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How to Choose The Right Fire Extinguisher

Before you choose a fire extinguisher for your business, it’s important to consider the types of fire you expect in the building so you can choose wisely.

Classification of Fires

The different types of fires are classified with letters ranging from A to D. Once you understand the classifications, these letters make it easier to choose the right fire extinguisher for your business.

The first classification is class A. This category contains ordinary combustible material that is commonly found in businesses, such as wood, drapes and trash. Fire extinguishers that have chemical foam, water, or dry chemical powders are commonly used on class A fires.

Class B fires are caused by flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, or paint. To fight class B fires, be sure to have a carbon dioxide, dry chemical, halon, or aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) fire extinguisher in your business.

Electrical fires are classified as class C fires. These usually involve electrical equipment. You can use halon, dry chemicals, or carbon dioxide to put out a class C fire.

A class D fire happens when combustible metals, such as magnesium or titanium, catch fire. The dry powder used to put out the fire varies depending on the metal involved so it’s important to speak to a professional fire protection technician if your warehouse or business has combustible metals on the premise.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Most people think of a fire extinguisher containing pressurized water when asked about fire extinguishers. A water fire extinguisher is handy when dealing with class A fires, combustible ordinary materials, but should never be used on a class B or class C fire.

Another good bet for class A fires is a fire extinguisher that releases chemical foam (AFFF). This flame-smothering foam can also be used to put out class B fires.

Compressed gas fire extinguishers can be used for class B and class C fires. These normally contain carbon dioxide. Older compressed gas fire extinguishers may contain halon. Newer extinguishers no longer use halon since you need to wear proper respiratory equipment when using it in an enclosed space. This can be tough to put on when there’s a fire in progress. If you do use a halon gas fire extinguisher, be sure to properly air out the affected area before returning to work. If you’re uncertain if the area is safe and clear of halon, call an expert. If you do discover halon-filled fire extinguishers, you may want to replace them with newer compressed gas fire extinguishers to avoid potential problems.

If you need a fire extinguisher for your business, a multi-purpose dry chemical fire extinguisher is a good choice. You can find it easily in any Kitchener retailer that sells fire extinguishers or contact a company that deals in fire prevention for a full assessment of your business’s circumstances. A dry chemical fire extinguisher releases pressurized powder to smother the flames. It works well for class A, B, and C fires.

Fire extinguishers are not a one-size-fits-all solution to fire control so do your homework before equipping your business.

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