Fire Classifications and Extinguishers
Every family should have a fire escape plan, working smoke alarms, and at least one fire extinguisher on each level of their home. A fire with a stable supply of fuel, oxygen, and heat can double in size within 60 seconds; therefore, quick action is the key to preventing catastrophic damage. Fires, and their extinguishers, are categorized into 5 different classes based on fuel types. An ABC fire extinguisher is typically what most people stock within their homes as it is versatile – it can extinguish 3 out of the 5 fire groups; however, many household fires result from Class K type situations, which require their own specific extinguisher. Read the following information to learn more about these fire groups and the methods to extinguish them.
Class A - Typical sources of these fires include trash, fabric, paper, wood, and plastics. Class A fires are the most common, and they will burn as long as heat, oxygen, and fuel are available. Water is a good extinguisher for these fires because it reduces heat. Water based and foam extinguishers can also be used.
Class B - Fires with fuel bases of flammable gases or liquids, not including those used/produced in the kitchen (see Class K). Some examples of Class B fuels include gasoline, propane, butane, kerosene, alcohol, solvents, and paints. These fires are typically difficult to extinguish, and they produce thick smoke. Water can spread a liquid fuel source, so it is best to extinguish these fires by smothering the flames with a foam extinguisher.
Class C - Fires that originate from electrical equipment. More common in industries that use large electrically sourced machinery, but can occur in homes with faulty wiring, overloaded outlets, etc. The first step to extinguishing these types is to turn off the electricity source. Water should not be used to control electrical fires, neither should foam extinguishers, instead use carbon dioxide and dry powder extinguishers (ABC).
Class D – Fuels for combustible metal fires include titanium, aluminum, magnesium, and potassium. They typically occur in laboratory settings, but can sometimes happen in various business industries. The intensity of a metal fire may be increased using water or foam; so many times fire fighters will allow these fires to burn themselves out.
Class K – Two out of five household fires begin in the kitchen. Their fuel types include vegetable and animal fats, grease, and cooking oil. They can be extremely difficult to extinguish because of the high temperatures in which they burn at. Water will not extinguish these fires, it may even increase their severity by spreading the flames. Class K fires require their own personal extinguisher (K) that contains a wet chemical formula to cool off high temperatures and prevent re-ignition.
Use Caution with Extinguishers
During a fire the immediate concern should be for yourself and your family members. Before you attempt to extinguish a fire make sure the fire department is being called and that everyone in your home is aware of the situation. Only use an extinguisher while a fire is small and manageable. Never try to extinguish a fire if you are unsure on how to use an extinguisher correctly, there will be no time for reading instructions. If you have any amount of doubt regarding extinguishing a fire, don’t do it. Leave it to the fire fighters and get yourself to safety.
If you experience a fire in your home, SERVPRO of Fort Dodge is here to help. Our professionals will quickly assess the impact of the flames, smoke, and moisture to create a personalized restoration plan for your home. If you have fire damage, don’t hesitate to call SERVPRO of Fort Dodge for 24-hour emergency services at (515) 955-4009.