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10/17/2016

WhatdoFireExtinguisherRatingsMean?

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Fire Extinguisher Ratings Explained


Weareaskedthisquestionsomanytimes.Thesemysticalcodesthatareprintedonallqualityapprovedfire
extinguishersaretheretoindicatenotjustthetypeoffirethatparticularextinguishercancombatbutalsothesizeofthe
firethecontentscaneffectivelyputout.

Soforexample,awateradditivestoredpressureextinguishercoded13AwillextinguishaClassAfireoffreelyburning
combustiblesofsize13.Whatthedevilissize13youmayask?Wellitsdefinitelynotashoesizebutaspecific
arrangementofcombustiblesusedtotesttheextinguisher.

DifferenttestsapplytoeachClassoffire(fromA,B,C,D&F)buttheruleisthelargerthenumberbeforetheCodeletter
thebiggerthefire(ofthatClass)thatcanbeextinguished.

Foramoredetailedexplanation,readon.

FireRatingsExplained
MostfireextinguishershaveafireRatingprintedonthecanister.Thiscode,forexample13A/55B,definestheClass(or
type)offireandthesizeoffirethistypeoffireextinguisheriscapableofextinguishing.
Thusinour13A/55BexamplethisextinguisherwillcombataClassAfire(typicallyfreelyburningmaterialslikewood,
clothandcoal)ofSize13oraClassBfire(flammableliquid)ofsize55.ForClassAfirestheSizetestisconductedusing
afirecomprisinganopenlatticeworkofwoodensticksapprox40mmsquarex500mmlongpiled14high.Thenumber13
comesfromthenumberofsticksineachrowastheexamplebelow.Fireextinguishersthatcanputoutafireuptothissize
arerated13A.A34Awouldextinguishastackwith34sticksandsoon,sothehigherthenumberthebiggerthefireitcan
extinguish.

Inpracticeyoushouldestimatethevolumeofcombustiblesatriskagainstthisbenchmarkandselectthemostapplicable
sizeforthejob.Alwayserronthesideofcaution.Havingdecideda13Aratingisappropriateyoucanthencompare
Ratingsonthedifferenttypesofextinguishingagentsandavailablesizestodecidethemostappropriateforyour
application.

Available13Aratedextinguishers*PlainWater6litre
WaterwithAdditive3litre
Foam(AFFF)3litre
ABCDryPowder2Kg
(CO2isunsuitableforthistypeoffire)

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10/17/2016

WhatdoFireExtinguisherRatingsMean?

Inourexample13A/55Bwethenhave
tolookat55B
ClassBfiresinvolveburningliquids
likepetrol,oils(notcookingoils)
heptaneetc.OnlyAFFFfoam,CO2
andDryPowderextinguishersare
suitableforthisapplication.(See
ExtinguisherChart)
Theprefix55againdefinesthesizeof
fireandinthiscaseiseasierto
visualiseasinthiscasethetestuses
55litresofburningfuel.A175Brating
uses175litresandsoon.

Bythewaythereisnosuchthingasa
ClassEratingintheUKoftenthought
tocoverElectricalfires.Manyfiresare
causedbyelectricalfaultswhichin
consequenceigniteotherflammables.Ifanextinguisherisdescribedassafetouseonfiresinvolvingliveelectricityit
meansthesuppressantisnotinherentlyelectricallyconductivesoyoudontriskelectrocutionwhencombatingthefire.In
anyeventasensibleapproachistocutoffthepowersupplytoanyareawhereafireoccurs.

Takealookatthefullerarticleasitcouldhelpyoudecidewhichextinguisheryouneedbasedonthescienceratherthan
guesswork.

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