A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is often a forgotten “must-have” equipment for your home. Check out the types of fire extinguishers and get a basic fire fighting kit now!

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Fire Extinguisher Types: How to Choose the Right Class

When it comes to fire safety, it is important to know that not all fires are the same. Different fuels create different fires, and this is where different types of fire extinguishers come into play. The first step is to look at what materials are present in the area to be protected from the fire. These can be divided into six categories of fire involving different substances:

  • Class A, combustible carbon-based solids like paper, wood or textiles.
  • Class B, flammable liquids like paraffin, petrol, or diesel.
  • Class C, flammable gases like butane, propane or methane.
  • Class D, burning metals like aluminium, lithium or magnesium.
  • Fires caused by electrical equipment (indicated by an electric spark symbol and not the letter E)
  • Class F, fats and cooking oil.

Fire Extinguisher Types and Uses

Water

Water extinguishers are only suitable for Class A fires consisting of paper, wood, coal, rubber, solid plastics, and soft furnishings. They are the simplest, most common, and least expensive type of extinguisher. Water extinguishers are the easiest to maintain and the least hazardous since they only contain water. Electrical equipment should be avoided when using a water extinguisher (unless water with additives is used.)

AFFF Foam

Foam extinguishers are highly effective in solids (Class A) and liquids (Class B) because the foaming agent helps to prevent re-ignition. Some foam extinguishers have been dielectrically tested to 35000 Volt (35kV) and can be used on or near electrical appliances.

CO2

CO2 fire extinguishers were originally designed for use on flammable liquid fires (Class B). CO2 is also ideal for electrical fires because it does not cause damage to the electrical items or cause the system to short circuit, they don’t leave behind any harmful residues as well.

Dry Powder

These are extremely versatile and can be used on Class A, Class B, Class C, and electrical fires. They are available in a range of sizes from 1 to 9kg and are ideal for application in environments containing mixed fire risks. However, the powder is hazardous if inhaled, so it should be used in well-ventilated areas and are not suitable for offices and domestic premises.

Water Mist

This fire extinguisher is safe and effective to use on Class A, B, C, and F fires, making it unnecessary to supply more than one type of extinguisher in most premises. The unique design of the water mist extinguishers' supersonic nozzle creates a microscopic mist curtain, reducing the oxygen content. Some are also suitable for use on electrical fires on equipment up to 1,000 Volts, such as computers and printers.

Wet Chemical

These are the only extinguishers apart from water mist suitable for Class F fires (fats and cooking oils) and are mainly used in kitchens with deep fryers. They can also be used on Class A and some can be used on Class B fires.

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