What are the different types of fire classification in the UK?
Fires are categorised according to the type of fuel that is burning. Not all types of fire can be extinguished by the same method; therefore, fires need to be categorised to make them easier to tackle. There are five categories of fire in the UK, according to the European Standard Classification of Fires.
Class A: ordinary combustible fires
Class A fires involve materials such as paper, wood or rubber that have heated to their ignition point. These are the most common type of fire and are the easiest to extinguish. A water or foam fire extinguisher will put out this type of fire.
Class B: flammable liquids
Liquids with an ignition temperature lower than 100°C are known as flammable liquids and include petrol, alcohol and solvents. Flammable liquids also have a low flashpoint. According to the Health and Safety Executive the flashpoint is the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off sufficient flammable vapour to ignite. Class B fires spread quickly and emit black smoke. A foam fire extinguisher is needed to put out the flames.
Class C: flammable gases
As one of the most dangerous types of fire, flammable gases, which include butane, petroleum and propane, have the potential to cause an explosion. For this reason, it is essential that gases are stored in sealed containers. A dry powder extinguisher is used to tackle class C fires.
Class D: metal fires
Metals need high temperatures to ignite; however, once a fire gets going, it can be particularly hazardous if water or foam is used to try to extinguish the flames. Class D fires are therefore put out using a type D powder fire extinguisher.
Some fires are started by faulty electrics, damaged wiring or overloaded switchboards. Although these do not have their own classification, they can be particularly hazardous. Only carbon dioxide and dry powder fire extinguishers are suitable for this type of fire. It is a good idea to get your electrics periodically checked by fire risk assessors in Gloucester or elsewhere, such as http://keloscape.co.uk/ risk assessors, to prevent electrical fires occurring.
Class F: cooking oil fires
Cooking oils and fats can cause fires when heated to high temperatures. Contrary to popular opinion, water does not help to extinguish class F fires; instead, a special wet chemical extinguisher is required.