Choosing the right fire extinguisher for your business premises can be a little confusing. A lot will depend on what kinds of combustible materials you have on site and the purpose of your operation. A warehouse that handles flammable substances, for example, will have vastly different requirements to an office environment. The truth is that fire is not one standard thing but comes in different classes:
- Class A: This applies to fire involving general combustible materials such as wood and paper and which can be extinguished using water.
- Class B: There are plenty of combustible liquids including oil, petrol and diesel. To combat these, you need to remove the source of oxygen so an extinguisher that smothers the fire is required.
- Class C: These are fires that involve gasses which can include natural gas, butane and propane as well as hydrogen. The most appropriate extinguishers are those that use dry powder.
- Class D: Metals can also be flammable or ignited. The most common are magnesium, aluminium and titanium. Again, specialist powder extinguishers are the best for dealing with these kinds of fires.
- Class E: Fires can also be caused by any electrical appliances. It’s not the appliance itself that is the problem here – once it is switched off then the source of the fire is removed. The problem will be what material has combusted and will dictate what extinguisher needs to be used.
- Class F: Cooking oil fat that has been overheated can also combust. This often occurs in the kitchen environment and a wet chemical extinguisher is the most suitable appliance to use.