Which Extinguisher Best Combats Which Fire?

Knowing what to have on hand to put out the flames is important to protecting everything around you.

Fire is perhaps one of the deadliest and most unpredictable things that can happen to any residence or workplace. It can create havoc in seconds, give rise to flames, generate lethal smoke and heat, and damage property and lives. In times of a fire breakout, the right type of extinguisher can make all the difference. In this blog, we will explore the best extinguishers for different types of fires and how each extinguisher works.

Class A Fires

These types of fires occur mainly with combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, trash, and plastics. For Class A fires, the best extinguisher is water. It is readily available and will swiftly cool down and extinguish the surface, suffocating and breaking the oxygen barrier that the fire needs. However, you should avoid using water to smother electrical fires to avoid electrocution.

Class B Fires

These types of fires arise from flammable and volatile liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, oil-based paints, and solvents. A foam extinguisher is the most recommended for Class B fires. Foam can suffocate a fire by covering the surface and breaking the volatile liquid vapors key to fueling the fire's combustion. A dry chemical extinguisher is also useful in such cases, though it can be quite messy.

Class C Fires

These types of fires involve live electrical elements such as computers, electrical outlets, or power lines. You should never use water or foam extinguishers to douse electrical fires. Electrical fire extinguishers or CO2 extinguishers are the safest options since they do not conduct electricity when used and reduce oxygen levels in and around the fire.

Class D Fires

These rare fires can occur in manufacturing plants dealing with volatile metals such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These fires burn at exceptionally high temperatures and are usually very difficult to put out. A dry powder extinguisher is recommended for such unique circumstances. The extinguisher will break down the compound and cut off the fuel source. Never use water to put out class D fires, as water reacts violently with such metals.

Class K Fires

These types of fires happen mostly in kitchens and involve flammable cooking oils and greases. A wet chemical extinguisher is ideal for Class K fires since they take apart and rupture hard fats, oils, and grease layers. Wet chemical extinguishers can also create a thick foam layer that doesn’t allow the oil to reignite.

There's no "one-size-fits-all" solution for extinguishing fires, so knowing which extinguisher to use and when to use it is essential. The appropriate extinguisher will help to limit the risk of harm and destruction to lives and property. Understanding which type of extinguisher is most effective for each fire classification is vital; however, knowing which extinguisher you have on hand also plays a significant role in the event of a fire. Always have extinguishers on hand and ensure they are appropriately marked and in good working order. Stay safe, and don't hesitate to contact your fire-fighting professionals for safety and guidance in fire safety matters.

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