Fire extinguishers save lives. Countless times these devices have been used to quickly eliminate the threat of a fire. They minimise property damage, reduce injuries and prevent death. Schools are large and busy places where fire protection plays an important part to keep students, teachers, and other staff safe.
Fire extinguishers are an essential part of the fire safety plan for any school. It is very important to understand how fire extinguishers work in the event of a school fire so that students, teachers or any other staff will be able to use a fire extinguisher to bring the fire under control or to clear a path to safety.
The design and manufacturing of fire extinguishers are strictly regulated. All fire extinguishers in Australian workplaces and homes must meet safety standards for effectiveness and reliability. Portable fire extinguishers are labeled so users can quickly identify the types of fire on which the extinguisher will be effective. However, there are different types of fire extinguisher that are designed to deal with different types of fires.
Class A fire extinguishers are used for ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, some plastics, and textiles. This fire class requires the heat-absorbing effects of water or the coating effects of certain dry chemicals. Extinguishers suitable for Class A fires should be identified by a triangle containing the letter “A.” If in color, the triangle should be green.
Class B fire extinguishers are used for flammable liquid and gas fires such as oil, gasoline, etc. These fire extinguishers deprive the fire of oxygen and interrupt the fire chain by inhibiting the release of combustible vapors. Extinguishers suitable for Class B fires should be identified by a square containing the letter “B.” If in color, the square should be red.
Class C fire extinguishers are used on fires that involve live electrical equipment that requires the use of electrically nonconductive extinguishing agents. Once the electrical equipment is de-energized, extinguishers for Class A or B fires may be used. Extinguishers suitable for Class C fires should be identified by a circle containing the letter “C.” If in color, the circle should be blue.
Class D D-type fire extinguishers are used on combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, sodium, etc., that require an extinguishing medium that does not react with the burning metal. Extinguishers suitable for Class D fires should be identified by a five-point painted star containing the letter “D.” If in color, the star should be yellow.
Class K fire extinguishers are used in fires involving cooking media (fats, grease, and oils) in school kitchens. These fire extinguishers work on the principle of saponification, which takes place when alkaline mixtures such as potassium acetate, potassium citrate or potassium carbonate are applied to burning cooking oil or fat. The alkaline mixture combined with the fatty acid creates a soapy foam on the surface that holds in the vapors and steam and extinguishes the fire. These extinguishers are identified by the letter K.
There are different types of fire extinguisher suitable for the various classes of fire and certain considerations to bear in mind, such as the amount of ‘A’ class cover required for the building. When considering these factors, it is advisable to use a reputable and third-party accredited fire safety company who will come out and survey your premises to ensure correct extinguisher siting and coverage.
Don’t allow your school to get caught out in the event of an emergency fire situation. Using a fire extinguisher in a small fire will prevent the fire from growing and having a devastating effect on the school and putting life and property at risk.