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The four types of fires

by Ashleigh Petersen

Take 5 for Safety is a monthly article designed to give equipment and event rental stores the information they need to conduct a five-minute safety meeting on a particular topic. Below are talking points for this month’s meeting. The Take 5 for Safety signup sheet can be downloaded below. This can be used to take attendance during the meeting.

Types of fire:

Class A fires

  • Ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, brush, cloth and cardboard.
  • Extinguish by using water.

Class B fires

  • Flammable liquids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, hydraulic oil and oil-based paint.
  • Extinguish by removing the oxygen. Do not use water.

Class C fires

  • Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.
  • Extinguish by shutting off the electrical power, which serves as the fuel source. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers can be used. Do not use water.

Class D fires

  • Combustible metals such as magnesium, lithium, titanium and sodium.
  • Extinguish by removing the oxygen. Use dry dirt or sand to smother the fire. Do not use water, that can cause it to spark and the fire to grow.

Simple way to remember the classes:

Class A — think ash. Anything that makes ash when it burns.

Class B — anything you can put into a barrel.

Class C — think of circuits and circuitry. What has circuits and circuitry? Things with electricity.

Class D — they always say “metal fires are damn hard to put out.”

To reduce the risk of a Class B fire, follow this hazardous materials checklist:

  • Waste material containers are labeled to identify them as “waste” and should include the date of accumulation, type of hazard and address of generator.
  • Containers are sealed with proper lids.
  • Chemicals and toxic materials are kept in properly labeled containers stating “what it is and what it does.”
  • Safety data sheets (SDSs) are stored in employee work areas.
  • Records of annual employee review of those SDSs are kept.
  • 100 percent spill containment is provided for liquid hazardous materials.
  • Non-compatible materials are stored separately.
  • Compressed gasses are chained securely to a wall.

Review fire extinguishers

The most commonly found extinguishers are ABC extinguishers that will extinguish those three types of fires — A, B and C. Fire extinguishers throughout a rental business should be reviewed.

Fire safety training video

A full fire safety video is available on RentalU — the American Rental Association’s (ARA) online learning platform. This video, hosted by Kevin Gern, ARA director of safety, can be used to conduct annual fire safety training. To access the video, visit ARArental.org/rentalu, log in and search “Fire Extinguisher Safety Training.”