What are the Different Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses
Until this day, I had no idea that there are different types of fire extinguishers of different purposes. If you already have a fire extinguisher in your office or house, do you know what type it is? Is your office or house suitable for the fire extinguisher that you have?
This article about fire extinguisher have all the answers. If you are planning to buy one, then this guide will help you in choosing an appropriate fire extinguisher for your place, whether it is your office or house.
In this article, you will learn about different types of fire extinguisher, what type of fire is for which extinguisher, and how to use it.
What is a Fire Extinguisher?
A fire extinguisher is a portable device that can extinguish small fires in emergencies. This device is kept in places that are easy to access in an emergency in buildings, houses, transportation, and public places.
Why Do You Need a Fire Extinguisher?
You can reduce small fires using a fire extinguisher. But if the fire gets out of your control, this device is used to reduce damages until the arrival of firefighters at the spot. This fire protection device cannot be used on fires that go out of control.
Types of Fires
Before discussing the types of fire extinguisher, it is important for you to know about the types and classes of fires first. Because in case of fires (God forbids) you will need to respond according to the fire class with fire an extinguisher.
Not every fire extinguisher will work perfectly on every fire types. Therefore, if you know about the fire types, you will be able to take proper action in emergencies.
Fires are divided into five classes.
1. Class A
This is the most common type of fires. The fuel sources of class A fires are wood, paper, fabric, trash, straw, plastic, rubber, etc. Although according to the pen and paper, it is considered the most ordinary type of fires, the damages it causes can be very devastating.
2. Class B
Class B fires are more complicated fires than class A. Flammable liquids like petroleum greases, gasoline, kerosene oils, oil-based paints, tars, alcohols, solvents work as fuel for this type of fires. These oils and greases do not involve oils and grease that we use for cooking.
Flammable gases like propane or butane also work as fuel sources for this fire type. Industries that deal with oil based product have a high chance of being victim to class B fires.
3. Class C
Have you ever heard about catching fires from electric sources? This type of fires come into the class C. Electrical fires trigger through motors, electronic transformers, appliances, wires, servers, computers, etc.
If the power is switched off during this type of fires, it turns into other class of fires.
4. Class D
Class D fires generate the fires from combustible metals such as magnesium, zirconium, titanium, lithium, sodium, and potassium. Often this kind of fires catches in laboratories and factories where people deal with chemicals.
Other than that, places where these chemicals are part of the production and process, there is a high chance of breaking out this kind of fires.
5. Class F/K
Class K also known as class F fires. These type of fires are generated from cooking oils, greases, animal and vegetable fats, etc. It is a liquid type of fire. Food courts, restaurants, kitchen room are the places where Class K fires brakes out. This class of fires can be dangerous than you can think of.
Different Types of Available Fire Extinguishers
There are primarily five kinds of fire extinguishers. Also, there are other fire extinguishers too that I’m going to tell you about as well. Each one is specialized in controlling different classes of fires.
1. Water Fire Extinguishers
Water extinguishers are a primary fire extinguisher that can reduce class A fires. Also, it is most commonly used fire extinguisher as well. It contains a bright red label color.
Best Used For
You can use this fire extinguisher on paper, cardboard, fabrics, wood and coal, etc.
How It Works
This type of fire extinguisher uses its cooling effect to reduce the fires. The cooling effect causes the fires to burn slowly, and at one point the flames extinguish.
Appropriate Places of Water Extinguishers
Where to Place a Water Extinguisher?
Place it by the exits points on floors that people would normally run through if there is an emergency.
2. Foam Extinguishers
Foam extinguishers are another widely used fire extinguishers. The color of its label is cream. These fire extinguishers are used for liquid-based class B fires.
The versatility of this foam extinguishers is more than the water jet extinguishers as you can use it on paper and wood as well. They have a label of cream color.
Best Used For
Applying areas of this type of extinguishers are flammable liquids such as petrol and paint, paper, cardboard, fabrics, wood, coal.
How It Works
The foam extinguishers seal off by creating a barrier between the liquid surface and flame and prevent flammable vapor from reaching the air becoming fuel for the fires.
However, these type of extinguishers are not appropriate to use on liquid fires that flow freely, meaning fires that are out of control.
Avoid Using It for
You should not use it for kitchen fires, flammable metals, and electric fires.
Appropriate Places for Using Foam Extinguishers
For most buildings, it is recommended to have either foam extinguishers or water extinguishers.
Also Read: Top Picks Foam Cannon Of This Year
Where to Place Foam Extinguisher?
You should have foam extinguishers by the exits points where it has the potential treat to break out class A or B fires.
3. Dry Powder Extinguishers
Power extinguishers are multi-purpose extinguishers that people use on class A, B, and C types of fire. They are also known as ABC extinguishers.
However, it is not recommended to use it inside any buildings unless there are no other options left. The powder this kind of extinguishers release are inhalable and quite difficult to clean up the residue. That tells you why you should not use it in enclosed spaces.
Power extinguishers come with a blue color label.
Best Used For
Organic materials like paper, cardboard, fabrics, wood, coal, flammable liquids, flammable gases, acetylene, liquid petroleum gas, and electric fires up to 1000v.
Specialist dry powder extinguishers are advised only to use on flammable metals like magnesium and titanium.
You can use it on various types of fires. In case of an emergency use dry powder fire extinguishers on Class A, B, and C.
Avoid Using On
You should not use this type of fire extinguishers on fat pan fires, domestic chip, and class K fires.
How It Works?
Dry powder extinguishers form a barrier between the source of oxygen and the fuel and smother fires.
Appropriate places for using dry powder extinguishers
Where to Place Dry Powder Extinguishers?
You need to keep the extinguishers nearby the source of risk.
4. Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers (CO2)
CO2 fire extinguishers are used predominantly for electrical fires. Firms and industries must have this type of fire extinguishers.
It is the only type of extinguishers that are used to reduce fire in the server room. CO2 extinguishers do not leave residue as it dissipates rapidly.
If you see a fire extinguisher with a black label having CO2 text on it, then it is a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher.
Best Used for
CO2 fire extinguishers are mainly used on electrical fires. But you can also use it on Class B fires, flammable liquids such as petrol, paraffin, and paint.
How it Works
The extinguishers smother fires by displacing oxygen and cutting off the air supply.
Avoid Using On
Do not use CO2 fire extinguishers on Class K fires that include kitchen fires. They are not appropriate to use on paper, wood, fabrics and other combustible materials, and flammable metals as well.
Be advised that if the gas floats away, it has a high chance of reigniting the fires if the sources are not removed.
Appropriate Places to Use it
Where to Place It?
Place the extinguishers nearby the source of electrical equipment and near the exits.
5. Wet Chemical Extinguishers
Wet chemical fire extinguishers have been designed to combat class F or K fires. Fires that trigger through cooking oils, animal and vegetable fats are treated by this type of fire extinguishers. Kitchen room, restaurants must have this type of extinguishers to reduce damages.
You can identify a wet chemical fire extinguisher by seeing a yellow label with a text of "Wet Chemicals."
Best Used for
Class F or K fires types are reduced through wet chemical extinguishers. In addition, you can use them on A and B Class fires as well.
How it Works
Wet chemical fire extinguishers reduce fires by creating a layer of foam around the surface of cooking oil and prevents oxygen from generating further fire. The cooling effect of the spray also helps in this regard.
Avoid Using On
Do not use this type of fire extinguishers on flammable liquid or gasoline fires, flammable metals, and electrical fires as well.
Appropriate Places to Use It
Where to Place the Chemical Extinguishers?
Place it nearby the areas that have a potential risk of breaking out the fires from.
Other Types of Fire Extinguishers
Earlier I have discussed primary types of fire extinguishers. Based on the primary types, there are also some other types of fire extinguishers as well. These are multi-purpose fire extinguishers.
i. Dry Chemical Type
These fire extinguishers are one of the most widely used multi-purpose fire extinguishers that can effectively handle both the class A, class B, class C fires.
The whole thing comes to effect by forming a fence between the fuel elements and oxygen and interferes the fire triangle to produce the chemical reaction.
There are two types of them: ordinary dry chemical and multi-purpose dry chemical fire extinguishers. Regular dry chemical extinguishers only work in Class B as well as C types of fires. While on the other hand, a multi-purpose one can be used in class A type fires too.
These type of fire extinguishers are ideal to use in households, schools, hospitals, businesses.
ii. Water Mist Type
Water mist fire extinguishers are primarily for class A fires. But this recent development can be used on class C fires as well. These extinguishers take the heating element away from the fire triangle.
This type of fire extinguisher uses its cool microscopic water particles that cool the burning objects down and prevent further re-ignition. Although by pen and paper it is water, it is water without minerals.
Therefore, it is very friendly to use on electric fires other than class A fires.
If there are multiple potential fire risks, it would be a good idea to have a couple of water mist fire extinguishers.
iii. Clean Agent
Clean agent fire extinguishers are also known as halogenated fire extinguishers. This kind of extinguishers combines both halo agents and halocarbon agents to interrupt any chemical reaction eliminating the heat created by the fire triangle.
Although clean agent fire extinguishers are primarily for class B and class C fires, they are very successful against class A type as well. However, small handheld one is not that large to get 1 A rating, therefore only works on class B and class C fires.
This fire extinguisher is non-conductive; therefore, you can have it in your room or office filled with electrical equipment.
iv. Cartridge Operated Dry Chemical Type
When the ordinary type of dry chemical extinguishers work only on class B and class C, cartridge operated ones work on class A as well.
It creates an obstruction between fuel and oxygen that intrudes the chemical reaction of the class A fire triangle. Also, it prevents the fires to re-ignite.
v. Fire Blanket
A fire blanket is primarily used on when someone’s clothes catch fire. It works on fires that break out from frying pans and deep fat fryers as well. What a does it, it smothers the fire by not giving access to the oxygen to further fuel the fire.
The blanket is made of few resistant materials like the firemen suit.
How to Use It?
Using a fire extinguisher is not that difficult. Before picking up the extinguisher, check the label. If you can practice how to use a fire extinguisher, it will be easy for you to act in emergencies.
Following the steps will be quite easy if you just remember the word PASS!
P – Pull the pin. Take the fire extinguisher and point its nozzle away from your face and pull the pin to unlock the extinguisher.
A – Aim the hose at the firebase. You maintain a safe distance while aiming at the firebase.
S – Squeeze the lever evenly and slowly. It will discharge the fire extinguisher.
S – Sweep its nozzle from side to side. Start from a short distance, and then move around to nearby areas. Keep on sweeping until the fire is out.
When you use the fire extinguisher, make sure your back is clear for exit and do not waste time if the fire gets out of control and escape through the fire exit. Also, if you see nothing but smoke, leave the area immediately.
After knowing about the types of fires and the types of fire extinguishers, whenever you will pass by an extinguisher, you will get what potential threat does the area has.
If there are multiple fire extinguishers, by seeing the fire type, you will be able to quickly take action with the appropriate fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.
Make sure your escape way is clear. If the fire gets out of control, do not stay in that area and look for an exit point and run to a safe place as soon as possible.