Extinguisher 101

Not all fires or fire extinguishers are created equal! At Alpha Fire we feel that apart of our purpose is to educate those we come into contact with about basic fire protection. With so many options in extinguishers to choose from, it is vital that you know what you are looking for so you can make the right selection to effectively protect your home or business. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher in case of emergency, but many fire protection experts recommend one for the kitchen, the garage and another if you have a workshop.

There are five classifications for fires and the classification for extinguishers mirror them:

Class A – Fires involving ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cardboard, and most plastics. Extinguishers used for these fires are identified by a Green Triangle with an “A” inside or a picture of a trash can on the label.

Class B – Fires involving flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, and alcohol. Extinguishers used for these fires are identified by a Red Square with a “B” inside or a picture of a gasoline can on the label.

Class C – Fires involving ENERGIZED electrical equipment. Extinguishers capable of extinguishing these fires are identified by a Blue Circle with a “C” inside or a picture of an electrical cord and outlet on the label.

Class D – Fires involving combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, and potassium. Extinguishers capable of extinguishing these fires are identified by a Yellow Star with a “D” inside on the label.

Class K – Fires involving cooking oils, grease or animal fat and can be extinguished using Purple K, the typical agent found in kitchen or galley extinguishers.

Many Fire Extinguishers will be rated for multiple types of fires. The most common is ABC. For your home, garage, and/or workshop you would want an ABC rated extinguisher and class K rated extinguisher for the kitchen. As shown above extinguishers also come in different sizes/weights – (from left to right) 20 lbs., 10 lbs, 5 lbs, and 2.5 lbs. The most common size used for homes and small businesses is the 5 lb version.

Extinguishers also come in a wide variety of extinguishing agents including (but not limited to): water, wet-chemical, dry-chemical, and foam type. It is important to ensure that you’re using an extinguisher rated to put out the type of fire you are fighting. For instance, you would NEVER USE A WATER TYPE EXTINGUISHER TO PUT OUT A GREASE FIRE, ELECTRICAL FIRE, OR CLASS D FIRE. You would simply spread the fire and make matters worse.

It is vital that this knowledge be held not only by you, but by anyone in your home or business. As a part of our services we offer on-site training for businesses who want to better educate their employees on the importance of fire safety and on how and when to use a fire extinguisher.

If you have any further questions about fire extinguishers or are interested in purchasing extinguishers for your home or business simply click on the “contact us” link above and we will be more than happy to assist you moving forward.