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What Do Fire Extinguisher Classifications Mean?

When it comes to putting out fires quickly, reducing property damage, and saving lives, little is more effective than a fire extinguisher in the hands of a capable employee. Of course, the effectiveness of a fire extinguisher depends on its classification and the type of fire you’re dealing with. By learning about fire classes and the extinguishing agents used to fight each one, you can gain a better understanding of which extinguishers to install in your building.

Fire Extinguisher Classes

Fire extinguisher classes are determined by the types of fires they are designed to extinguish. See the purpose of each class below:

  • Class A extinguishers put out ordinary fires that involve everyday combustible materials, including paper, cloth, wood, cardboard, and plastic. This type of fire can occur in any home or typical business setting.
  • Class B extinguishers fight flammable liquid fires. Burning oil, gasoline, kerosene, and propane can spread fire incredibly quickly, making them very destructive. Class B fires can occur anywhere flammable liquids are used or stored.
  • Class C extinguishers are effective at fighting electrical fires without creating an electrocution risk. Any time a spark from a faulty appliance, short circuit, or overloaded outlet ignites a flame, it’s considered a Class C fire, no matter what objects are burning.
  • Multipurpose extinguishers are common. You might find AB, BC, or ABC extinguishers designed to put out a combination of ordinary, flammable liquid, and electrical fires, which are the most common types that occur in homes and businesses.
  • Class D extinguishers are designed for combustible metal fires. Sodium, potassium, titanium, and magnesium are all examples of combustible metals, which may be found in chemical laboratories and industrial buildings.
  • Class K extinguishers put out kitchen fires. Because cooking grease and oil burn at a higher temperature than other flammable liquids, this special classification is needed for restaurants and other commercial kitchens.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Various extinguishing agents are used to put out Class A, B, C, D, and K fires. Consider your choices:

  • Dry chemical extinguishers are the most widely used type of extinguisher. They are effective against Class A, B, and C fires because they create a barrier between the oxygen in the air and the fire’s fuel source to choke out the flames.
  • Clean agent extinguishers put out Class A, B, and C fires. Older halogenated models are still in use, but newer and less ozone-depleting halocarbons are the only type of clean agent extinguishers manufactured today.
  • Water mist extinguishers are safe to use against Class A and C fires. They are a viable alternative to clean agent extinguishers when contamination and cleanup is a concern.
  • Water and foam extinguishers are for Class A fires only. They disrupt the fire triangle by cooling and smothering the flames to cut off the oxygen source.
  • Carbon dioxide extinguishers are effective against Class B and C fires. They replace the oxygen in the vicinity with carbon dioxide and cool the flames with their icy discharge.
  • Dry powder extinguishers are for Class D fires. They are ineffective on all other fire classes.
  • Wet chemical extinguishers are for Class K fires. They work by removing heat from the fire triangle and creating a barrier between the oxygen and the fuel source to prevent re-ignition. You can also use wet chemical extinguishers to fight Class A fires that break out in commercial kitchens.

Contact Unifour Fire & Safety for Fire Extinguisher Sales & Installation

Whether you know the type and number of fire extinguishers you need, or you could use more help pinpointing your building’s fire protection requirements, turn to Unifour Fire & Safety. We have the skills and experience necessary to recommend the correct fire extinguisher classes for your business depending on the fire classes you’re most likely to encounter. Place your fire extinguisher order today, and when the canisters arrive, we’ll install them in your building with safety and code compliance in mind.

To get started, please contact Unifour Fire & Safety today. We provide fire protection services throughout the southeast in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the surrounding areas.