-Why Using the Right Class of Fire Extinguisher Is Important
Do you have a fire extinguisher beside your kitchen sink or workbench? Do you know what kind of fires it works on? Fires are divided into classes, and it’s essential to choose an extinguisher that works on the common kitchen fire.
The Classes of Fire
Fires have different classes given to them based on the fuel source it consumes. The reason for this is because some fuels require specific grades of flame retardant to handle correctly. For kitchens, in particular, it is wise to have a Class K extinguisher nearby due to its specialty handling of grease fires. Using anything less may not put the fire out, or worse, cause it to spread by scattering flammable grease pellets.
The following list details different fuel sources, and the class of fire extinguisher that they are compatible with;
Class A Fires
Class A represents ordinary combustibles like paper or regular trash. These can be started like any campfire.
Class B Fires
Technically representing flammable liquids, Class B fuel sources include chemical substances like oils, paints, propane etc. Using direct streams of water against these fires is dangerous because it can cause the fire to spread via droplets. This is why specialized Class B fire extinguishers containing FM-200 are required to put this fire out safely.
Class C Fires
Class C is a fire that involves electrical equipment and can be combined with one of the other classes. Using water on these fires can be deadly since it can induce shock. Have we covered the most common kitchen fire yet??
Class D Fires
Class D is for combustible metals or metal alloys, specifically regarding alkali metals like sodium, lithium, and potassium. These raw chemical metals can be extremely volatile when exposed to certain substances like water or air. They are not as common to encounter every day, but can pose a considerable risk since knowing how to handle them is not common knowledge.
Class K Fires
Class K are fires that involve cooking materials like cooking oils, fats and grease. Grease fires can be tricky to deal with, as they can spread in a similar way to napalm.
Check your extinguisher label to be sure it’s what you need for where it is in your home. You might need something entirely different in the workshop or garage as you do in the kitchen. More information concerning fire safety and the classes of fire can be found here.
Finally, read the instructions on how to operate and periodically check it because you won’t have time when there is a fire!
Government of Canada, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. The Young Workers Zone : Teaching Tools : Physical Hazards: Fire Safety, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 12 July 2010, www.ccohs.ca/teach_tools/phys_hazards/fire_safety.html.