The list of “things to have” when running a business is exhaustive. For example, you have to pay your employees, provide them with tools to complete their work, and in most cases provide them with a safe environment to work in.
What many business owners do not realize is that a large part of safety is being prepared for emergencies. Say a nearby apartment fire gets too close to your office and lights up your building. Simply having a fire extinguisher on site will not suffice if such an emergency ever calls for it.
The fire extinguisher is one of the most widely used safety tools available. Many do not realize is that there are many different types of fire extinguishers. Each of which, is designed to battle specific types of fires. The classification of fires is based on what fuel source is feeding the flame and every fire extinguisher is based on how effective it is at putting it out. This raises the question, “Do I have the right fire extinguisher to fit my business’ needs?”
Below we list the five different classes of fire and the best methods of putting them out.
These fires are usually defined as “ordinary combustibles”. Commonly fueled by materials such as wood, fabric, paper, trash, and plastics. Class A fires are t common accidental fires encountered by most industries. So chances are, if you are working in a typical office environment, you are dealing with a Class A. The most effective way to extinguish these types of fires is by using water or a chemical called Monoammonium Phosphate. Monoammonium Phosphate is found in your basic fire extinguisher or high-grade fertilizers.
The Class B fire associated with fires that use flammable liquid or gas as a fuel base. These include petroleum-based oils, kerosene, gasoline, and many paints. Class B fires are typical in many industries that deal with fuels and lubricants, such as, manufacturing. To put out this type of fire use a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, these will expel CO2 to smother the fire, removing oxygen need to keep the fire burning. Also, it will alleviate the heat due to its very cold discharge.
Often defined as “electrical fires” Class C uses electrical components and/or energized equipment as its primary fuel source. Often times they are fueled by motors, electronic transformers, and appliances. You would typically come across a Class C if you work delsl with large amounts of energy or heavy manufacturing equipment powered by electricity. It isn’t entirely uncommon to see these types of fires in smaller-scale settings as well, due to bad wiring or faulty surge protectors. To combat Class C fires, you should try to cut off the power fueling them. Then employ the use of a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher or dry powder extinguisher. Never, ever use water on these types of fires.
Class D fires are ones that are fueled by combustible metals which include magnesium, aluminum, potassium, and titanium. These classes of fires are typically found in laboratory environments where these materials are most common. If you ever confront a Class D use a dry powder extinguisher, these will absorb the heat that the fire requires to burn, while also smothering the flame.
Similar to the Class B fires, Class K fires are also fueled by combustible liquids. The main difference between the two, being that Class K fires are fueled by liquids common to cooking, such as greases, cooking oils, and vegetable/animal fat, whereas, Class C fires are fueled by liquids such as petroleum-based oils, and gasoline. Because of their fuel source, Class K fires are most often found in the foodservice and restaurant industry. To combat these fires wet chemical fire extinguishers are often used.
What kind of industry do you work in? Did you ever think about the type of fire extinguisher you would need? It may not seem like a problem now, due to your safety regulations in place, but trust us. You’ll want the proper equipment should a problem ever arise.