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Classifying fires::Fire protection

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Classifying fires When deciding on what fire protection is appropriate for any given situation, it is important to assess the types of fire hazard that may be faced.

Some jurisdictions operate systems of classifying fires using code letters. Whilst these may agree on some classifications, they also vary. Below is a table showing the standard operated in Europe and Australia against the system used in the United States.

Type of Fire Australia European North America
Fires that involve flammable solids such as wood, cloth, rubber, paper, and some types of plastics. Class A Class A Class A
Fires that involve flammable liquids or liquefiable solids such as petrol/gasoline, oil, paint, some waxes & plastics, but not cooking fats or oils Class B Class B Class B
Fires that involve flammable gases, such as natural gas, hydrogen, propane, butane Class C Class C
Fires that involve combustible metals, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium Class D Class D Class D
Fires that involve any of the materials found in Class A and B fires, but with the introduction of an electrical appliances, wiring, or other electrically energized objects in the vicinity of the fire, with a resultant electrical shock risk if a conductive agent is used to control the fire. Class E1 (Class E) now no longer in the European standards Class C
Fires involving cooking fats and oils. The high temperature of the oils when on fire far exceeds that of other flammable liquids making normal extinguishing agents ineffective. Class F Class F Class K

1 Technically there is no such thing as a "Class E" fire, as electricity itself does not burn. However it is considered a dangerous and very deadly complication to a fire, therefore using the incorrect extinguishing method can result in serious injury or death. Class E, however generally refers to fires involving electricity, therefore a bracketed E, "(E)" denoted on various types of extinguishers.<ref>New South Wales Rural Fire Service VF - (2005) Village Firefighter Manual, pg 16.</ref>

Fires are sometimes categorized as "one alarm", "two alarm", "three alarm" (or higher) fires. There is no standard definition for what this means quantifiably, though it always refers to the level response by the local authorities. In some cities, the numeric rating refers to the number of fire stations that have been summoned to the fire. In others, the number counts the number of "dispatches" for additional personnel and equipment.<ref>http://www.nbc4.com/money/9208480/detail.html</ref><ref>http://www.thevillager.com/villager_39/fouralarmfire.html</ref>


Fire protection sections
Intro  Classifying fires  Components  Balanced Approach  Building Operation in conformance with Design  See also  Notes  Further reading  [[Fire_protection?section=External</a>_links|External</a> links]]  

Classifying fires
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