Everything You Should Know About Fire Extinguisher Ratings

Many of our customers are surprised to find out that not all fire extinguishers are created equal. There are many different kinds of extinguishers, which fall into several distinct categories on the fire extinguisher ratings chart.

It’s vital to have a basic understanding of this chart and to buy the right type of extinguisher for your business. We put together this post to clear up any confusion about fire extinguisher ratings.

What do the ratings on a fire extinguisher mean?

Determining what class of extinguisher you have is easy if you know what the letters on the canister label mean. Here’s a breakdown of the different fire extinguisher classes:

  • Class A: These extinguishers are designed to put out flames caused by combustible organic materials, like wood, paper, cloth and many plastics. The main chemical used in Class A extinguishers is monoammonium phosphate because of its ability to smother fires caused by these materials.
  • Class B: You use a Class B extinguisher to put out a fire caused by flammable liquids like gasoline, kerosine or paint. These extinguishers also contain monoammonium phosphate to smother the fire. They also have sodium bicarbonate that effectively extinguishes the flames.
  • Class C: Electrical fires require an extinguisher with a Class C rating. Like Class B extinguishers, these contain monoammonium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate because they don’t conduct any electricity.
  • Class D: We don’t often think of metal as being flammable, but a combustible metal fire is a very real concern in any factory. When metal ignites, a Class D extinguisher comes to the rescue. These dry powder extinguishers contain powdered graphite or granular sodium chloride to separate the fire from the oxygen.
  • Class K: Commercial kitchens need a Class K fire extinguisher because it’s designed to snuff out fires caused by cooking equipment as well as cooking oils and fats. A Class K extinguisher uses a fine mist made of an alkaline mixture to quench the flames.

What size extinguisher does my company need?

After you’ve checked the fire extinguisher ratings chart and decided which type is right, you’ll need to decide upon a size. Consider these factors while you’re shopping for a new extinguisher:

  • Fire risk: The first thing to consider is the size of fire your facility could experience. For example, an electrical fire that breaks out in an office is likely much smaller than an explosion that could occur in a manufacturing facility.
  • Room size and materials: The bigger the room, the larger your extinguisher needs to be. Consult with a fire extinguisher professional to determine how many square feet your extinguisher can handle.
  • Employee ability: An extinguisher is only as useful as the person operating it. Before you go out and buy the largest available unit, ensure all of your workers are able to wield it in an emergency.

Let us help you decide on an extinguisher

If you’re still a bit confused on what the ratings on a fire extinguisher mean, call our team at AAA Fire Protection Resources, Inc. We can provide a fire protection consultation to ensure your building has the correct type and number of extinguishers.

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