7 Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are a requirement in every household or establishment. Some state laws also require more than one fire extinguisher depending on the size of your property. It helps to have at least one at home as a safety precaution against fire.

So, are there different types of fire extinguishers?

There are seven types of fire extinguishers but before we discuss their differences, it may be helpful to understand the various classes of fire.

6 Classes of Fire

  1. Class A: This type of fire is typically caused by combustible materials like paper, cloth, wood, and other solid objects that can easily catch fire.
  2. Class B: These are flammable liquids such as oil, fuel, gasoline, grease, turpentine, paint, petrol, diesel, liquor and alcohol.
  3. Class C: This class involves flammable gases, like methane, butane, propane and hydrogen.
  4. Class D: This is categorised as metallic fire. They typically involve metals such as aluminium, zirconium, titanium, lithium, magnesium and potassium.
  5. Class F: This is sometimes known as Class K fire or kitchen fires. When you are cooking and fire breaks, the fire is considered class F. It may be caused by deep fryers, cooking oils, chip-pan fire and other cooking appliances.
  6. Electrical Fires: These are fires emanating from electrical wiring, outlets and equipment. However, it may be noteworthy that once the electrical source is removed, the fire changes its class accordingly.

Now that you know the different classes of fire, let’s discuss what and how fire extinguishers can help put off these kinds of fire.

7 Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers vary in composition. Some are in the form of liquid, foam, powder and gas. Remember to use the right type of fire extinguisher in every situation to ensure safety and to prevent the fire from spreading.

Here are the 7 types of fire extinguishers:

1.    Water-Fire Extinguishers

Water fire extinguishers are typically used for class A types of fire. They are most effective to combat fire caused by combustible materials. This type of fire extinguisher is usually labelled in red.

Remember to NEVER use it directly on an electrical fire, kitchen fire, Class B and C fires. Although some water fire extinguishers can be used on electrical equipment, they must have undergone di-electrical testing and extreme caution should be observed.

Water fire extinguishers offer a cooling effect. Once the water is sprayed into the burning materials, it cools down the fire making it burn at a slower rate until the flames completely die down.

2.    Foam Fire Extinguishers

Foam fire extinguishers are most recommended for many buildings. They are highly effective in putting off Class A and B fires. They typically have cream labels and if di-electrically tested, they can be used for electrical appliances.

This type of extinguisher has a foamy consistency that prevents the reignition of fire. Once the extinguisher is sprayed over the fire, it seemingly expands over and blankets the flame, preventing oxygen accumulation to feed the fire.

3.    CO2 Fire Extinguishers

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are designed to fight Class B fires and are considered the cleanest type of extinguisher. They do not leave any residue, hence, do not require a laborious cleanup. This type of fire extinguisher can also be used for an electrical fire.

CO2 fire extinguishers have a black label. They work by eliminating the oxygen in the fire, seemingly suffocating it until the flames are extinguished. It is advisable in buildings dealing with flammable liquids or a lot of electrical equipment.

4.    ABC Powder Fire Extinguishers

As the name implies, this type of extinguisher is best for Class A, B and C fires. It is a multipurpose fire extinguisher with a blue label and can also be used for electrical fires. Although they are very useful, they are not highly recommended in enclosed areas because of the risk of inhalation of the dry powder.

Similar to foam fire extinguishers, they tend to blanket the flames and reduce the accumulation of oxygen until the fire dies down. ABC powder fire extinguishers consist of mono ammonium phosphate that efficiently stops the chain reaction that often happens when a fire breaks.

5.    Water Mist Fire Extinguishers

Water mist fire extinguishers are different from water fire extinguishers. They are best used for Class A, B, C fires and burning electrical equipment. They are typically labelled in white and can also be highly effective for kitchen fires.

When water mist fire extinguishers are sprayed over the flames, they release water molecule microspheres that disperses in fog-like form. It, then, decreases and suffocates the oxygen that ignites the fire. The water composition also helps cool down the burning material slowing down the spread of fire.

What makes this highly efficient in combating fire as compared to water fire extinguishers is that the water is deionised, meaning the minerals have been removed. Thus, unable to conduct heat and fire, making it effective for electrical fires.

6.    Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

You can easily spot this with a yellow label. Wet chemical fire extinguishers are highly recommended to be placed in the kitchen area. They are specifically engineered for combustible cooking mediums like cooking oil and grease.

The major component of a wet chemical fire extinguisher is potassium. It offers two fatal assaults to kitchen fires – one, the liquid component cools off the flame and two, the chemical reaction of potassium to the cooking medium prevents it from reigniting.

In some cases, they can also be used for organic combustibles such as paper, wood, fabric and coal. Remember to NEVER use this type of extinguisher to Class B fires.

7.    Clean Agent Fire Extinguishers

A clean agent fire extinguisher is known for its gaseous fire suppression capabilities. It is typically stored in metal cylinders in liquid form but when it is sprayed, it is converted to gas form. This makes it safe, non-conductive, and eco-friendly.

It consists of a chemical compound known as Halon. It works by reducing the heat and oxygen components of fire, rendering it weak and unable to spread. Clean agent fire extinguishers are best for Class B and C fires.

 

Keep in mind that each class of fire needs a different type of extinguisher. It also helps to undergo fire emergency training to know more about fire extinguishers and how to use them properly.

Contact Workplace Emergency Management to learn more!

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