Did you know there are actually five distinct types of fire? The types (A, B, C, D and K) are classified based on the kind of fuel that is burning. Knowing how to correctly identify the class of a fire is an important safety skill. Using the wrong kind of extinguishing agent can actually make the fire worse. This guide will help you understand the five fire types and learn how to safely put each of them out.
Class A Fires—This kind of fire involves combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash and plastics. Class A fires are most used for bonfires, camping stoves and other controlled circumstances. This is the easiest to put out because the most effective extinguishing agent is water. Alternatively, you could cut off the fire’s source of oxygen and smother the fire. To prevent this kind of fire from starting accidentally, make sure you store flammable material far away from possible sources of ignition.
Class B Fires—This fire type involves flammable liquids, solvents, oil, gasoline, paint and other oil-based products. It can occur anywhere flammable liquids or gases are stored, such as a gas station. Remember: Do not try to use water to extinguish a Class B fire. Water can actually spread the flames even further. Instead, use a foam, powder or carbon dioxide extinguisher.
Class C Fires—Class C fires are those involving faulty electrical equipment. First, unplug the appliance from its power source (if it is safe to do so). Then use a carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher. To prevent this type of fire from occurring, check your cords regularly for frays, and avoid overloading circuits.
Class D Fires—This type of fire only occurs when metal ignites. Metal only catches fire under extreme heat, so it is rare for a Class D fire to occur outside of a laboratory. However, if you were to face a Class D fire, you should use a dry powder extinguisher.
Class K Fires—This type of fire involves cooking oil. This is the most common type of fire to occur in a kitchen, and usually breaks out when a pan is left unattended. To extinguish a Class K fire, use a wet chemical extinguisher. This type of fire can be prevented by remaining in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Remember: Don’t use water on a Class K fire as it can splatter and cause the fire to expand.
Because all fires are different from each other, the method of extinguishing them must be different, too. Consider looking online for a fire classification infographic to post in your home so you know what to do in the event a fire breaks out.