A fire suppression system, like a fire sprinkler system, is used to extinguish or control fires, and is activated by heat, smoke, or a combination of the two. However, a fire suppression system uses gaseous, chemical, or foam fire suppression agents to suppress the fire, rather than water.
Because water can damage some types of property, such as electronics, areas like server rooms or semiconductor manufacturing facilities would benefit from a fire suppression system rather than a sprinkler system. For facilities that deal with highly combustible substances or oil and gas, a fire suppression system is also necessary, since water is not effective as a fire suppression agent when oil and certain other substances are combusted.
Types of Fire Suppression Systems
There are chemical, gaseous, and foam fire suppression agents, all of which have specific applications. These include:
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – a gaseous agent that works quickly and efficiently, but can be dangerous to human health. Best for unmanned, unoccupied facilities.
Dry Chemical Suppression – which quickly extinguishes fires caused by combustible/flammable liquids. Good for furnace rooms, flammable liquid storage areas, and mechanical rooms.
Wet Chemical Suppression – which utilizes liquid substances and prevents re-ignition. Works well for kitchens.
Clean Agent Fire Suppression – which leaves no residue, making it ideal for sensitive applications like museums, archives, libraries, computer or server rooms, etc.
The Responsible Person for the building is obligated by governing law to carry out, or arrange for, a fire risk assessment of the business premises.
As part of the fire risk assessment, the premises must be equipped with the appropriate fire detection and fire-fighting equipment. Fire extinguishers come under this equipment.
As the Responsible Person, it is your duty to ensure fire extinguishers are readily available on your premises and that an adequate number of people are trained to use them if a fire were to occur. In order to remain compliant with the current British Standard (BS 5306-3), fire extinguishers must undergo an annual service.
Lexicon Fire Systems can assist with complying with the recommendations of the British Standard with regard to quantities, types and locations, providing the extinguishers and installing them in the building.
Choosing the Correct Fire Extinguisher
Do you need a fire extinguisher? There’s a good chance that you do. If your premises are used for non-domestic activities you may be legally required to install and maintain at least one fire extinguisher. This can include home-based businesses as well as the traditional workplace.
It is vital that you have the knowledge to operate a fire extinguisher in case of emergency, and that you choose the correct variety of fire extinguisher for the kind of fire you are most likely to experience.
In this guide we aim to give you an overview of the different varieties of fire extinguisher available, their uses, and how to identify them in an emergency situation. We will also provide you with basic operating instructions. Let our years of experience help you to keep your property, and your people safe.
There are in fact several different types of fire extinguisher, each one designed to tackle one or more type of fire. Using the wrong kind can be completely ineffective, and even dangerous, so it’s important to understand which extinguisher to use and when.
Types of Fire:
In order to select the correct fire extinguisher for your premises you first need to identify from which class of fire you are at most risk. Fires are differentiated into Classes A, B, C, D, Electrical, and F. The following is a brief overview of each class.
Know your fires: Fire Classification
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First, let’s take a look at the different types of fire that you might encounter. They’re known as fire classes, and all fire extinguishers will detail which type they’re appropriate for.
Class A Fires
Class A fires are the most commonly encountered kind, and involve most varieties of solid combustible material. This can typically include wood, paper and textiles, and commonly occur in the home as well as in the workplace. Class A fires are combated effectively and cheaply by the use of either water or foam fire extinguishers.
Class B Fires
Class B fires are outbreaks involving flammable liquids. These include fuels such as petrol and diesel, but also paints, oils and alcohol. For Class B fires a foam fire extinguisher is recommended.
Class C Fires
Class C fires are caused by flammable or combustible gases. These include those used as fuel such as methane, propane, or natural gas. A powder fire extinguisher is the recommended choice for a Class C fire. Powder fire extinguishers carry a risk of inhalation and therefore should not be used in confined spaces. They are more suitable for large workshops or forecourts.
Class D Fires
Class D fires are mostly encountered in industrial settings and they refer specifically to fires resulting from flammable metals like magnesium. Class D fires are put out by specialist dry powder extinguishers- like this one.
Electrical fires are fires involving electrical equipment or appliances. These can occur at home, in the office, or anywhere that electrical equipment is in use. Due to the risk of electric shock, and further equipment damage, water extinguishers are not recommended for electrical fires. Instead a CO2 extinguisher is best.
F Class Fires
Class F fires typically occur in professional kitchens or other spaces where oils are being heated to high temperatures, like in a deep-fat fryer. Due to the exceptionally high temperatures involved in these fires a wet chemical extinguisher is recommended. We carry several wet chemical extinguishers which are suitable for Class A, B and F fires- making them great all-rounders for in the home, or in a workplace with on-site food preparation facilities.