Choosing the right fire extinguishers for the job

Having the right fire protection equipment is vital in any working (and home) environment, and fire extinguishers should be a key part of fire safety provision. But, it’s important to remember that different extinguishers will be needed for different types of fire, so having the right tools for the job is essential.

The most common fires in commercial and home settings are caused by general combustible materials including wood, paper, straw, car tyres, coal and textiles. Known as Class A fires, these should be extinguished using water, foam or powder extinguishers for maximum effectiveness and safety. Class B fires, caused by flammable liquids including petrol, diesel, oil, fat, tar, alcohol and paraffin, can be extinguished using foam, powder or CO2, whereas fires caused by combustible gases such as methane, hydrogen, propane and natural gas (Class C) should only ever be extinguished using powder. The same applies to flammable metal fires (Class D), whilst fires involving combustible cooking media (Class F) such as cooking oils, fats and grease should only ever be dealt with using wet chemical extinguishers.

It’s vital that you use the right extinguisher for each type of fire as failing to do so could make matters worse—using water on electrical fires, for example, is incredibly dangerous as water acts as a conductor, and using pressurised extinguishers on cooking media could easily carry the burning oil and cause the fire to spread. That’s why it’s so important to have a variety of different extinguishers readily available and always have the right tools for the job in different areas, thereby ensuring you’re not putting your home or workplace at risk of avoidable damage. With the right fire protection equipment in place you can be confident that your fire safety needs are covered, so make sure to take suitable precautions and you can have the peace of mind you need.

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