The characteristics of one fire can differ enormously from another. At TransPro Systems, we understand that education plays a vital role in protecting ourselves against fire. TransPro Systems is here to help you stay informed and stay safe, which is why our experts have decided to share this guide to fire classification.
Understanding the type (or ‘class’) of blaze you are facing is essential for identifying the appropriate means of fighting it. Overlooking the differences could mean your attempts to control a fire make it much worse, further endangering your life and the lives of others. Let’s look at the various types of fire and how we categorise them:
Possibly the most common type of fire, Class A fires occur when ordinary combustible solid materials such as wood, paper, rubber, textiles, and some plastics are heated to their ignition point. As long as there is heat, oxygen and fuel available, Class A fires will continue to burn.
Class B fires are fires involving flammable liquids and gases. Liquids such as gasoline, petroleum oil, alcohol and paint have a lower flash point, meaning they burn more easily. Flammable gases like butane and propane are typically stored in pressurised containers, and result in some of the most dangerous fires due to the increased likelihood of explosions.
Class B fires do not include burning grease or cooking oil – we’ll come to that soon!
Where energised electrical equipment is involved, we call these Class C fires. This equipment can include motors, transformers, or almost any other electrical appliances found in your workplace or home. It is the electrical ignition that determines Class C fires; without this the fire becomes one of the other classes of fire. Unlike Class A fires, you should NEVER use water on a Class C fire because of the risk of electrical shock.
Fires where combustible metals are concerned are referred to as Class D fires. Although most metals are difficult to ignite, there are some which are extremely volatile. Potassium, sodium, aluminium, and magnesium can even burn when in contact with air or water, which means putting the fire out can be very challenging. Often in the case of Class D fires, the safest approach for the fire department to take is to let the fire suffocate and burn itself out.
Much more commonplace in the home or commercial kitchens, Class K fires occur when cooking oils and greases are ignited. The temperature at which a Class K fire burns makes it hard to extinguish, and the instinctive reaction of dousing the flames in water will only serve to spread the flames, creating a ball of fire that can prove catastrophic for anyone nearby. NEVER pour water on an oil fire!
As an authority in fire control solutions, TransPro Systems is here to help you prepare for and prevent fire emergencies. If you would like more information on how to protect your property, your customers or your loved ones then speak to one of our experts.