Choosing a correct type of fire extinguisher could be challenging. There are different types of fire extinguishers with different sizes. Unfortunately, there is no single type of fire extinguisher that can be used on all kinds of fires; therefore, selecting the correct type of extinguisher as well as size is important.
Choosing a correct type of fire extinguisher starts with determining what kind of fire you might be dealing. Once you determine the possible combustible materials in the area, you will consult the classes of fire. The following are the fire classes:
- Class A: combustible solid materials, i.e. paper, fabric or wood.
- Class B: flammable liquids and gasses i.e. petrol, paint, propane or diesel.
- Class C: electrical fires, i.e. computers, servers, or generators.
- Class D: combustible metals, i.e. magnesium, lithium or aluminum.
- Class K: cooking materials, i.e. cooking oils or fat.
Once we determine the fire class, we will look at the fire extinguisher types.
Pressurized Water Fire Extinguishers
Pressurized water is probably the far most cost-effective fire extinguisher you could have to put out Class A fires. You could use it on a fire that is fueled by wood, fabric, and paper. It extinguishes a fire by cooling effect and reducing oxygen. These extinguishers can be pressurized by air or nitrogen. Do not use it on other fire classes!
Foam fire extinguishers are for Class B fires; however, they can be used on Class A fires as they are water-based. The foam creates a cooling effect and prevents the fire from re-igniting. Cleaning of the surface should be performed after putting out a fire as foam leaves residue behind. Although their price is higher than water extinguishers, they are considered as cost-effective fire extinguishers.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Fire Extinguishers
They are used for Class C fires. They can extinguish Class B fires as well; however, they are not cost-effective on Class B fires. They consist of pressurized carbon dioxide, which does not leave any residue behind. Therefore, it can be used on computers, servers, etc.
Dry Chemical (Powder) Fire Extinguishers
These are the most common fire extinguishers that we use. ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers put out Class A, Class B, and Class C fires. They can also be used on electrical fires, which they can put it out; nonetheless, the fire can re-ignite as it does not cool it and the chemical powder will damage electrical components. Cleaning its residue is tough. Because it has chemical powder, inhaling it could cause breathing problems.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
These extinguishers are for Class K fires. They are also called K Class fire extinguisher. In B.C. they are mandatory in restaurants and commercial kitchens. Although K Class can put out Class A fires; due to its higher price, pressurized water, foam or dry chemical should be preferred for Class A.
Otis Fire can help with your fire extinguisher need. We also provide annual fire extinguisher inspection. Contact us for more detail.