The Difference Classes of Fire
When most people see fires, their first instinct is to grab the nearest fire extinguisher or use nearby water. But what most people don’t know is that not all fires are the same. In fact, adding water to some fires can actually make them worse! There are actually different classes of fire (determined by its fuel), and each one has to be extinguished in its own way.
Class A fires. Class A fires are what you might consider to your “typical” fire. This fire is fueled by ordinary combustibles, such as wood, trash, cloth, and more! These can be extinguished by Class A extinguishers and water.
Class B fires. A Class B fire is fueled by flammable gasses or liquids such as oil, gasoline, and propane. (Note: Grease and cooking oils belong in a different class and should be treated as such.) Unlike a Class A fire, this kind of fire should be extinguished with a dry chemical or carbon dioxide extinguisher.
Class C fires. This class of fire is fueled by active, electronic equipment, such as computers, appliances, motors, and more. If the power source is shut off, the fire changes class and it can be treated differently. But as long as the equipment is energized, it needs to be extinguished with a Class C fire extinguisher.
Class D fires. Class D is rare for home fires, but they are more likely in factories and similar settings. These fires are fueled by combustible metals such as potassium, titanium, sodium, and more (generally metals that end in “-ium”). To extinguish this class, you’ll need a dry powder (class D) fire extinguisher.
Class K fires. One of the more common classes, Class K fires are what you might refer to as “kitchen fires,” though that doesn’t mean they’re exclusive to the kitchen. These fires are fueled by grease and cooking oils, and they should not be treated as any other class. Your best bet here is to use a Class K extinguisher. Do NOT attempt to put this type of fire out with water, as it can make things much worse.
Even though your instinct might be to use water, you see that each class of fire needs to be extinguished in its own way. If you don’t have the proper extinguisher to put out the fire, don’t attempt to use another extinguisher class or use any other method. Instead, call your local fire department. And if you have fire and smoke damage in the Hickory, NC area, call SERVPRO of Catawba County West to have it cleaned up at 828-322-4400!