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Useful Information

Types of Extinguishers

Identify the type of materials in the area

Class A:  Solids; such as paper, wood, cloth etc
Class B:  Flamable liquids; such as paraffin, petrol, oil etc
Class C:   Flamable gases; such as propane, butane, methane etc
Class D: Metals; such as aluminium, magnesium, titanium etc
Class E: Fires involving electrical equipment
Class F: Cooking oil & fats etc


Types of fire extinguisher

Water Fire Extinguishers :
Still probably the most widely used fire extinguisher, but limited to use on class A solids such as paper, wood, cloth etc. When these units reach the end of their servicable life, they are often replaced with foam spray.

Foam Fire Extinguishers :
Similar in some ways to water, but much more versatile. Used for class A solids such as paper, wood, cloth & class B flammable liquids such as paraffin, petrol, oil etc.
Foam spray extinguishers are not recommended for fires involving electricity, but are safer than water if inadvertently sprayed onto live electrical equipment.

Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers :
Often termed the 'multi-purpose' extinguisher, as it can be used on classes A, B & C fires. Best for running liquid fires (Class B). Will efficiently extinguish Class C gas fires, BUT BEWARE, IT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO EXTINGUISH A GAS FIRE WITHOUT FIRST ISOLATING THE GAS SUPPLY.  Special powders are available for class D metal fires.

Warning: when used indoors, powder can obscure vision or damage goods & machinery. It is also very messy.

CO2 Fire Extinguishers :
Carbon Dioxide is ideal for fires involving electrical equipment as the gas can easily penetrate small arpatures & does not leave any residue. They also have a limited capability against flammable liquid fires (class B).

Wet chemical
This is a specialist extinguisher for cooking oil fires (class F), & also has a capability against solid fires (class A)..

For Metal Fires: A specialist fire extinguisher for use on Class D fires - metal fires such as sodium, lithium, manganese & aluminium when in the form of swarf or turnings.

Colour Coding

Prior to 1st Jan 1997, the code of practice for fire extinguishers in the UK was BS 5423, which advised the colour coding of extinguishers as follows:











New fire extinguishers should conform to BS EN 3, which requires that the entire body of the extinguisher be coloured red. A zone of colour of up to 5% of the external area can be used to identify the contents using the old colour coding shown above.

Water-Red Foam-Cream Powder-Blue CO2-Black

Halon  - Green

Halon extinguishers will become 'illegal' after December 2003, & should be removed & disposed of in an environmentally friendly way by a responsible company.


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