Fire extinguishers should be accessible at all times within a commercial business property. However sometimes its difficult to know exactly which fire extinguisher will work best for each area within your property.
To understand the needs of your property you must first look at each different type of fire, as determined by ‘class’ and the extinguisher needed to cover that class.
The material on fire determines which class a fire belongs to:
Class A – Solids (paper, wood, plastic etc)
Class B – Flammable Liquids (paraffin, petrol, oil etc)
Class C – Flammable Gases (propane, butane, methane etc)
Class D – Metals (aluminium, magnesium, titanium etc)
Class E – Electrical apparatus
Class F – Cooking oil and fat etc
Depending on the nature of your business and the work going on in each part of your premises there may be a need for a number of different types of extinguisher.
Water extinguishers are the cheapest fire extinguisher on the market. They are the most frequently used extinguisher and are used for Class A fires. Class B and E fires must not be put out using water extinguishers.
Foam fire extinguishers are more expensive but can be used on more types of fire. These spray extinguishers can be used on Class A and B fires, though are not recommended for Class E fires. Where they are inadvertently sprayed on fires caused by live electrical apparatus they are safer than water extinguishers.
Dry Powder fire extinguishers are the most versatile of extinguisher, allowing a user to extinguish a Class A, B or C fire, special Dry powder extinguishers can also be purchased to cover Class D metal fires. These extinguishers are best for fires involving running liquid, or Class B, but do come with their downsides. The Dry Powder fire extinguisher will effectively terminate any Class C gas fire, however the gas supply must be isolated first. Also these extinguishers often obscure vision, and can damage goods and machinery if you are using them indoors.
For Class E fires involving electrical goods a CO2 fire extinguisher can be used. This type of extinguisher will also stop a Class B fire, but it has no post fire security so fires terminated by a CO2 extinguisher could re-ignite.
Wet chemical extinguishers are used for Class F fires involving oil and fats, so often appear in cafes or kitchens where lard, olive and sunflower oil, and butter are used for cooking.
When you have large premises there are often risks from many different things, especially if machinery or cooking apparatus is used within the building. Our dedicated team of fire safety professionals can assist you in knowing which extinguisher will work best in different parts of your building.