site is intended to provide individuals with general information
pertaining to fire extinguisher types and fire prevention.
With so many fire
extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for your home
can be a daunting task. Everyone should have at least one fire extinguisher
at home, but it's just as important to ensure you have the proper type
of fire extinguisher. Fire protection experts recommend one for the kitchen,
the garage and workshop.
are divided into four categories, based on different types of fires. Each
fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that serves as a guide for
the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle. The higher the number,
the more fire-fighting power. The following is a quick guide to help choose
the right type of extinguisher. Also see how to buy a fire extinguisher.
Class A extinguishers
are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard,
and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers
indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire
it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle)
- Class B fires
involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene,
grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers
indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can
extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square)
- Class C fires
involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit
breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires
- the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers
do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the
extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue
- Class D fire
extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They
are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium,
titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also
have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating
- they are designed for class D fires only. Geometric symbol (Yellow
- Class K fire
extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats,
or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant
and cafeteria kitchens. Geometric symbol (black hexagon)
Some fires may involve
a combination of these classifications. Your fire extinguishers should
have ABC ratings on them.
Here are the most
common types of fire extinguishers:
extinguishers or APW extinguishers
(air-pressurized water) are suitable
for class A fires only. Never
use a water extinguisher on grease fires,
electrical fires or class D fires -
the flames will spread and make the
fire bigger! Water extinguishers are
filled with water and are typically
pressurized with air. Again - water
extinguishers can be very dangerous
in the wrong type of situation. Only
fight the fire if you're certain it
contains ordinary combustible materials
chemical extinguishers come in a
variety of types and are suitable for
a combination of class A, B and C
fires. These are filled with foam
or powder and pressurized with nitrogen.
- This is the regular type of dry
chemical extinguisher. It is filled
with sodium bicarbonate or potassium
bicarbonate. The BC variety leaves
a mildly corrosive residue which
must be cleaned immediately to prevent
any damage to materials.
- This is the multipurpose dry chemical
extinguisher. The ABC type is filled
with monoammonium phosphate, a yellow
powder that leaves a sticky residue
that may be damaging to electrical
appliances such as a computer
Dry chemical extinguishers
have an advantage over CO2 extinguishers since they leave a non-flammable
substance on the extinguished material, reducing the likelihood of re-ignition.
- Carbon Dioxide
(CO2) extinguishers are used for class B and C fires. CO2
extinguishers contain carbon dioxide, a non-flammable gas, and are highly
pressurized. The pressure is so great that it is not uncommon for bits
of dry ice to shoot out the nozzle. They don't work very well on class
A fires because they may not be able to displace enough oxygen to put
the fire out, causing it to re-ignite.
extinguishers have an advantage over dry chemical
extinguishers since they don't leave a harmful
residue - a good choice for an electrical fire
on a computer or other favorite electronic device
such as a stereo or TV.
is vital to know what type of extinguisher you are using. Using
the wrong type of extinguisher for the wrong type of fire can be
These are only the
common types of fire extinguishers. There are many others to choose from.
Base your selection on the classification and the extinguisher's compatibility
with the items you wish to protect.
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