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Firefighter teaching woman or man how to using fire extinguisher spraying foam to fire burning on gas container.

The right fire equipment can be the first line of defence against a fire hazard. In Australia, there are 6 classes of fire extinguishers each designed to address different sources of fuel. Having the right fire extinguishers and getting them regularly tested is important for maintaining safety in every building with fire hazards.

At Intelligent Training Solutions, our test and tag courses include fire extinguisher testing courses designed to train individuals to maintain safe and well-functioning fire extinguishers. Below we look at each class of fire extinguisher and when to use them.

The Fire Classes

Fires are divided into six classes based on what can fuel a fire. Categorising fuels helps identify the type of fire extinguisher needed.

  1. Class A: Wood, Paper and Plastic. This is the most common type of fire.
  2. Class B: Flammable and Combustible Liquids. This includes petrol, paint, cleaning spirits and alcohol.
  3. Class C: Flammable Gases. This involves combustible gases such as butane and LPG.
  4. Class D: Flammable Metals. This includes metals such as lithium and potassium.
  5. Class E: Electrical Fires. This involves electrical equipment such as computers.
  6. Class F: Cooking Oils and Fats. This usually involves oils, lard or butter used in cooking.

Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

It is essential to understand which fire extinguisher type should be used in each situation. A prominent coloured band represents the type of suppression used:

  • Red (water): only suitable for Class A fires.
  • Blue (foam): only suitable for Class A and B fires.
  • White (dry powder): for Class B, E and A fires.
  • Black (carbon dioxide): suitable for Class E and B fires.
  • Yellow (vaporising liquids): suitable for Class E and A fires.
  • Oatmeal (wet chemical): suitable for Class A and F fires.

With proper use, a fire extinguisher can reduce or eliminate the risk of injury, damage and even save lives by helping to control a small fire breaking out.

Safety Tips for Fire Extinguishers

All fire extinguishers must be tested every 6 months, with records and dates of each test kept on an attached metal tag maintained by a trained professional. It’s important everyone understands which fire extinguishers they have access to and relevant safety considerations.

For example, a red extinguisher containing water should never be used on Class B and Class F fires as they can potentially spread the flames. Meanwhile, a black extinguisher features a noisy and cold discharge with high pressure and is ineffective on Class A fires.

Explore Fire Blanket and Fire Extinguisher Testing Courses

If you’re interested in becoming qualified to inspect and test fire extinguishers, study at Intelligent Training Solutions in Victoria. Enrol in one of our test and tag courses today.