Simply put, the combination of heat, oxygen and fuel will create a fire, and the removal of any of these elements will extinguish that fire. In the workplace, employers are responsible for providing their employees with the necessary tools to stay safe during a fire and to help combat the fire in certain situations.

Fire extinguishers may serve as the first line of defense against a fire, but the extinguishers do not serve as a “one size fits all” solution. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can potentially make the situation worse. The appropriate type of fire extinguisher will vary depending on the fuel source that helped ignite the fire.

Fires are classified according to the type of fuel that is burning. Four classes make up the different types of fire.

  • Class A: This type of fire uses solids, not including metals, as its fuel source. Examples include wood, paper or cloth.
  • Class B: Flammable liquids make up this class, including examples such as gas, oil or grease.
  • Class C: Electrical fires make up the C Class. This type of fire often involves energized electrical equipment and items that are “plugged in.”
  • Class D: Metals, such as potassium, sodium or aluminum make up the final fire classification.

According to OSHA, employers are required to provide portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace. “All new employees are required to be trained on properly using fire extinguishers,” said Nick Daniels, Extinguisher Manager at Ryan Fireprotection. “Also, a refresher course is required on a yearly basis. It is extremely important that employees understand how and when to use a fire extinguisher.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Fire Extinguishers in the Workplace series, where we will discuss the different types of fire extinguishers, proper installation and placement of fire extinguishers.

To request that a Ryan Fireprotection professional perform a fire extinguisher training session for your workplace, please fill out this form or call 1.800.409.7606, and press 1 to be connected to our service department.