There are five distinct types of fires, each of which is classified according to the fuel source. Successfully extinguishing a fire is fuel-dependent. A fire requires three components: fuel, oxygen, and heat. To effectively extinguish a fire, one of these elements must be removed. Knowing the difference between different types of fires and how to extinguish them can save lives.
What are the different types of fires and which ones can be safely extinguished with water? Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class K fires are classified. Each type of fire requires a unique flammable material and a unique approach to extinguishing it safely. Attempting to extinguish a fire using the incorrect method can be dangerous and exacerbate the situation.
Class A fires are those that start with solid materials such as wood, clothing, paper, or plastic. These are the most common types of fires and are the ones you are most likely to be familiar with. Numerous Class A fires are started accidentally, for example, when a candle is knocked over or when lightning strikes a tree. Class A fires are the simplest to extinguish, and can be extinguished with a water or foam extinguisher. By extinguishing the fire’s source of heat, the fire is smothered.
Class B fires are those that start with flammable liquids rather than solids. These fires are frequently started by gasoline, alcohol, or oil. It is critical to note that, despite the fact that this Class involves liquid, it does not include cooking fires. Water does not extinguish Class B fires and can actually exacerbate them by spreading the flammable liquid. You must extinguish these fires solely with powder, foam, or carbon dioxide extinguishers in order to deprive the fire of oxygen.
Class C fires are caused by electricity and can be started by worn-out wiring, frayed cords, or malfunctioning appliances. If an electrical fire is detected, you must attempt to disconnect the appliance if it is safe to do so. Put out these fires with a powder or carbon dioxide extinguisher. Water and foam cannot be used because they are both conductors of electricity and could exacerbate the situation. Once the power is turned off, Class C fires revert to Class A status due to the absence of the electrical component.
Class D fires are extremely rare and are caused by metal igniting. These are uncommon because the majority of metals ignite at high temperatures, but alkali metals such as aluminum, potassium, and magnesium can ignite when exposed to water or air. As a result, you cannot use water to extinguish these fires and must instead use a dry powder extinguisher. The powder functions by separating oxygen from the fuel or by removing heat.
Class K fires are those that involve cooking liquids and fats and are occasionally lumped in with Class B fires. These fires have a high flash point and frequently start on the stove when unattended pans are left. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and avoid using water, which can create a dangerous splatter effect. For cooking fires, the best extinguisher is a wet chemical extinguisher.
When confronted with a fire, it is advantageous to understand how to extinguish it and which types of fires can be extinguished with water. As with fires, there are numerous types of extinguishers:
Extinguishers in the Class A category extinguish common flammable materials such as wood and paper.
Extinguishers classified as Class B are used to extinguish grease, oils, and gasoline.
Electrical fires are extinguished with Class C extinguishers.
Class D is for combustible metals.
These extinguishers use either water, foam, dry powder, or carbon dioxide to extinguish fires.
Water extinguishers: These work by removing the heat source and spraying water onto the flames propelled by air.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers: These contain a mixture of gaseous and liquid carbon dioxide that has been compressed to a very high pressure. When the carbon dioxide spray is released, it suffocates the oxygen, starving the fire.
Foam and dry powder extinguishers: Both of these types of extinguishers work similarly, with the canister being filled with either foam or powder. These are propelled by compressed nitrogen and work by depriving the fire of oxygen in the surrounding air.
Multipurpose extinguishers are available for purchase for your home, and they will extinguish most common household fires. The majority of industrial and commercial properties will have extinguishers on-site that are capable of extinguishing any type of fire that might occur in that environment. On Fire Rescue Magazine, you’ll learn the fundamentals of fire extinguishers.
While certain types of fires are more likely to occur than others, it is critical to know how to extinguish them if you come across any of the various types of fires.
How to extinguish a gas fire: Water will be ineffective, but a blanket can be used to smother the flames. Additionally, you can use a powder or foam extinguisher.
How to extinguish a chemical fire: Never use water, as this can further spread the chemicals. Foam or dry powder can be used to extinguish these fires.
How to extinguish a gasoline fire: Extinguish gasoline fires with a foam or powder extinguisher. If possible, smother the fire with wet rags or sand. This method is only effective with a small amount of gasoline.
How to extinguish an electrical fire: Avoid using water. If it is safe to do so, unplug the device or appliance and turn off the power if possible. Use a multipurpose extinguisher or a blanket to smother the flames. Baking soda can also be used to extinguish small electrical fires.
How to extinguish an alcohol fire: You’ll need a carbon dioxide extinguisher or something non-flammable and heat-resistant to do so.
Close the oven door and turn it off to extinguish an oven fire. If flames escape from the oven, you can extinguish them with a multipurpose extinguisher or by sprinkling baking soda on them.
Smothering a fire entails depriving it of oxygen, which can be accomplished with the use of a blanket.