Easy Fire Prevention: Extinguishers & Fire Types

Mike Rich

Fire Safety Types Made Simple 

Fire safety is an important business. According to National Safety Council figures, losses, due to workplace fires, total nearly $3 billion each year, and claims more than 350 lives . Therefore, knowing fire safety types is critical.

There is a long and tragic history of workplace fires in this country. One of the most notable was the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911 in which nearly 150 women and young girls died because of locked fire exits and inadequate fire extinguishing systems.

History has repeated itself recently in the fire in Hamlet, North Carolina, where 25 workers died in a fire at a poultry processing plant. It appears that here, too, there were problems with fire exits and extinguishing systems.

To protect employees from the perils of workplace fires, this article will examine the different classes of fires and the type of extinguisher to use on those fires.

1. Class A

Class A or Ordinary Combustible fires involve blazes using fuels such as wood, paper, plastic, rubber, and cloth. The fire extinguisher symbol for this class of fire is a green triangle with the letter A in the center. Also a wood pile is used to symbolize Class “A” fires.

2. Class B

Class B fires involve flammable and combustible liquids or gases. However, this also includes any hydrocarbon- or alcohol-based liquids that will support combustion. A red square with a capital “B” and a pictogram with a fuel can and fire are commonly used to symbolize Class “B” fires.
Older extinguishers were generally B-C types and had Carbon Dioxide in them. Also important, Carbon Dioxide is an inert gas.

3. Class C

A class C fire is one that involves energized electrical equipment. A BLUE CIRCLE with a capital “C” and a pictogram with an electrical cord and plug, and a flaming receptacle are commonly used to symbolize Class “C” fires. When the fuel source is de-energized, it can then be classified as “A”, “B”, or “D”.

4. Class D

A class D fire is one that involves combustible metals. Examples of these types of metals are: zirconium, titanium, potassium, and magnesium. A YELLOW STAR with a capital “D” (no pictogram) is commonly used to symbolize Class “D” fires. Also within this fire classification, the extinguishing agent may vary, and it must be compatible with the anticipated use.

5. Class K

Class K is for fires in unsaturated cooking oils in well insulated cooking appliances in commercial kitchens. This class has no related symbol as yet, but it can be identified by a pictogram of a flame in a frying pan.
These extinguishers utilize a “misting wand” to deliver the extinguishing agent in a fine mist onto the surface of the hot cooking oil. These extinguishers are usually filled with potassium acetate diluted with water. Finally, dry types have potassium bicarbonate.

We have complete OSHA compliant safety solutions for all your needs. Call (877) 201-8923 today to speak with one of our highly skilled safety experts about fire safety types.

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