Did you know fire is classified into four different types based on what causes the fire and what it uses as fuel? Learn about the four types of fires (and one bonus class) in our essential guide!
Class A Fires
The first and most common category of fire is Class A fire. Often a Class A fire is referred to as ordinary because they come from common flammable materials we’re all familiar with, such as the following:
- Light plastics
While it may be considered an ordinary fire, Class A fires are just as destructive as any fire, and they’re the most common to damage buildings. But Class A fires are also the simplest to put out—either remove flammable material or douse it with water or a standard fire extinguisher.
Class B Fires
The second in our essential guide to the four types of fires are Class B fires, otherwise known as liquid and gas fires. As one could guess from its name, these fires combust from flammable liquids and gases, most commonly gasoline, kerosene, propane, and butane.
Class B fires are dangerous because their fuel is gas and liquid, so they can spread rapidly and cause significant harm and damage in a short period. The best way to quench a Class B fire is by removing oxygen by smothering it with foam or other suppression equipment.
Class C Fires
Also known as electrical fires, Class C fires are quite dangerous because they have the added risk of electrical shock and burns. Naturally, they’re most common in buildings with a lot of electrical equipment, like data centers, but they can happen in any residential home with faulty wiring.
Water alone will not put out a Class C fire and will only add more danger to the situation by introducing a conductive material. A powder fire extinguisher or a clean agent suppression system are the best methods for quenching an electrical fire.
Class D Fires
The last of the four major fire classes is also the rarest, Class D, known as metallic fires. What makes Class D fires unique is that the combustible fuel comes from flammable metallic materials like the following:
Obviously, these materials aren’t exactly lying around, so this Class of fire is most commonly found in laboratories or mining areas. Typically, the best solution for a Class D fire is a dry powder agent to smother the flames without damaging the materials.
Bonus: Class K Fires
While there were just four types of fires for many years, recently, a fifth has been added to the equation: Class K. While Class K fires are basically the same as Class B fires—emanating from flammable liquids and gases—they’re distinct because they only occur in kitchens.
As anyone knows, a kitchen—at home or in a restaurant—has many ignition sources and flammable materials like grease and fats. Due to their frequency and danger, kitchen fires have earned their own classification.
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