When it comes fire extinguishers, there are five main types including wet chemical, CO2, dry powder, foam and water. To meet the current regulations, it is important for you to have the exact type of fire extinguisher that is needed for your business premises.
This is because the need for different types of fire extinguisher (or class of fire) depends on the fuel that may have started the fire in the first place. As far as the type of fire extinguisher you will need at your business premises will depends on the fire risk from these various classes of fire.
The first consideration is to ensure you have the right size and weight of fire extinguishers at your business premises to meet the UK’s fire safety regulations.
Even though the fire extinguishers are classified into five main types, the dry powder and water extinguishers have different versions which means there are a total of eight different types of fire extinguishers to choose from. The eight different types of fire extinguishers include specialist dry powder, standard dry powder, foam, water spray, water mist, water spray, wet chemical and carbon dioxide. There is no single fire extinguisher that can be used on all classes of fire.
Classes of Fire
There are six different types of fire classes as follows:
- Class A fires are caused by combustible materials including paper, fabric, wood and other flammable solids.
- Class B fires include fires caused by flammable liquids such as paint, turpentine or petrol among others.
- Class C fires are those caused by flammable gases including methane, butane or hydrogen among others.
- Class D fires include fires caused by combustible metals including potassium, aluminium or magnesium among others.
- Class F fires include those caused by cooking oils such as a chip-pan fire.
- Electrical fires refer to the category of fires involving electrical equipment but upon removal of the electrical item, the fire class is changed.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
- Foam Extinguishers are the most common type used for class B fires. However, these are water-based which means they these can also be used for class A fires. The label colour is cream. Foam extinguishers are needed by business premises such as warehouses, residential properties, hospitals, schools, offices and buildings storing flammable liquids. In simple terms, most of the buildings require the presence of foam or water extinguishers.
- Water Extinguishers are mostly used for class A fire risks. In most premises, it is necessary to have either foam or water extinguishers. It has a bright red label. This type of extinguisher is used for fires caused by materials including fabrics, textiles, coal, wood, cardboard and paper among others. It should not be used for kitchen fires, fires caused by flammable gas and liquids as well as fires that involve electrical equipment.
- Dry Powder Extinguishers are also known as ABC extinguishers as these can be used for class A, class B and class C fires. However, these should not be used in enclosed spaces as the dry powder in the extinguisher can be easily inhaled. Also, it’s not easy to clean up the leftover residue once the fire is over. These can also be used for fires involving electrical equipment. There are also special dry powder extinguishers that are typically used for fires caused by flammable metals. The label colour for this type of extinguisher is blue. This type of fire extinguisher may be used for fires caused by materials including wood, coal, textiles, fabrics, cardboard and paper among others. It may also be used for fires caused by flammable liquids including petrol and paint as well as flammable gases including acetylene and liquid petroleum gas. Any fires that involve electrical equipment up to 1000 V may also be dealt with the help of this fire extinguisher.
- Wet Chemical Extinguishers are designed for use on Class F fires, involving cooking oils and fats. They can also be used on Class A fires although it is more usual to have a foam or water extinguisher for this type of fire risk. The label colour for this type of extinguisher is yellow. Wet chemical extinguishers can also be used for fires caused by wood, coal, textiles, fabrics.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2 extinguishers) are mainly used for electrical fire risks and are usually the main fire extinguisher type provided in computer server rooms. They also put out Class B fires. CO2 extinguishers suffocate fires by displacing the oxygen the fire needs to burn. This type of extinguisher has a black label.
At Hartson Fire, we supply fire extinguishers and related fire safety equipment to a number of business across a variety of industry sectors. You can see our full range of extinguishers and which are most appropriate in different premises in the What Do I Need section of our website.
All of these extinguishers can be ordered from our website or, if you’re still unsure which is the most appropriate extinguisher for your business premises, then we can send one of our expert engineers to your workplace to carry out a free assessment.