Fire extinguishers can play a critical role in an emergency. However, it is important to know that not all fire extinguishers are created equal. They are specifically created to put out fires created from certain types of material. Anyone that is expected to operate a fire extinguisher should be trained for the type they will be using as well as when they should use it and how. There are five types of extinguishers. We will review each.
- Class A fire extinguishers will work on ordinary materials such as paper, wood, cloth; anything combustible.
- Class B fire extinguishers should be used on fires that involve flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, solvents, fuels, paints, grease etc.
- Class C fire extinguishers are used for electrical fires. This could be a fire from an appliance, tool, or any other equipment that is plugged in.
- Class D fire extinguishers are designed to be used with flammable metals such as potassium or magnesium. *Some Class D extinguishers may be designed for use on a specific metal and should be researched before use.
- Class K fire extinguishers are designed for use in kitchens. They work to put out cooking oil or grease fires.
Always know which type of extinguisher is in the area and what it is capable of being used on. This is generally explained on the extinguisher and should only be used for that purpose. When used on the wrong type of fire the extinguisher may not work or even spread the flames.
There are extinguishers that can be used for more than one type of fire such as ABC. They key is planning ahead so that the response is automatic.