Fire safety products are heavily regulated and anyone who has to choose extinguishers must have a good understanding of how they are classified. In the United Kingdom there are five separate fire risk classifications each of which describe a different type of fire.
class A – burning paper, wood or other solids
Class B – burning liquid such as petrol (not fat)
Class C – burning gas (eg LPG or natural gas)
Class D – burning metal particles such as magnesium swarf
Class E – electrical (not used any longer to describe risk)
Class F – burning cooking fat
The extinguishers are rated to show for which type of fire they can be used. For example a A rated extinguisher can be used on burning wood. The number next to each letter on the extinguisher shows the strength of the extinguisher. The higher the number the more powerful the extinguisher.
Water fire extinguishers are used onr Class A fires which means that using them in other circumstances could be dangerous (exception dry water mist). A foam extinguisher is good for combustible liquids like petrol and oil, as well as Class A fires with wood or card as a source. A broad use extinguisher is the Dry Powder extinguisher, since it can deal with Classes A, B, C fires. This means that Dry Powder is good for chemicals, flammable gases and liquids as well as electrical fires. Carbon Dioxide agent is good only for Class B and E making it good for electrical and chemical fires.
If you are working in an establishment that cooks and serves food, the best fire safety products will be Class F rated. Wet Chemical extinguishers are the best option for tackling this type of blaze which can prove dangerous if the incorrect type of extinguishing agent is used. All of this highlights the need for a clear understanding of your requirements as well as the classes of extinguishers.
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