Fires, no matter how small they start out, have the potential to cause great damage. They can break out anywhere from a commercial or residential flat to a house bungalow. The most common causes being electrical malfunctions or faults or cooking related accidents.
Many types of materials can cause a fire and there are different methods to extinguish them. It is on that basis that fires are classified from Class A to F in the UK. They are classified differently in the USA and Australia, but we shall be looking at the UK classifications in this blog. It is important to know the type of fire so that you can tackle it better. They can even be important in fire remedial surveys to make sure that instances of similar fires don’t happen in the future.
Here are the fire classifications in the UK and how to best fight these fires.
Class A: Flammable Solids
These types of fires occur where the fire contains particulates of “carbonaceous materials” – in simpler terms — flammable solids. These may include paper, wood or clothing fabric (or curtains) etc. that may catch fire. Water extinguishers – those with a red stripe — are best used to fight these kinds of fires. Wet Chemical (marked with yellow), foam (marked with cream color), dry powder (marked with blue) extinguishers may be equally good in tackling these fires.
Class B: Flammable Liquids
Liquids such as petrol or kerosene, or even drinking alcohol (ethanol), may cause class B fires. These liquids are found in a number of households as they are commercial items for everyday use. When passive fire protection is involved, water fire extinguishers should not be used. Foam or dry powder or carbon dioxide (black striped) extinguishers are best for these fires.
Class C: Flammable Gases
Butane, propane and methane are gases commonly found in gas cylinders to be used for a barbecue party. They are even used in some deodorants. These and other natural gases can easily catch fire and these fires are classified under Class C. Dry powder extinguishers are best in taking care of Class C fires. Remember, water will only make things worse in this case.
Class D: Burning of Metals
These fires include burning metals such as sodium, magnesium or potassium, and can also include some metals similar to titanium (group 4 in the periodic table of the elements). These fires occur in very high temperatures, and are seldom found in nature. There is a specific blue stripe (dry powder) extinguisher to tackle these fires. The powder in these extinguishers should be graphite or copper based for maximum effect. If not doused in time, Class D fires can spread very easily.
Class E: Electrical Fires
Electrical fires are sometimes called Class E fires and it is pretty evident how they’re caused. They can spread quickly if not contained in time. Water should never be used because there’s a risk of electric shock. The most effective way to tackle them is to use dry powder (blue) or carbon dioxide (black) extinguishers.
Class F: Fats and Cooking Oils
Class F fires occur usually in kitchens as there is a heavy use of fats and cooking oils in these places. They could be class B fires in some cases. Fats and oils need high temperatures to get ablaze, and therefore have a separate category. Yellow/wet chemical extinguishers should be used, and water should not be used at all. A fire blanket just as easily may be used instead.