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How to Extinguish a Fire: The Complete Guide

Changing a tire, balancing a checkbook - there are certain tasks that everyone should learn for their own safety and peace of mind.

We firmly believe that knowing how to extinguish a fire should be on that list. It isn't always as easy as dumping water on some flames. Fires are grouped according to their fuel source, and each requires a different approach to extinguish the resulting flames.

Keep reading to learn about the classes of fires, and how to extinguish each type of fire.

Class A Fires

A class A fire is your typical fire, the kind that breaks out from common combustibles like wood, paper, fabric or plastic. Most household fires are class A fires.

To extinguish a class A fire, you'll need either a class A fire extinguisher, which uses monoammonium phosphate, or a steady stream of water. Point the extinguisher or water source at the fire and supply a steady stream, using a sweeping back and forth motion. Avoid standing too close to flames, and aim toward the base of the flames.

Every class of fire has its own type of extinguisher, or you can buy an automatic fire extinguisher that covers multiple classes of fire.

Class B Fires

Class B fires are more complicated. These fires involve a flammable liquid of some sort, like oil, gasoline or alcohol.

If you try to put out a class B fire with water, you could end up spreading the flaming material and making the fire larger instead of stopping it.

You'll need to cut off the fire's oxygen supply. Class B fire extinguishers contain some form of foam, powder, or carbon dioxide agent.

The fifth class of fire, class K, is technically part of this category and involves cooking oils.

In a pinch for a small liquid fire, like oil on a cooktop, you can use baking soda to smother the flames. Don't use water or you risk the oil splattering and burning surrounding people and objects.

Class C Fires

A class C fire involves an electrical source. Electrical fires are caused by old wiring gone bad, electrical cords that have frayed, appliances with faulty parts, or malfunctioning electrical components.

These fires also require something other than water to stop them from spreading. Water and foam are both electrical conductors, meaning you could shock yourself trying to extinguish the flames.

A class C fire extinguisher uses foam or carbon dioxide to smother flames.

Class D Fires

Class D fires are rare, most often happening in lab settings. These fires involve metals like potassium, magnesium, and sodium that ignite when exposed to air and water.

Class D fires may only be extinguished using a dry powder extinguisher. The powder separates the fuel source from oxygen.

Now You Know How to Extinguish a Fire!

Now that you know how to extinguish a fire, make sure you have the right extinguishers to get the job done!

Consider purchasing the AFG Fireball, an automatic fire extinguisher that works on three classes of fire and lasts for 15 years! Shop the rest of this site to learn more.