Introduction to Fight Fire With A Correct Extinguisher
People were dealing with the consequences of fire nature since the dawn of humanity. At first, a fire was a mostly uncontrollable hazard, but since the man tamed it, the fire brought huge changes to the life of humankind.
Nevertheless, the threat from the fire didn’t go away. Even more, exactly the opposite happened, the fire brought additional risks to households and production areas.
However, people always learned from their mistakes and started to effectively fight the fire. Early firefighting tactics were discovered back in ancient Rome where the emperor Augustus organized the first firefighting brigades.
Since the nature of fire was mostly ignition of cloth, wood, or other common combustible materials, water was the best choice as an extinguisher.
As progress moved humanity forward, people discovered new materials and technologies that started bringing new fire hazards of previously unknown nature.
New flammable liquids, electronic devices, and complicated mechanisms that in case of ignition won’t be extinguished effectively with water. This pushed fire safety to a new level where people started researching new methods of firefighting catering to different types of fires.
Different Types Of Fires
Generally, when we hear fire we associate it with flames that broke out due to the ignition of such things like wood or paper. However, in spite that this type of fires is the most common one, there are a lot of ignitions of different nature happening around the country annually. The major classification of fires regarding its nature is divided into 5 groups called classes of fire.
Class A fires
are fires that start due to the burning of cloth, wood, paper, plastic, and other regular flammable materials. Any common solid material that caught on fire is classified as class A fire. Since it is the most widespread type of fire, you most surely are already familiar with such an ignition. At some point, you could’ve even caused one by yourself when you played with forbidden matches as a kid in the backyard. This type of fire might happen anywhere from a burning trash can on the street to full-scale fires at industrial areas.
Class B fires
are fires caused by an ignition of combustible liquids such as gas, oil, diesel, alcohol etc. Despite still being a pretty standard ignition, this class of fire is more common in industrial areas or such places as a gas station. Many Americans across the country are used to storing the fuel for the car and lawnmower or lighter fuel for a grill in their garage. Thus, it is important to remember that the ignition of these liquids can cause a class B fire.
Class C fires
are fires that happen due to malfunctioning or around electronic hardware. Usually, this type of fire is caused by reckless use of electrical apparatuses or dysfunction of some old unmaintained equipment. Buildings with old electrical wiring that are prone to damage and poor functioning are in the zone of class C fires risk.
Class D fires
are fires caused by an ignition of combustible metals? Generally, these fires are a rare phenomenon that mostly happens in industrial areas. Factories or warehouses where such metals as aluminum, magnesium, lithium, titanium etc tend to be stored or produced could become an epicenter of class D fire.
Class K fires
are fires that are caused by inflammation of kitchen grease, animal or vegetable oils, and fats. It is yet another common type of fire that may happen anywhere where cooking appliances are located.
Proper Fire Extinguishers For Different Classes Of Fire
An essential purpose of such classification is to understand the nature of a fire and how to effectively fight it. Every class of fire requires a specific approach; using the wrong extinguisher can simply give no result or even worsen the situation.
The heart of any fire extinguisher is its chemical agent. The formula of chemical agents is always designed to effectively fight specific types of fire affecting the elements of the fire triangle (fuel, heat, oxygen) directly.
However, there are 5 different classes of fire, and it would be impractical to stockpile a fire extinguisher for each different hazard. Thus, mankind designed fire extinguishes compatible with a couple of similar classes of fire.
AB, BC, ABC class fire extinguishers.
The basic type of fire extinguisher is usually recommended for household areas, offices, and other places where threats of extraordinary fires are shallow. Using such extinguishers, you have to be sure that it applies to any A, B, or C class of fire. While ABC fire extinguishers are pretty multifunctional, AB and BC ones are applicable strictly on these categories of threat. There are water-based A class fire extinguishers that in case of use on burning liquid or electrical hardware can only spread the fire or even cause injuries. Besides, using AB fire extinguishers on C class fire can cause additional unwanted damage to electrical equipment.
D class fire extinguishers.
When a metal bursts into flames, it creates a very dangerous type of fire which is hard to put out with regular methods. First, metals burn at a very high temperature which makes such substances as water or sand ineffective. Besides, such actions can trigger an aggressive reaction making fire spread sparks, burning particles, and flames to the surrounding surfaces. Thus, class D fire extinguishers are using a special type of chemical agent that causes a chemical reaction, essentially covering the burning metal with a crust and cutting off fuel to suffocate the fire.
K class fire extinguishers.
Kitchen fat, oils, and grease create a very flammable environment of the kitchen. As a bonus, when all these things start to burn, extinguishing them can become a real problem. For the majority of people, an urge to fight burning flame associates with the need to add water. Yet, pouring water over such fire will lead to a disaster. It will only stimulate the burning and can even splash flames onto surrounding surfaces, including a person’s body. The same result can trigger CO2 in class C fire extinguishers. Thus, it is vital to use class K fire extinguishers in such scenarios since it is based on a special wet chemical agent that separates oxygen from fuel and absorbs it.
In spite that firefighting calls for rapid actions, fire safety requires not just blunt responses from you but also knowing how to act in different situations.
One of such piece of knowledge is which fire extinguisher you should or shouldn’t use. Such awareness is a difference between successful fire suppression and additional unwanted damage or injuries.