Fire extinguishers are an important and necessary safety tool for many businesses whether large or small. But not all fire extinguishers are the same. Have you ever looked at a fire extinguisher and seen one or more letters on it such as "A," "B," or "C"? These letters designate what kind of fire that particular extinguisher is designed to help you with. The FEMA government website has more information you should check out, but here's what you need to know about the ABCs of fire extinguishers for your business.
When You See "A," Think of Ash
An extinguisher with the letter A is designed to put out a fire that would leave ash in its wake. Think of what happens to wood when it burns, for example. A furniture fire, a fire involving any kind of paper product, and so on should be put out with an "A" fire extinguisher. "A" is the most commonly used extinguisher and is designed to be used on "ordinary" materials, according to FEMA.
B Means the Extinguisher Can Help You With Grease, Oil, and Other Combustible and Flammable Liquids
If the fire extinguisher you are about to buy has the letter "B" on it, this will help you put out a chemical fire or one involving certain hazardous materials. A fire involving paint or paint thinner would be a good example. "B" is also designed to put out a fire that involves grease or gasoline or oil.
The Letter C Means the Extinguisher May Assist With an Electrical Fire
An electrical fire that starts within an appliance or some kind of power tool or piece of equipment that is still plugged in and operating when the fire starts is the type of fire that will require a "C" extinguisher. If you work in a business where equipment is in constant operation and things run hot from time to time, you may need one of these types of extinguishers.
There Are Other Letters Beyond ABC
Factory workers will be familiar with extinguishers featuring the letter "D" as this is a type of extinguisher designed to fight flammable metal. A metal shop that heats the metal it is working with would be a good example of this. "K" is another extinguisher type, and this is typically used in kitchens when trying to put out a vegetable oil fire, a fire involving animal fat, or any type of fire involving a cooking appliance where things in the pan or pot got a little too hot on you.
Talk to an Expert About the Right Kind of Extinguisher for You
Every business is different, and a local provider of fire extinguishers can help you find what you need. Some extinguishers may be capable of fighting multiple types of fires and will therefore feature more than one letter, but don't use an extinguisher that is not rated for a specific type of fire or you may make the problem worse.
Contact a supplier to learn more about fire extinguishers.