National Fire and Safety Planners Fire Extinguishers 101

May 30, 2023

The Importance of Fire Extinguishers:

Fire extinguishers are essential tools for preventing and controlling fires. But do you know what types of fire extinguishers exist and when and where to use them? When a fire breaks out, it is crucial to act fast and use the right fire extinguisher to put it out. In today’s blog post, we will show you how to identify different types of fire extinguishers and outline the types of fires they are best used on.

Basic Requirements:

While there are many different types of fire extinguishers, guidelines exist to regulate their storage and accessibility. In general, all fire extinguishers should be:

  • Conspicuously located
  • Readily accessible
  • Located along normal paths of travel
  • Visible, or have proper signage (fire extinguisher arrow signs)
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Types of Fire Extinguisher:

There are many types of fire extinguishers, each with their own requirements and specifications. Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers, and it’s important to know the differences between them:

  • A-Class extinguishers are rated to handle fires in wood, paper, cloth, trash, drapes, upholstery and other ordinary materials. These are some of the most common types of fires, and they can be found in homes, offices, and manufacturing. Water is an effective way to extinguish fires like these.
  • B-Class extinguishers deal with fires in gasoline, oils, paints, lacquer, tar and other flammable liquids. Fires like this are often fought with foam, dry powder, or CO2 fire extinguishers, which have a B-Class rating.
  • C-Class extinguishers are designed to put out fires in live electrical sources, such as wiring, overheated fuse boxes, or conductors. The extinguishing agent in these cases cannot be something which conducts electricity, as doing so could result in further injury via electrocution.
  • D-Class extinguishers deal with combustible metals or metal alloys, such as magnesium, or sodium. Magnesium in particular should never be extinguished with water or C02-based extinguishers, as attempting to do so can cause an intense reaction, allowing the fire to spread.
  • K-Class extinguishers are designed for commercial kitchen use and are typically found within 30 feet of these areas. They are designed for fires & cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking media, vegetable or animal oils, and fat.
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Knowing your Fire Extinguisher:

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what the information on your extinguisher actually means. The ULC rating on a fire extinguisher is a measure of its fire extinguishing effectiveness. Let’s take a look at a sample ULC Rating, 3-A:40-B:C and break down what each piece of information refers to.

  • The "3" in this rating indicates the water equivalency of the fire extinguisher. Specifically, 1a would be equal to 1.25 gallons of water, so 2a would be equivalent to 2.5 gallons of water and 3a is equivalent to 3.75 gallons of water.
  • The “A” in this rating tells us that the extinguisher is effective on class A fires.
  • The “40” here represents the square footage that the fire extinguisher can cover.
  • The letters “B” & “C” inform us that the fire extinguisher can be used for class B and C fires as well.

Using your Fire Extinguisher:

Fire extinguishers are only effective if they are used correctly, so regular training and practice are crucial. We provide fire extinguisher training, so that our customers can learn about the different types of extinguishers, and when/how to use them. Each participant receives hands-on experience in operating a fire extinguisher (water-based and/or CO2 extinguishers). This is a fun, interactive experience for your team!

Note: We do not use live fires for this training.

Fire extinguisher training is important for all employees, not just those designated as fire wardens or safety officers. It can help prevent small fires from turning into large ones, minimizing damage to property and injuries to people.

For more information, please call us at (604) 232-3473

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