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The Different Types And Classes Of Fires And How To Approach Them

4th February 2022

At school we’re taught about the different types of fires and how to deal with them, but have you brushed up on your fire safety knowledge since then? The chances are that you haven’t. This is why we have created this blog for you. If a fire starts, it can spread quickly and it’s important that you know how to deal with it, so we’ve put together our list of the different types and classes of fires and how to approach them.

Class A (Solids)

We’ll start this list off with Class A fires. These are fires that involve solids, so the fuel to this fire could be paper, cardboard or wood. These are common fires in offices and manufacturing as they could be fueled by furniture, fixers or fittings. 

In this type of fire, you should only use a water extinguisher, which is the most popular kind of extinguisher as it handles most fires involving solids. If you need more help on which extinguisher your business needs, visit our fire extinguisher page today. 

Class B (Liquids)

Next on the list is Class B fires. These involve liquids so they are usually caused by cleaning fluids, inks, adhesives, solvents and paints. These fires aren’t as common as Class A fires, but they are a lot more dangerous so it’s important that you know what to do with any flammable liquids that are used in your workplace and that you carry out a COSHH assessment. 

In the event that a Class B fire does ignite, you should use a foam or powder extinguisher.

Class C (Gases)

These fires involve gases, which could be natural gasses, liquefied petroleum gas or other types of gasses that form a flammable or explosive atmosphere. 

We advise that you keep stored gases in sealed containers that are in a safe storage area. We also advise that when working with a gas, you ensure that a competent person is carrying out the task. 

In the case of a Class C fire, you can use a dry powder extinguisher but only after the supply of gas has been cut off. 

Class D (Metals)

While metals aren’t usually thought of as a particularly combustible material, there are some types of metal that can be. It’s also important that you know that metals can also be a good conductor to helping fires spread as all metals will melt and soften at high temperatures. This can be a huge problem when metal columns make up the structure of a building. 

In the instance of a Class D fire, you can use a dry powder extinguisher that has been developed to tackle metal fires, however, it is important to note that the powder inside the extinguisher will vary depending on the type of metal fire that it was designed to tackle. 

Alternatively, a smaller Class D fire can be put out by being smothered with dry sand or earth. In the case of a Class D fire, it is absolutely crucial that you do not use water to try to put it out, this is because water can act as an accelerant to metal fires. 

Electrical Fires

An electrical fire is not strictly classed as a class (class E) of fire. This is because electricity is not a fuel, it’s a source. In order to avoid electrical fires, it is crucial that electrical equipment is installed correctly, inspected and maintained by qualified specialists. 

In the event of an electrical fire, you definitely do not want to use water, or any other conductor as that could be fatal. Instead, you can use a carbon dioxide extinguisher or a dry powder extinguisher in low voltage situations. When doing so please ensure that the power supply is turned off before tackling an electrical fire.

Class F (Cooking Fats & Oils)

A class F fire could be caused by deep fat frying and spillages of flammable oils near a heat source in kitchens. We suggest that you don’t leave frying equipment unattended while you’re using them. 

If, however, a Class F fire does start, you should only use a wet chemical extinguisher unless it is a smaller fire, in which case you can use a fire blanket.

Fires can be deadly if you don’t know how to deal with them appropriately, if you need help with fire safety, contact us today.