What type of fire extinguishers should I select for my business?

What type of fire extinguishers should I select for my business is a question we get asked all the time.  When you are choosing fire extinguishers for your business, you have to look at what type of fire you are likely to have. While powder fire extinguishers might seem an obvious answer, they have their own dangers as they obscure visibility and can affect the breeding due to their very small particles and content. Some fire extinguishers can make a fire worse, and in fact, be very dangerous. For example, using a water extinguisher on a fat fire.

Types of Fire

Fires are classified into different groups depending on the type of fuel involved. Each fire class is represented by its own letter for example A, B, C, D & F, with the exception of electrical fires. They also have an easy to identify icon representing the fuel type, both the class and icon will be Present on your fire extinguisher.

Adam to insert table (icon images are located in eezylearn training folder/fire courses/images

Classification                     Icon             F ule type

Class A                         Insert icon         Solids such as wood, paper, plastic and soft furnishings

Class B                        Insert icon         Flammable liquids such as cattle, oil and paraffin.

Class C                        insert icon         Flammable gases such as propane, methane and butane

Class D                        insert icon         Metal such as aluminium, magnesium, potassium and titanium

Class F                         insert icon        cooking fats/oils

Electrical                      insert icon       Fires involving electrical appliances. This was originally called class E,                                                                 however this can actually fall into any type of category as it is not the                                                                    electricity that is burning, for example a computer on fire might be                                   specified as a class a fire

Types of Fire Extinguishers

There are many different types of fire extinguishers, with each extinguisher having its own specification based on the class of fire it is to be used upon. Fire extinguishers to be used in Ireland should meet the EN3 standard and should have a red body with a colour identifying the extinguishing agent type which covers between 5-10% of the surface of the fire extinguisher.

Water  Red/White  Class A

To be used on class A fires involving solid materials. Not suitable for fires involving flammable liquids or electricity.

Foam Cream Class A & B

To be used on class A & B. The former agent can help prevent really nation and vapours being released from flammable liquids. Not to be used on fires involving electricity. May not be suitable for certain chemicals. Refer to the MSDS.

CO2 Black Class B & Electrical

Suitable for fires involving electrical appliances. CO2 is a non-conductor and leaves no residual mess. Not to be used on gas fires.

ABC Dry powder  blue   Class A, B & C

to be used on Class A, B & C and fires involving electricity. Should not be used indoors unless specifically identified in a risk assessment, due to the risk of inhalation of its fine particles and as it can obscure vision. Also, results in collateral damage as it can damage goods and machinery.

Specialist powder blue  Class D

To be used on metal fires. Not suitable for other fire types. This is a specialist fire extinguisher.

Wet Chemical Yellow Class F

to be used on fires involving cooking fats and oils. Ideally located in restaurants/kitchens. Can also be used as a class A fire extinguisher, therefore along with CO2 should be the only extinguishers in your kitchen

Risk Assessment

You will need to carry out a risk assessment to identify which type of fire extinguisher you require on your premises in addition to the type you will need to establish how many fire extinguishers you require, this is based on the size of your premises with a minimum of two Class A Fire Extinguishers Required Premises up to 400 M². We have published other information on a website about the selection of fire extinguishers. 

It is very rare in the premises not to have a risk from electricity, therefore you will typically see a Class A fire extinguisher situated beside an extinguisher rated for electrical fires.

A typical setup would be a 6 L foam extinguisher and 2 KG CO2 extinguisher.