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What different types of fire are there?


Health and Safety Executive information states that according to British Standard BS EN:2 1992, different types of fire are classified into four categories, namely:

  • Class A: Ordinary combustibles including, for instance, wood, textiles and paper; some plastics, rubber and other carbon based organic compounds
  • Class B: Flammable liquids and liquefiable solids including, for example, petrol, alcohol and kerosene, paints, solvents and petroleum oil
  • Class C: Flammable gases like propane, butane and petroleum gases, for instance
  • Class D: Combustible metals, such as, for example, aluminium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium

The ‘Fire Safety Technical Guide’ released by the UCL lists an additional two different types of fire. The new Class F, which is listed by some fire extinguisher manufacturers as Class K, contains fires involving cooking oils, greases and electrical fires.

Although electrical fires are not officially assigned a class of their own, they are listed by some extinguisher manufacturers as Class E.


Extinguishing different types of fire

Each different type of fire requires a different type of extinguisher in order to tackle a fire safely. Suitable extinguishers for different types of fire include:

  • Class A: Can be extinguished using water or foam or water based extinguishers.
  • Class B: Should be extinguished using foam based extinguishers.
  • Class C: Can only be extinguished using dry powder extinguishers.
  • Class D: Best left to burn out on their own, but may be extinguished with specialist Type D dry powder extinguishers.
  • Electrical fires/Class E: Must be extinguished using dry powder or carbon dioxide extinguishers. Power supply must be cut off before attempting to tackle electrical fires.
  • Class F/K: Can only be safely extinguished using specifically developed wet chemical extinguishers.

Fires at work

Employers’ main priority is to prevent accidents at work, which obviously includes the prevention of fires. In case a work accident does cause a fire, they must, however, also ensure that fires can be tackled quickly and without risk of injuries at work by providing:

  • Suitable extinguishers for different types of fire.
  • Adequate training and information on which extinguisher to use and when.

Your right as an employee

Should you be injured at work because a fire could not be dealt with in a safe manner, you could eligible to make an industrial injury claim.

Accident Advice Helpline advisors have the know-how and experience to assist you in establishing your claim eligibility quickly, answer any questions you may have, and get an in-house lawyer assigned to your case on a no win no fee basis.

Call us on 0800 689 5659.