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Classes of Fire Extinguisher

Classification and Ratings

Information Indicated on the Extinguisher

Bago, Al Vincent P.
A. Classes of Fire Extinguisher

Portable Fire Extinguisher

Portable fire extinguishers offer the greatest potential for immediately controlling workplace

Their portability and relatively easy operation often make them ready for use within seconds.
However, training and education is critical to know more on the operations and use of an
extinguisher. Users should know how to identify extinguishers, what types are available,
where they are in the work place, and above all, how to use them.

1. Dry Chemicals
Dry Chemical extinguishers are usually rated for multi-purpose use. It
contains an extinguishing agent and uses a compressed, non-flammable gas as a

a. Regular or ordinary - used only Class B or Class C fires.

b. Multi-purpose dry chemicals - used on Class A, Class B, and Class C.

Dry chemicals inhibit the chain reaction and, to a certain degree, cool and smother the fire.
These agents are chemically treated with a substance to keep them water resistant and free
flowing. These dry chemical extinguishers may be found in sizes which range from 2 ½ to 30

2. Carbon Dioxide

used on Class B and Class C fires. CO2 extinguishes fire by smothering, reducing the
oxygen level, below that which supports combustion. Under certain conditions, the coldness
of the gas also helps put out the fire. It is an inert gas. When CO2 is stored under pressure in
a cylinder or tank such a fire extinguisher, it changes from a vapor to a liquid. When it
passes through the discharge valve of a fire extinguisher, it changes from a liquid to a gas
and the expansion chills it to low temperatures so that approximate 30% of the liquid CO2 is
converted into a solid dioxide “snow” or “dry ice.

3. Foam

used only on Class A and B fires. Foam removes fuel by forming a layer over a
burning liquid and preventing flammable vapors from escaping. Foam will also smother by
keeping oxygen from mixing with the vapors and cool with a constant layer of water bearing
4. Halons

used on Class B and C fires. These liquefied gases are most effective in interrupting
the chain reaction, but they also have slight smothering and cooling effects. These are made
up of carbon and one or more halogen elements like fluorine, chlorine, iodine, and bromine.
These types of extinguishers are often used to protect valuable electrical equipment since
they leave no residue to clean up unlike CO2. Halon extinguishers have a limited range,
usually from 4-6 feet. The initial application should be made at the base of the fire, even after
the fires have been put out.

5. Metal/Sand Extinguishers

these types of extinguishers are primarily used for flammable metals (Class D) and
have the characteristics of a blanketing effect (smothering) on the fire. The most common
extinguishing agent used is sodium chloride.

The following are different types of Metal/Sand Extinguishing Agents:

• Sodium chloride

- used for metal fires involving magnesium, sodium potassium, sodium/potassium alloys,
uranium and powdered aluminum.

• Powdered Copper Metal (Cu metal)

- used for fires involving lithium and lithium alloys. It is the only known lithium fire fighting
agent which will cling to a vertical surface thus making it the preferred agent used on three
dimensional and flowing fires.

• Graphite-based powders

- these are designed for use on lithium fires. It is also effective on fires involving high melting
metals such as zirconium and titanium.

• Specially-designed sodium bicarbonate-based dry agents

- used to suppress fires with most metal alkyls, pyrophoric liquids which ignite on contact,
with air, such as triethylaluminum.

• Sodium-carbonate-based dry powders

- can be used with most Class D fires involving sodium, potassium or sodium/potassium
alloys. This agent is recommended where stress, corrosion of stainless steel must be kept to
an absolute minimum.

6. Halotron I Extinguishers

These extinguishers are intended for use on class B and Class C fires. Halotron I is
an ozone-friendly replacement for Halon 1211 (which was banned by international
agreements starting 1994). This “clean” agent discharges as a liquid, has a high visibility
during discharge, does not cause thermal or static shock, leaves no residue and is non-
conducting. These properties make it ideal for computer rooms, clean rooms,
telecommunications equipment, and electronics, and it is expensive.

7. FE-36 - (Hydrofluorocarbon-236fa or known as HFC-236fa)

it is a DuPont-manufactured Halon 1211 replacement. This agent is less toxic than both
Halon 1211 and Halotron I. It has a zero ozone-depleting effect or potential. FE-36 is not
scheduled for phase-out whereas Halotron I production is slated to cease in 2015.

8. Water Fire Extinguisher

extinguisher filled with water use of fight Class A and Class B fires except class C

9. Water Mist Extinguishers

Ideal used for Class A fire where a potential Class C hazard exists. Unlike an
ordinary water extinguisher, the misting nozzle provides safety from electric shock and
reduces scattering of burning materials.

B. Classification and Ratings

There are four classes of fire extinguishers – A, B, C and D – and each class can put
out a different type of fire.

Class A extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles

such as wood and paper
• Class B extinguishers are for use on flammable liquids like

grease, gasoline and oil

• Class C extinguishers are suitable for use only on

electrically energized fires

Class D extinguishers are designed for use of

D flammable metals

Multipurpose extinguishers can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with
more than one class, like A-B, B-C or A-B-C

C. Information Indicated on the Extinguisher

Under (Rule 37, Sec. 106 of PD 1185), all fire extinguishers manufactured or sold in
the Philippines must be labelled or marked to show at least the following:

1. Date of original filling

2. Chemical Contents

3. Type of extinguisher

4. Operating Instruction and Safe Procedure in usage

5. Name and address of the manufacturer

6. Name and address of the dealer.


Review notes on Fire technology and Arson investigation College of Criminology