There are different types of fire extinguishers and their uses for fighting different classes of fire.
The fire comes in many ways, so you need to prepare yourself to know about different types of fire extinguishers and their uses to extinguish different types of fire.
What are the different classes of fires?
- Class A – Fires of solid or organic materials, such as wood, plastics, paper, textiles, or coal.
- Class B – Fires of flammable liquids, such as gasoline, petroleum oil, paint, or diesel.
- Class C – Fires of flammable gases, such as propane, butane, or methane.
- Class D – Fires of combustible metals, such as magnesium, lithium, sodium, potassium, titanium, or aluminium.
- Class F/ Class K – Fires of cooking oils and fats, such as vegetable oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, maize oil, lard, or butter.
- Class E – Electrical fires of live equipment and electrical sources.
Each type of fire extinguisher is specifically designed for the unharmed and effective discharge of its contents. Each type of fire extinguisher contains a different substance that makes the fire extinguishers suitable for fighting different types of fires. The right types of fire extinguishers and their uses must be used for the right class of fire, or else the fire extinguisher may show an ineffective reaction or worsen the fire.
What are the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses that are available in Malaysia?
There are five main types of fire extinguishers :
- Wet chemical
Each type of fire extinguisher and its uses are easily recognized by its names, colours, and sometimes its hoses.
Types of fire extinguishers and their uses in Malaysia
1. Water extinguisher
Water types of fire extinguishers are in solid red and have the word ‘water’ in white text on them. Water types of fire extinguishers are the classic model, they discharge water at high pressure to extinguish flames. Water types of fire extinguishers are only suitable for class A, which means they can fight fires that involve wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal, and other similar materials.
Foam types of extinguishers are recognized by the word ‘foam’ on it with a cream rectangle around the text. Foam types of extinguishers are first and foremost water-based and consist of a foaming agent, which has quick flame knock-down and a blanketing effect, it smothers the flames and seals vapours so re-ignition cannot occur. Foam types of extinguishers are suitable for fighting class A and B fires.
When foam types of extinguishers are used against class A fires, we can simply point and spray. However, when foam types of extinguishers are used against class B fires on flammable liquids they should not be sprayed directly into the substance. This could cause the fire to be pushed and spread to the surrounding areas. The best method of application is to spray the foam nearby so that it can build up and flow across it.
Foam types of fire extinguishers are less hazardous than water types of fire extinguisher if it is accidentally used on live electrical equipment. But they should still not be used against electrical fires.
ABC dry powder types of extinguishers will show ‘powder’ in white text over a blue rectangle. ABC dry powder types of extinguishers are designed to combat class A, B, and C fires such as solids, liquids, and gases. ABC dry powder types of extinguishers are also suitable for fighting electrical fires. However, they do not effectively spread through the spaces easily, so the fire could still ignite again. ABC dry powder types of extinguishers leave a residue that is not easy to clean up and causes damage to soft furnishings.
4. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
CO2 types of fire extinguishers can be identified by the text ‘CO2’ printed in white on a black rectangle. CO2 types of fire extinguishers also have a different type of hose, unlike other fire extinguishers.
CO2 types of fire extinguishers are used for combating class B and electrical fires. CO2 types of fire extinguishers smother the fire by displacing oxygen in the air. CO2 types of fire extinguishers do not leave any substances unlike the other fire extinguishers, CO2 types of fire extinguishers are particularly useful for offices and workshops where electrical fires may likely occur. CO2 types of fire extinguishers are effective at smothering fires, once the gas was gone away, the fire may ignite back if the source is not removed.
5. Wet Chemical
Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers can be identified as ‘wet chemical’ printed on a yellow rectangle and an extended applicator.
Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers are used to extinguish fires that involve class F fires. Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers are effective because they are capable of extinguishing fires that are the extremely high temperature.
Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers cool the burning oil and produce a soap-like solution that seals the surface and prevents the ignition back of the fire. Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers are discharged in a soft yet highly effective preventing the hot oils and fats from splashing onto the user or spreading to the surrounding areas. The best method of application is to spray in slow circular motions. The entire contents of the oil should be emptied. Otherwise, the fire may ignite back. Wet chemicals types of fire extinguishers are usually not recommended for class B fires, liquids.
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