Depending upon the class or type of fire, the extinguishing material also varies. Therefore, the knowledge of fire types and their respective combatants is important in the event of any emergency situation.
- Class A Fire is the most common of all fires, and occurs when combustible material such as paper, wood, fabric refuse etc catch fire. Please note that almost all categories of fire extinguishers include sand buckets as well as water, or cutting off oxygen supply by means of a blanket, can be work equally well in extinguishing this category of fire.
- Class B Fire occurs when inflammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene etc catch fire. This is a very fast-spreading category of fire, and it is important to know the various ways to suppress the same. There are special fire extinguishers that have been designed for flammable liquid fire, which work by inhibiting the chemical chain reaction or via the use of alternate extinguishing techniques such as water mist or in several cases, even Halon Gas.
- Class C Fire happens when any combustible gas is sparked beyond ignition point. While this category is often more rapidly-spreading and deadly as compared to Class B Fire, both of the categories share certain similarities. And when it comes to extinguishing this category of fire, what primarily works is the use of water mist spray, Halon or designated Type-C Fire Extinguishers.
- Class D Fire has been designated to the inflammation of a combustible metal. While this 4th category of fire might not be very common in residential or commercial spaces, the occurrence of the same in specific factories, industrial spaces and research labs is comparatively high. This is exactly why one should be very cautious about Class D Fire in the said spaces, and maintain adequate precautions for curtailing the same at all costs.
- Class E Fire all types of fire that occurs because of electrical reasons. Please note that when an electrical malfunctioning causes fire initially, the same might trigger any of the above category of fires by flaming up combustible solids, liquids, gases or metals. But the important point to note here is that this fire category should never, ever end up being exhausted by using water. The reason is simple of course- that water is a good conductor of electricity, and any attempts to use water for dousing electrical fire, will only end up aggravating it further.
Reference: Health & Safety Manual – Fire Safety