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Types of Fires and How Firefighters Can Extinguish Them

Types of Fires and How Firefighters Can Extinguish Them

Several varying factors influence a fire’s severity. Firefighters treat each one as a unique experience, gauging the best extinguishing approach based on cause and environmental factors. Departments have an expansive repertoire of fire extinguishing tools to help cease blazes. Proper evaluation of fires, their categories, and how to put them out is something that you learn thoroughly during fire science training. You may be called to combat a fire as the result of cooking, electronics, household chemicals, and other common elements that pose fire hazards. Reviewing the types of fires and how firefighters can extinguish them is a beneficial refresher for anyone serving in the courageous role—whether an amateur or long-time fire expert.

Class A Fires: Douse With Water

Class A fires occur due to solid, flammable materials. Products susceptible to catching this type of fire are common fuel sources such as wood, flammable fabric, paper, and trash. These products often catch fire due to dryness or exposure to heat or flame.

A common approach to combatting Class A fires is dousing the item with water. A monoammonium phosphate also suffices to cut the flame if its stream is continuous. A constant supply of H2O or phosphate decreases the fire’s oxygen levels while cooling the engulfed materials.

Class B Fires: Deplete the Oxygen

The oxygen supply is incredibly influential to a fire’s expansion. Cutting off the air of a Class B fire is imperative to adequate extinction. These fires are the result of a flammable liquid or gas catching fire. These take shape commonly as:

  • Petroleum-based paint or oil
  • Tars
  • Alcohol
  • Gasoline and Kerosene
  • Butane
  • Propane

You’re likely to get called to homes or offices experiencing an unexpected fire from these items. Fire will die out from a lack of oxygen. Oppress the fire with dry chemicals, such as ammonium phosphate or pressurized carbon dioxide.

Many fire departments offer fire safety programs, so you can inform homeowners and facility staff of how to suppress a fire should their place catch aflame. You must relay to never splash water on a Class B fire, as water will disperse the flammable liquid and give the fire a greater distance, making it harder to manage.

Class C Fires: Cut the Power

Electrical fires, or Class C fires, are common because they can erupt from a series of faulty devices. When arriving on the scene of an electrical fire, shut off the electrical power that’s contributing to the damage. You’ll then use carbon dioxide or another non-conductive chemical to diminish the flames.

Class K: Get the Fire Extinguisher

One of the types of fires that are also common for homes is Class K. These types of fires are likely to occur in people’s kitchens—how quickly firefighters can extinguish them can save folks valuables from perishing.

Grease, animal and vegetable fat, olive oil, and other cooking elements are responsible for sparking Class K fires. You should use extinguishers against these fires, as their chemical agents absorb heat and cut oxygen.

Emily Joswiak
Author: Emily Joswiak

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