When considering if there is only one type of fire extinguisher, it is necessary to look at the types of fires.
Types of fires
According to Health and Safety Executive and University College London information, as well as information provided by a wide range of fire extinguisher manufacturers, there are six major types, or classes of fire:
- Class A: Ordinary combustibles – which include fires involving burning wood, paper or textiles, rubber, certain plastics and varying other organic carbon-based compounds.
- Class B: Flammable liquids and liquefiable solids – which include burning petrol, kerosene or alcohol, petroleum oil, paints or solvents
- Class C: Flammable gases – such as butane, propane or petroleum gases
- Class D: Combustible metals – which may involve potassium, aluminium, sodium, or magnesium
- Class E: Electrical fires, often described as Class E, although this is not an official classification as such
- Class F/K: Cooking oils and greases
As each of these fire classes burns differently, and requires different methods or substances to be extinguished, having just a one type of fire extinguisher simply would not be enough.
More than one type of fire extinguisher
It is not true that there is only one type of fire extinguisher. There are, as a matter of fact, at least six different types of extinguishers, including:
- Water-based extinguishers, for Class A fires
- Foam-based extinguishers, for Class A and B fires
- Dry powder extinguishers, for Class C fires
- Dry powder Type D extinguishers, for Class D fires
- Carbon dioxide extinguishers, for electrical, or Class E, fires
- Wet chemical extinguishers, for Class F/K, fires
Depending on industry and substances or materials involved, a working environment may need to have several, if not all, types of extinguisher on the premises in order to effectively deal with fires at work.
Employers are by law bound to do everything within their power to minimise the risk of their employees being injured by accidents at work. This also entails providing the necessary means to prevent work injuries by fire and includes having:
- An evacuation plan
- Clearly marked, continually kept clear escape routes
- Fire doors and exits
- All necessary firefighting equipment
They must also ensure workers know:
- What to do and where to go in case of fire by having regular fire drills
- What extinguisher to use when and how by providing relevant training
If you suffered an injury at work because your employer had just one type of fire extinguisher on the premises when multiple types were needed, you could be eligible to file a work injury claim against them.
Discuss your options with Accident Advice Helpline staff now by calling 0800 689 0500, or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile.
Date Published: August 1, 2016
Author: Accident Advice