Understanding Fire Extinguisher Ratings Before Buying Safety Supplies

Facility managers are not just tasked with making sure their buildings are clean and sanitary; they are also tasked with making sure they are safe. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common perils that buildings face is fire.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there were over 100,000 non-residential fires in 2013 alone, representing about $2.6 billion in damages and causing injuries to some 1,500 civilians.

Fortunately, building fires can usually be contained with the help of fire extinguishers. That being said, fire extinguishers are not a one-size-fit all solution. If you look at the options on the market, you’ll see that extinguishers are assigned different ratings. For those who aren’t sure what these mean—and which one they should get—Dutch Hollow Supplies, a seller of office supplies serving St. Louis clients, offers a quick and useful guide.

Class A Rating

Class A rated fire extinguishers are designed to douse fires that involve wood, paper, textiles, plastics, and other dry materials. In this variant, the primary ingredient is a chemical called monoammonium phosphate, especially suited for such fires.

Class B Rating

Class B rated fire extinguishers, on the other hand, are the exact opposite of the Class A variant. This extinguisher is designed to snuff out flames whose fuel is liquid in nature, such as oil, kerosene, or paint. Because of the unique nature of such fires—pouring water on them only spreads the fire—Class B extinguishers use two chemical compounds: monoammonium phosphate to kill the flames; and sodium bicarbonate which neutralizes the chemicals.

Class C Rating

Lastly, Class C rated fire extinguishers are useful for fires where live electricity is present (i.e. if a copier sparks and starts a flame). As with the above example, you can’t douse water on such a flame because it might conduct electricity and electrocute people. Class C fire extinguishers also use monoammonium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate, both of which are non-conductive.

Fortunately, many fire extinguishers are triple-rated, meaning they are suitable for Type A, B, and C fires. If you need to purchase or restock your fire extinguishers, be sure to contact trusted safety supplies providers in the St. Louis area. With their help, your facility will have an effective first line of defense to deploy come a fire. 

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