Fire Extinguishers and Classes of Fires: Classification System

The Fire Classification System

There are different classes of fire and different types of fire extinguishers for each class. Using the wrong type can make the fire worse or cause serious injury to you. To select the right type of fire extinguisher for use with a particular class of fire, you need to understand (a) the different classes of fires, (b) the different types of fire extinguishers, and (c) the suitability of fire each type for each class of fire.

This short guide will help you to understand the basics of the fire classification system.

Classes of Fire

Fire is separated into five classes, A, B, C, D and F:
  • Class A - Fires involving solid materials, usually of an organic nature, in which combustion normally takes place with the formation of glowing embers (e.g. paper, wood, textiles).
  • Class B - Fires involving liquids or liquefiable solids (e.g. petrol, oil, paint).
  • Class C - Fires involving gases (e.g. hydrogen, propane, butane).
  • Class D - Fires involving metals (e.g. potassium, magnesium, sodium).
  • Class F - Fires involving cooking oil and fats.
Note: Electrical fires (formerly Class E) are not included, as fires involving electrical hazards can fall into any of the five classes.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

There are five main types of fire extinguishers in general use:
  • Water
  • AFFF Foam
  • ABC Dry Powder
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Wet Chemical

Class of Fire & Type of Fire Extinguisher to Use

Fire Classification System and Type of Extinguisher to Use
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