Know Your Fire Types
Did you know that if you battle a fire with the wrong type of fire extinguisher you could make the fire worse? For example, use an extinguisher that contains only water on a flammable liquid fire and you’ll spread the fire and put yourself in further danger. But don’t worry. Fires are divided into five classes and fire extinguishers are specifically made to battle one or more of the fire classes. All this is easier than it may sound. Here are the basics.
1. Remember: safety first. Do not try to fight a large fire by yourself. You’re much better off letting professionals handle any fire. One general rule of thumb is that if the fire is bigger than you are it’s too big for you to put out safely.
2. Only use a fire extinguisher when: 1) the fire is confined to a small area, and is not growing; 2) the room is not filled with smoke; 3) everyone else has exited the building; and 4) the fire department has been called.
3. Most portable fire extinguishers are capable of putting out multiple types of fires. Commercial and residential extinguishers primarily suppress Class A, B, and C fires.
Call the fire experts. Call SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield at 860-216-2785.
4. Below is a list of fire classes and the extinguishers that put them out. Always check the extinguisher you’re about to use to make sure it’s designed to fight the type of fire you have. The type of fire or fires that an extinguisher can put out should be clearly visible on the label. If you’re not sure, the safest thing to do is to evacuate the area.
Class of Fire: A (A in a green triangle)
Fires of ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, cardboard, most plastics, and cloth
Extinguishers to Use: Water, Foam Spray, ABC Powder, or Wet Chemical
Class of Fire: B (B in a red square)
Fires of flammable liquids like petroleum, kerosene, grease, and others (but not alcohol or cooking oil)
Extinguishers to Use: Foam Spray, ABC Powder, or Carbon Dioxide
Class of Fire: C (C in a blue circle)
Fires of energized electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets
Extinguisher to Use: ABC Powder
Class of Fire: D (D in a yellow star)
Fires of combustible metals like magnesium, titanium, sodium (often found in chemical laboratories).
Extinguishers to Use: ABC Powder or Carbon Dioxide
Class of Fire: K (K in a black hexagon)
Fires of cooking oils, trans fats (often used in restaurants).
Extinguisher to Use: Wet Chemical
5. The most common type of portable fire extinguishers are multipurpose, dry chemical, ABC extinguishers. They’re small, easy to operate, and can put out the majority of fires you may come across. Most have 10 to 20 seconds of discharge with a range of 8 to 12 feet.
6. Author and 20 year fire-fighting veteran Scott Finazzo says you should not use a fire extinguisher unless you can say yes to all of these questions:
Are there two or more ways for you to escape from the fire?
Do you have the correct extinguisher for the type of fire?
Is the extinguisher capable of putting out the size of fire you are facing?
Is the area free from other hazards?
Can you put out the fire in 5 seconds or less?
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