air or carbon dioxide. For that reason, class D extinguishers use dry powder to stop the flames.
Class K fire extinguishers eliminate fires caused by the cooking fats, greases and oils that are common in restaurants and commercial kitchens. To put out grease and fat fires, class K extinguishers utilize a wet chemical to create a foam and cover the substance to prevent it from spreading.
It’s important to note that some fire extinguishers fall into several classes. They’re marked on the body of the product, for example, Class ABC, for easy identification.Take stock of your current fire extinguishers and make sure they meet your specific needs. If you find you need to purchase new fire extinguishers, OBBCO can help you find the right ones with our wide selection of fire extinguishers.