Business & Finance Careers & Employment

Effectiveness of Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

    Class A

    • Class A extinguishers are designed to put out fires of ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood and most plastics. Each extinguisher comes with a numerical rating that tells you how much fire it can put out. APW (air-pressurized water) extinguishers are filled with water and pressurized air. Using a Class A extinguisher on any type of fire other than a Class A fire is extremely dangerous so only use if you’re absolutely positive that it’s only ordinary combustibles.

    Class B

    • Class B extinguishers are designed to put out fires caused by combustible liquids such as gasoline, grease and kerosene. Each comes with a numerical rating that tells you the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish within. A Class B extinguisher is usually composed of dry chemicals and comes in a type of combination extinguisher.

    Class C

    • Class C extinguishers are for fires that are caused by electrical equipment, such as appliances. A class C extinguisher contains a non-conductive agent, which means the contents of the extinguisher does not conduct electricity. These extinguishers are normally filled with a dry chemical.

    Class D

    • Class Ds are usually found in chemical labs. They are for fires that involve combustible metals such as titanium and sodium. These extinguishers do not come with numerical ratings.

    Dry Chemical

    • A dry-chemical extinguisher is usually designed to put out a combination of different classes of fires. For example, a B-C extinguisher is safe for a Class B and Class C fire, and is filled with sodium bicarbonate. Dry-chemical extinguishers can be affixed to a wall or rolled, and they contain a dry chemical in powder form and are filled with pressurized nitrogen.

    Carbon Dioxide

    • Carbon-dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are specifically designed for Class B and C use. They are highly pressurized and filled with carbon dioxide, which is designed to displace the oxygen feeding the fire, causing the fire to extinguish.

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