Workplace safety is of primary importance in any business. Portable fire extinguishers are typically the first line of defence when a fire is detected in your work environment. At that critical time, the fire department must be called right away. However, if the fire is still small or in order to aid escape, the right fire extinguisher that has been properly maintained can help in minimizing potential injuries to your staff or clients, and also in controlling the damage that the fire can cause to your business.
Learning what fire extinguisher does what will help you make the right choice when you acquire your fire extinguishers. Materials involved in a fire are classified into six classes:
- Class A: this involves solids like wood, paper, plastics, etc.
- Class B: this involves liquids that are flammable. Examples are oil, petrol, etc.
- Class C: this involves gases that are flammable. Examples are methane, propane, butane, etc.
- Class D: this involves metals like magnesium, aluminum, etc.
- Class E: this involves electrical equipment
- Class F: this involves fat and cooking oil
Here is a brief summary on what fire extinguisher does what:
- Water extinguishers are used for Class A fires. They are the least expensive. They are not appropriate for fires caused by flammable liquids or that involve electricity.
- Foam extinguishers are used for all liquids, including flammable liquids (Classes A and B). They should not be used on electrical fires, but they are safer than water if they are used on electrical equipment.
- Dry Powder extinguishers are good for many purposes. You can use it on all liquid and gas fires (classes A, B, and C). However, for gas fires, you must isolate the gas supply before you use this. One note of caution is that using powder is extremely messy. If you use this indoors, it can cause damage to machinery and objects. It can obscure vision as well. So, use this with caution.
- Carbon dioxide extinguishers are appropriate for fires on electrical equipment (class E). They are also good for flammable liquids. However, it cannot control a fire from re-igniting.
- Wet chemical fire extinguishers are a special type that is appropriate for oil fires (class F).
- A special type of fire extinguisher is also needed for metal fires (class D). Sometimes a special powder can be used.
Fire extinguishers are intended to put out or control small fires. However, if a small fire is not checked right away, it can quickly spread and get out of control. Therefore, it is vital that you equip your work environment with the right type of fire extinguisher. Knowing what fire extinguisher does what will help you choose the right type of install.
Do not risk the safety of yourself, your employees, or your clients. The right fire extinguishers is a small investment for the protection of your business and human lives. Fire & Electrical Safety Ltd can perform a risk assessment of your premises which will suggest the most appropriate fire extinguisher for each area. We supply extinguishers and maintain them to ensure they are in good working order and that you meet regulations.
When a fire breaks out, every second counts. The right fire extinguisher in the right place could be used to prevent a fire from spreading or at least secure a safe exit for personnel. This is one of the best things that you can do to protect your people and your business.