PennCoat Industrial Safety Protocols – Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers – Basics You should Know

When considering industrial safety, fire is one of the largest threats that any plant or facility can encounter. Most occurrences of fire and fire-related damages are preventable if proper measures are taken. Every employer must follow regulations related to fire safety and ensure all employees have knowledge about fire prevention and emergency response actions in case of fire.

Industrial premises are vulnerable fire threats due to its nature.  Because of this, there are several elements that can influence and cause fire, including oxygen, fuel, and chemicals. Hence, industrial safety regulations have made it obligatory for industrial premises to install fire extinguishers and other fire safety related equipment.

Not everyone is aware that there are different kinds of fire and different kinds of fire extinguishers to deal with them. Basically, fires can be classified into these separate categories:

  • Class A – These include fire caused due to ordinary combustibles like cloth, paper, wood, plastic, and others.
  • Class B – These fires involve combustible or flammable liquids like oil, kerosene, grease and oil.
  • Class C – These fires include wiring, circuit breakers, appliances, outlets and other electrical equipment.
  • Class D – These fires involve combustible chemicals or metals like potassium, titanium, sodium and others.
  • Class K – These include fire resulting from equipment found in cafeteria and restaurant kitchens.

Fire extinguishers can be distinguished on basis of their extinguishing agents. Most common type of fire extinguishers used in industries include –

  • Water extinguisher – It is useful for fires involving organic materials like plastic, paper, wood and other materials that come under Class A fires. It cannot be used on electrical appliances, grease or oil fires. These extinguishers are filled with water and pressurized with air, and hence may result in increasing fire if used in wrong situations.
  • CO2 extinguishers – These extinguishers are well suited for fire resulting from electrical devices like computer or television. They consist of CO2 filled in at very high pressure and do not leave harmful residue on the surface.
  • Dry chemical extinguisher – There are different type of dry chemical extinguishers containing powder or foam filled with pressurized Nitrogen. BC dry extinguishers contain potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate while ABS dry extinguishers contain monoammonium phosphate. One of the benefits of dry chemical extinguishers is that it can be used for a combination of class A, class B and Class C fires.

Fire extinguishers displace fire causing element to put off the fire, hence it is very important to have the right type of fire extinguisher installed. Before adding a fire extinguisher to your industrial premises, check their label carefully for approval, compliance and type.