What is Fire?
Fire is an exothermic reaction between fuel and oxygen in presence of heat resulting in byproducts such as CO2 and ashes. It leads to the oxidation of material and produces heat and light.
Fire was discovered to be used in favor of us. Almost everybody view fire as a symbol of destruction, suffering etc. but fire is a source of energy like Sun. It gives us warmth and light. Likewise, fire was used in old days to keep out animals and provide light. But beyond control, anything is harmful.
So nowadays, fire is the most common hazards at any location. Even in factories and societies fire evacuation plans are considered first. To put out or douse a fire, first we must know the types of fires to correctly extinguish it, else wrong method can do more harm than good.
Types of Fire (Classes)
On the basis of fuel burnt fire is divided into further six categories-
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
- Class D
- Class E
- Class F
This is the type of fire in which the fuel is of normal items like wood, paper etc. This fire commonly occurs in schools, offices and if not controlled may result in extensive loss of life and property. To control and extinguish it, water type extinguisher shall be used. If in closed compartment, CO2 extinguisher is an ideal choice.
Class B (Oil):
This fire is caused by ignition of oil. Most people get confused between class A & B and hence throw water onto an oil fire. But this is a grave mistake as oil floats on water and continues burning. Additionally, water helps the oil to spread over a large area resulting in huge losses. Foam type extinguisher are best for oil fires.
Class C (Gas):
This fire is caused by fuel in the form of gas. Gases are involved in these fires such as LPG and compressed petroleum gases. This fire is spontaneous, i.e.: explodes when suitable conditions are met. Hence this fire is very deadly. This fire can be tackled by first closing the gas valve and then using inert gas or CO2 to cut off the Oxygen supply.
Class D (Metallic):
This type of fire is caused by burning of metals like magnesium, sodium and potassium. This fire must be put out by using DCP extinguisher. It cuts out the oxygen supply and smothers the fire.
Class E (Electric):
This type of fire is caused by electrical components & leads to short-circuit. This fire is also often confused with class A and without proper knowledge people throw water on it and it results in fatal accident. As we know impure water is a good conductor of electricity and one can get severe electrical shocks if water is thrown for extinguishing, which sometimes results in death. This occurs due to overheating of appliances. In order to control this type of fire first the main switch must be turned off and then DCP or CO2 extinguisher must be used.
Class F (Cooking oil):
This class is also similar to class B but here cooking oil is prime fuel. The difference is that LPG and other gases burn at a lower temperature (Class B) but cooking oil has very high flash point. This generally occurs in kitchen or galley area. This fire can be handled by wet chemical extinguishers, contrary to the DCP (Dry Chemical Powder).
Fire plays an important role in everyday life but just like every coin has two faces, fire can be highly dangerous and fatal if not handled properly. Onboard a ship fire is hazardous as controlling it is not easy due to limited resources available onboard.Hence fire should be handled with care.