In Australia, there are six classes for fire extinguishers, classes A – F. Individual fire extinguishers can be rated for a single class or multiple depending on their application. Classes dictate the type of fires against which an extinguisher can be used.
Below is a complete list of the fire classes in Australia:
- Class A: General combustibles
- Class B: Combustible and flammable liquids
- Class C: Flammable gases
- Class D: Combustible metals
- Class E: Electrical devices and appliances
- Class F: Cooking fats and oils
It is vital that you get the right extinguisher for your industry or business. Because extinguishers can be ineffective or even dangerous when they are used on a fire which they have not been rated against.
Class A fires: general combustibles
General combustibles consist of basic flammable objects found in homes and businesses.
They can include:
Common instances of Class A fires include fires which have started due to the ignition of wastepaper baskets. Or fires that have resulted from candles or hearth embers falling onto carpets and furniture.
Class B fires: combustible and flammable liquids
Combustible and flammable liquids are common in homes and commercial operations.
They can include:
Common instances of Class B fires include ignition of petrol due to discarded cigarette butts. Or fires which have been started by sparks from commercial machinery coming into contact with oils.
Class C fires: flammable gases
Flammable gases are regularly used in home and commercial kitchens, garages, and workshops.
They can include:
- Natural gas
Class C fires can occur in kitchens or outside areas as a result of gas leaks from stoves, cooktops, or barbecue gas bottles. They can also begin due to leaks from gas-powered tools in workshops.
Class D fires: combustible metals
Fires resulting from combustible metals are less common, but they do pose a unique challenge.
Metal fires can involve the ignition of:
Generally, it takes extreme heat to ignite metals. So, fires of this type are usually confined to manufacturing plants and industrial locations where metals are being processed, moulded, and stored.
Class E fires: electrical devices and appliances
Even basic household appliances can cause fires due to wear or improper use.
Electrical fires can involve the ignition of:
- Heaters and fans
- Kitchen appliances
A classic example of an electrical fire is a fire caused by frayed wiring igniting carpets or curtains. They can also result from heaters being covered, or the overheating of kitchen appliances.
Class F fires: cooking fats and oils
Fat and oil fires typically occur in kitchens but can happen in most areas where food is prepared.
They can include ignition of:
- Fatty build-ups
- Cooking oils
- Cooking fats and lard
Cooking fires regularly take place when sparks from cook-tops encounter fatty build-ups in the ducting of commercial kitchens. Or they can start at home, due simply to an unattended and oil-filled pan.
Using the correct fire extinguisher is vitally important. If you have any questions about the kind of extinguisher you should have in your home or business then please contact Fast Fire Protection on 02 6541 0911.
Fire extinguisher classes in Australia vs. overseas
Fire classes can differ by country. For example, in the USA flammable gas fires are Class B whereas in Australia they are Class C. Similarly cooking oil fires in the USA are called Class K, in Australia they are called Class F.
Therefore, when choosing a fire extinguisher in Australia, it is important that you ensure your extinguisher is rated to Australian standards, not international ones.