The Elements of Fire

Fire is not just fire. There are, in fact, different types of fire depending on what material is being burned. There are four elements that must be present for a fire to start: heat, oxygen, fuel and a chemical reaction between the other three elements. To extinguish a fire, you need to remove any one of these elements.

Here are the different types of fire:

Class A – These are fires caused by the combustion of ordinary materials such as paper, wood, clothing and plastic.

Class B – These are fires caused by liquids that are flammable including petroleum, gasoline, paint and oil. This category also includes flammable gases like butane and propane. Such fires do not include those involved in cooking oils.

Class C – This class of fire involves electrical fires with electrical equipment such as transformers and motors. Removing the source of electricity turns this class of fire into a different class of fire.

Class D – Combustible metals make up this class of fire, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and aluminium.

Class K – These fires involve the oils and grease present in cooking and include animal and vegetable fats.

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There are different fire extinguishers used for each class of fire and some which can be used on more than one type of fire. Remember an attempt to extinguish a fire should only be made is the fire is contained and small, you are inhaling smoke and you have an open and easily available means of escape.

On discovering a fire, raise the alarm, assist any individuals who might struggle with evacuating the building and only then, think about using an extinguisher if it’s safe to do so. All places of business should have a regularly checked fire procedure, evacuation point and fire risk assessment. Keloscape are fire risk assessors in Gloucester. Visit their website for professional Fire Risk Assessment Gloucester.

Different Types of Extinguishers

Water and Foam – Remember that to extinguish a fire, you only need to remove one of the four elements. Water and foam extinguishers remove the heat element from a fire. They are for Class A fires only. The foam also acts to separate the oxygen element from the other components too.

Dry Chemical – These types of extinguishers eliminate the chemical reaction element from a fire. They are very useful to have as they can be used effectively on Class A, B and C fires. The dry chemical separates the oxygen and the fuel elements on Class A fires.

Wet Chemical – This extinguisher removes heat from the fire and prevents reignition by forming a barrier between the fuel and oxygen elements. They are used primarily for use in commercial cooking for Class K fires but can also be used on Class A kitchen fires.

Carbon Dioxide – These remove the oxygen from a fire and as the contents is very cold, also serves to extinguish the heat element too. They are mainly for use on Class B and C fire types.

Dry Powder – These extinguishers separate the fuel and oxygen and remove the heat source. They are only to be used on Class D metal fires and will not work on any other type of fire.

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