All business owners have the responsibility to assign a fire warden and we can help with our Brisbane Fire Safety Training.

The warden’s responsibilities extend to all aspects of fire protection for your building, staff members, customers, and anyone else visiting your business. That means they must gain at least a foundational understanding of fire extinguishers and the classifications that dictate how extinguishers are used.

There are six fire extinguisher classifications. Each class corresponds to a different type of fire, depending on the source of ignition. There are different protocols for putting out a grease fire in the kitchen or an electrical fire in an office. Your fire warden’s job involves all of the following:

  • Know the difference between types of fires
  • Understand each type of fire extinguisher and other fire safety equipment
  • Run fire drills and other preventative measures
  • Act quickly if a fire breaks out on your property

At Flame Control Industries, education is the backbone of fire safety. We’re committed to offering comprehensive Brisbane fire extinguisher safety resources for businesses of all sizes.

That includes this concise resource that introduces all six fire classifications. We’ll start with a cheat sheet that introduces the six basic types of fire extinguishers.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

  • Water – Water soaks through combustible solids quickly, cooling the material to prevent reignition.
  • Dry Chemical Powder – A thin layer of dust covers the fuel source, preventing it from accessing oxygen from the surrounding air.
  • Carbon Dioxide – Carbon dioxide saturates the fire, cutting off access to oxygen from the surrounding air.
  • Foam – Foam coats the surface of inflamed liquids, stopping vapours from reaching the surrounding air.
  • Wet Chemical – A thick foam that looks much like soap blankets the surface of the fire, blocking access to oxygen from the surrounding air.
  • Vaporising Liquid – Halon or halon carbon agents disrupt the chemical reaction feeding the fire.

Fire Extinguisher Classifications
Armed with that information regarding the types of fire extinguishers, let’s take a look at the six fire classifications to see when you should use each of these extinguishers. Understanding this information will help your fire warden decide what type of fire extinguisher to install in each area of your building.

Class A – Combustible Materials
Any solid material known to release flammable vapours, burn, ignite, or support the combustion of other material is considered combustible. You use many combustible materials every day at home and at work, so understanding them is critical to fire safety.

Here are just a few of the most common everyday materials to spark fires:

  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Fabric
  • Dry garden clippings

You can use four types of fire extinguishers for combustible material fires:

  • Water
  • Foam
  • Wet chemical
  • vaporising liquid

If you only have a dry chemical powder or carbon dioxide extinguisher, you can safely use those on inflamed combustible materials. They’re just not always as effective as the other four options.

Class B – Flammable Liquids
Many liquids are flammable, which means they can catch fire. The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is used to classify all liquids, according to the temperature at which they can ignite. There are four categories with flashpoints ranging from under 23°C to 93°C.

Some businesses are more prone to this type of fire than others. For example, an auto body shop that repairs vehicles may need more knowledge about flammable liquid fires due to the risk of vehicle fires.

Some of the most flammable liquids that you may encounter in a business setting include:

  • Alcohol
  • Oil
  • Petrol
  • Acetone

There are two fire extinguishers that work best for flammable liquid fires:

  • Dry chemical powder
  • Foam

You may also use a carbon dioxide or vaporising liquid extinguisher if it’s all you have on hand.

Class C – Flammable Gasses
Gasses are classified, based on their level of flammability. Not all businesses have flammable gasses on the premise. It’s still important for fire wardens to recognize these gasses to ensure they’re handled properly if they are present.

Some of the most common flammable gasses include:

  • Propane
  • Methane
  • Natural gas

Vaporising liquid extinguishers are the only safe option to put out a flammable gas fire.

Class D – Combustible Metals
If a metal contains particles or small pieces that are capable of catching fire, they’re considered combustible. There are different categories based on the properties of the metal and level of flammability.

Most businesses have metals on the premise, and many people don’t realize that some can spark a fire easily under the right conditions. In dust form, almost all metals can catch fire.

Some metals known for their combustibility include:

  • Magnesium
  • Aluminium
  • Calcium
  • Lithium
  • Sodium

Combustible metals are among the most dangerous fires because they don’t respond well to fire extinguishers. There are some created just for Class D fires, and those are the only ones you should use on this type of fire.

Class E – Electrical Equipment
Virtually all businesses are vulnerable to a fire created by electrical equipment. Think of all the equipment in your office that plugs into electricity. All of those items are considered electrical equipment that could cause or contribute to a fire.

Some equipment known to cause fires includes:

  • Circuit breakers
  • Heaters
  • Transformers
  • Fans
  • Laptops
  • Kitchen appliances

There are three types of fire extinguishers that you can safely use on an electrical equipment fire:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Dry chemical powder
  • Vaporising liquid

Class F – Cooking Oils and Fats
Class F fires often occur in restaurants and food trucks, but they aren’t limited to commercial kitchens. If your business has a break room or kitchen where people are allowed to cook, then your fire warden needs to understand how to handle fires that erupt from cooking oils, fats, and even the gritty build-up that accumulates when many fatty foods are cooked.

A wet chemical fire extinguisher is the ideal option for this type of fire. You can also use a foam extinguisher if it’s all you have on hand. These are the only safe options when cooking fires erupt.

Brisbane Fire Safety Training
If you need education for your designated fire warden, Flame Control Industries can help. Our comprehensive Brisbane Fire Safety Training makes it easy to brush up on the basics of fire protection or dig deeper into more complex materials. Learn more about our on-site training through our website or contact us to explore your options for fire safety training.