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Firefighter Classification of Fires and Extinguishers

Fire and extinguishers are defined into four different classifications and is important to a firefighter and fire crew when confronted with extinguishing the different types of fire.

Fire is a destructive force that burns up and destroys everything that it touches. Fire can destroy lives, homes, businesses, schools, property, and dreams or hopes of a family, community or individual. Fire is defined into four different classifications and is important to a firefighter and fire crew when confronted with extinguishing the different types of fire.

Fire classification is broken down into easy to learn letters so even an elementary student can learn them. The classification of a fire will determine the way a firefighter approaches and extinguishes that particular type of fire.

Class A fires

The first classification of fire is called a class A fire. Class A fires consist of combustible materials such as wood, sawdust, rubber, paper, plastics, hay, and cloth. Water is normally used to extinguish class A fires.

Class B fires

Class B fires are very flammable and combustible type fires that are made up of liquids and gases that involve paint, oil, gasoline, mineral spirits, alcohol, and lacquer. Foam or purple K dry chemical extinguishers are two methods in extinguishing a class B fire.

Class C fires

A class C fire is an energized fire where electrical equipment is involved such as overhead power lines, computers, household appliances, transformers, electrical breaker boxes or electrical wiring in your walls and attic. In other words a class C fire is anything that catches on fire that has electricity running it or running to it. This type fire is usually extinguished by dry chemical, carbon dioxide, and halon type extinguishing agents.

Class D fires

The last type fire is a class D fire that affects combustible metals like zinc, sodium, aluminum, titanium, potassium, lithium, zirconium, calcium and magnesium. These type metals can be very hazardous and explosive in a powdered form when they are ignited. These types of metals can burn at extremely high temperatures and water. Class D fires vary depending on the type of combustible metal that is burning. Class D fires are usually extinguished by a dry powder extinguishing agent that is safe and effective for the type combustible metal burning. The U.S. Department of Transportation MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet should be looked at to see the recommended way to extinguish a class C combustible metal fire.

Fire extinguishers are also classified into a rating system according to the type of fire it is designed to extinguish.

Class A Fire Extinguisher

Class A extinguishers will be effective on materials on fire involving wood, sawdust, rubber, paper, plastics, hay, and cloth. Water is normally used to extinguish class A fires.

Class B Fire Extinguisher

Class B extinguishers will be effective on materials on fire involving paint, oil, gasoline, mineral spirits, alcohol, and lacquer.

Class C Fire Extinguisher

Class C extinguishers will be effective on materials on fire involving overhead power lines, computers, household appliances, transformers, electrical breaker boxes or electrical wiring in your walls and attic.

Class D Fire Extinguisher

Class D extinguisher will be effective on materials on fires involving combustible metals like zinc, sodium, aluminum, titanium, potassium, lithium, zirconium, calcium and magnesium.

The classification of fires and fire extinguishers are for firefighters to help them remember what type fire they are fighting and what to use to extinguish the fire and the potential dangers while extinguishing that type of fire.

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Comments (3)

good article, I have one at home.

Very useful information. Well written Darrell! :-)

Congrats on making it into the article spotlight!

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