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Fire Safety: Classes Of Fire, Hazards and Control Measures

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Fire Safety: Classes Of Fire, Hazards and Control Measures

What is Fire Safety

Fire safety is the prevention of fires and the protection of people and property from fire. It includes both active measures, such as installing smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, and passive measures, such as designing buildings with fire-resistant materials.

Reducing the risk of fire starts with understanding the three elements of fire: fuel, heat and oxygen. By removing one or more of these elements, you can prevent a fire from starting or spreading.

Importance Of Fire Safety

Fire safety is important for many reasons. First and foremost, fires can be deadly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a fire killed an average of three people every day in 2017. And while that number has been trending downward over the past few decades, it's still far too high.

In addition to the loss of life, fires also cause billions of dollars in damage each year. The NFPA estimates that fires caused $23 billion in property damage in 2017 alone. That doesn't even include the cost of business interruption or the emotional toll of losing everything you own in a fire.

Fire safety is also important from a liability standpoint. If someone is injured in a fire at your home or business, you could be held liable. And if the fire is determined to be caused by negligence on your part, you could be facing some serious legal troubles.

So, as you can see, there are many good reasons to make sure your home or business is as safe from fire as possible. By taking some basic precautions and being aware of the potential risks, you can help keep yourself and those around you safe from the devastating effects of fire.

That's why it's important to have a plan in place in case of a fire. Knowing what to do in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. So take the time to develop a fire safety plan for your home or business today. It could one day save your life or the life of someone you love.

While a lot of the responsibility for fire safety falls on the shoulders of building owners and managers, there are also things that tenants can do to help prevent fires and keep themselves safe.

3 P's of Fire Safety

The three P's of fire safety are people, property and prevention.

People: The most important thing in any fire is to get everyone out safely. That means having an evacuation plan and making sure everyone knows where to go and what to do in the event of a fire.

Property: Your second priority should be your property. If you can, try to salvage as much as possible. But always remember that your safety comes first.

Prevention: The best way to deal with a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That means being aware of potential hazards and taking steps to reduce the risk of fire.

By following the three P's of fire safety, you can help keep yourself and those around you safe from the devastating effects of fire.

Fire Classes Or Types

Classes Of Fire

Fires are classified into five categories according to fuel type. The classification of fire or types is useful as the basis for identifying which type of fire extinguisher to use. Note that the classifications shown here are those used in the UK and the EU; different classification systems exist in other countries and regions. There is no global standard and it is important that workers know the system relevant to the country in which they find themselves working. 

Class A

The five classes of fire are:

Class A fires are those that involve solid materials such as wood, paper, cardboard, textiles, furniture and plastics where there are normally glowing embers during combustion. Such fires are extinguished by cooling, which is achieved using water.

Water is the most effective means of extinguishing a Class A fire because it cools the burning material and the surrounding area, preventing the fire from spreading. Class A fires typically occur in homes and businesses, so it is important to be familiar with how to extinguish them.

Class B

A class B fire is a type of fire that involves liquids or liquefied solids, such as paints, oils or fats. These types of fires are often difficult to extinguish and can pose a serious threat to both property and life. Class B fires typically require the use of specialized firefighting techniques and equipment in order to be effectively controlled.

These can be further subdivided into:

Class B1: Fires that involve liquids that are soluble in water such as methanol. They can be extinguished by carbon dioxide, dry powder, water spray, light water and vaporizing liquid;

Class B2 – Fires that involve liquids not soluble in water, such as petrol and oil. They can be extinguished by using foam, carbon dioxide, dry powder, light water and vaporizing liquid. 

Class C 

A Class C fire is one that involves gases such as natural gas, or liquefied gases such as butane or propane. They can be extinguished using foam or dry powder in conjunction with water to cool any containers involved or nearby. Class C fires are often difficult to control and can be very dangerous. It is important to have the proper equipment and training if you are going to attempt to extinguish one of these fires.

Class D

These fires involve metals such as aluminum or magnesium. Special dry powder extinguishers are required to extinguish these fires, which may contain powdered graphite or talc.

Class D fire extinguishers are usually found in chemical laboratories and factories where there is a risk of metal fires. They work by creating a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen, smothering the fire and preventing it from spreading.

Class F

A Class F fire is one that involves cooking oils or fats, such as those used in deep fryers. They can be extinguished using water, foam or dry powder.

Class F fires are common in commercial kitchens and restaurants, so it is important to know how to extinguish them quickly and effectively.

Electrical Fires

Fires involving electrical equipment or circuitry do not constitute a fire class on their own, as electricity is a source of ignition that will feed a fire until switched off or isolated. But there are some pieces of equipment that can store, within capacitors, lethal voltages even when isolated. Extinguishers specifically designed for electrical use like carbon dioxide or dry powder units should always be used for this type of fire hazard.

The Fire Hazards and Control Measures

Common Causes Of Fire And Consequences

Causes

The Communities and Local Government fire statistics show the causes of fires in buildings, excluding dwellings, in recent years. The majority of fires occurred in:

  • Private garages and sheds (22%) – 6,700 fires;
  • Retail distribution (14%) – 4,200 fires;
  • Restaurants, cafes, public houses, etc. (9%) – 2,600 fires;
  • Industrial premises (other than construction) (8%) – 2,400 fires;
  • Recreational and other cultural services (6%) – 1,700 fires.

About 35 people die in buildings other than dwellings each year. Also in fires in other buildings, about 1,300 injuries are sustained each year. These figures represent around 8% of all fire deaths and 10% of nonfatal casualties.

Consequences

The main consequences of fire are: 

Death – although this is a very real risk, relatively few people die in building fires that are not in dwellings. Each year about 35 (8%) people die out of a total of about 440 in all fires. The main causes of all deaths are:

  • Overcome by gas or smoke – 43%
  • Burns – 26%
  • Burns and overcome by gas or smoke – 20%
  • Other – 2%.
  • Unspecified – 9%

Clearly gas and smoke are the main risks. 

Personal injury – some 1,282 people were injured (10% of total injuries in all fires);

Building damage – can be very significant, particularly if the building materials have poor resistance to fire and there is little or no built-in fire protection;

Flora and fauna damage – can be significant, particularly in a hot drought or forest fire;

Loss of business and jobs – it is estimated that about 40% of businesses do not start up again after a significant fire. Many are under-or not insured and small companies often cannot afford the time and expense of setting up again when they probably still have old debts to service;

Transport disruption – rail routes, roads and even airports are sometimes closed because of a serious fire. The worst cases in recent years were 11 September 2001 in the USA and the Icelandic ash cloud over Europe in 2010, when airports around the world were disrupted;

Environmental damage from the fire and/or fighting the fire – fire-fighting water, the products of combustion and exploding building materials, such as asbestos cement roofs, can contaminate significant areas around the fire site.

Hazards & Control Measures Related to Fire At Workplace

There are many hazards and control measures related to fire at the workplace. Some of the most common are:

Flammable and combustible materials: Flammable and combustible materials are one of the most common causes of fires in the workplace. They should be stored properly and away from heat sources.

Electrical equipment: Electrical equipment should be properly maintained and used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Heating equipment: Heating equipment should be properly maintained and used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Smoking: Smoking should be prohibited in the workplace.

Fire exits: Fire exits should be clearly marked and unobstructed.

Fire alarms: Fire alarms should be installed and tested regularly.

Fire extinguishers: Fire extinguishers should be easily accessible and appropriate for the type of fire that could occur in the workplace. employee training on how to use them correctly is essential.

While fires are not common, they can have devastating consequences, both in terms of loss of life and damage to property. It is important to be aware of the hazards and control measures related to fires in the workplace, in order to prevent them from happening.

The next time you are at work, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the fire exits and alarm system and make sure you know how to use a fire extinguisher. It could save your life or the life of someone else.

Don't wait until it's too late! Be prepared and stay safe.

If you have any questions about fire safety in the workplace, please contact your local fire department. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for taking the time to learn about this important topic!

Badar Javed

Badar Javed

I have been in the safety industry for over 10 years, working with various organizations to implement and monitor safety procedures. My experience ranges from construction sites to oil refineries, and I have seen first-hand the importance of safety in protecting workers and customers alike.