For a small business, a fire in their offices can be catastrophic. In fact, many small companies have unfortunately been put out of business due to fire damage. So the overwhelming majority of small business owners should take a cautious approach to fires breaking out.
Large fires are cause for an evacuation of the building and a call to the fire service, but for small fires – such as a waste bin fire – the employees are expected to deal with them using the correct fire safety equipment, which must be in place by law. Therefore, it is critical that your employees know how to deal with these kinds of fires. This article looks at what type of fire extinguisher should be used for which type of fire.
Before Using The Extinguisher
Putting out a small fire is, in some ways, down to good common sense. For example, if a contained fire has broken out near a supply of paper, then it makes sense to quickly remove the paper before dealing with the fire. Contained fires are fires that have started in a place that will prevent the flames from spreading quickly. However, if left for long enough, it may well spread if surrounding material is close by. Make sure that your staff are trained to quickly assess the situation and clear away any material that may help the fire to spread.
Types Of Extinguishers
There are several types of extinguishers and all are suitable for different types of fire. Here is a list of fire extinguishers and what types of fire they should be used for:
- Class A Fires – this is the most common type of fire in the workplace. They are paper (including trash), cloth and wood based fires and can be quickly put out using a class A extinguisher.
- Class B Fires – the base materials for this type of fire are oil, grease, gasoline and other flammable liquids. Class B extinguishers starve the fire of oxygen and reduce the flames.
- Class C Fires – this is for fires that have started due to an electrical fault, which again, is fairly common in an office workplace. The class C extinguisher is usually filled with a dry chemical, such as carbon dioxide, and will quickly extinguish the flames.
- Class D Fires – used for the more uncommon fires involving materials such as magnesium or aluminium.
Trying to put out an electrical based fire with, for example, a (water based) class A extinguisher is very dangerous; ensure that your employees know which type of extinguisher is suitable for which type of fire.