Every office, enterprise and multi-complex structure must have fire extinguishers of suitable type to prevent major fire, reduce its impact and avoid loss of human lives and properties.
As cause of fire can be different, fire extinguisher types and sizes too can vary. Fire can happen due to faulty electrical circuits, inflammable chemicals or gases, defective machinery or equipment, human errors or unknown natural cause. As per the government regulations, every industry, irrespective of its size and nature, and building – commercial or residential complex - must have standard fire protection equipment.
As per the BS EN 3 guidelines in India, every fire extinguisher should be painted with RED in colour for clear visibility from distance. As there are different kinds of fire extinguishers used to dose different types of fire, five per cent of the fire extinguisher area can be used to colour code to distinguish the content or chemicals present inside the equipment.
Fire extinguishers are classified as per the international standards -- Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers, Foam Fire Extinguishers, CO2 Fire Extinguishers, Water Fire Extinguishers, Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers and Water Mist Fire Extinguishers.
In India, they are classified as per the nature of content and broken down into six different categories ranging from A to F.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
CLASS A- Solids: Includes materials such as plastic, wood and paper.
CLASS B- Flammable Liquids: Petrol, Chemical, Oil or Paraffin.
CLASS C- Flammable Gases: Compressed gas, Butane, Methane, etc.
CLASS D- Metals: Aluminum, Magnesium or Titanium.
CLASS E- Electricity-related fires.
CLASS F- Cooking oil and fat induced fires.
Red Colour Code
For normal grocery stores and retail outlets, one can use fire extinguishers having red colour coding. This indicates that the contents in the fire extinguisher cylinder is water. They are the cheapest and the most popular fire extinguishers which should only be used for Class A type of fires.
Cream Colour Code
Coded with cream colour, these are known as foam fire extinguishers. This type is bit expensive compared to water one as it can be used for more types of fires. Cream Colour coded fire extinguishers can be used against both Class A and B types of fires. Even if one uses this on electrical fire, it will be much safer compared to water type.
Blue Colour Code
Fire extinguishers with blue colour coding are filed with dry powder. They are highly effective for Class B kind of fires, but can also be used to extinguish fire that falls under Classes C and A categories. Known as "multi-purpose" fire extinguisher, it can also be used for type D category of fire with special powder. However, Dry powder type can make the place messy, affect the machinery and also blur eyes when used indoors.
Black Colour Code:
Fire Extinguishers filled with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are coded with black colour. This is extremely effective in case of Class E (electrical) and Class B (liquid) fires. However, this type offers temporary relief as the fire can start again. CO2 fire extinguisher with wet chemical can be used to dose Class F type of fire.
Green Colour Code:
These are known as Halon fire extinguisher. This is not available freely as it can only be used by military or law enforcement personnel.
By understanding the colour code and analylsing the kind of fire risks the establishments would likely to face, vendors should get the right fire extinguishers for their buildings.
Using proper fire extinguisher will not only put the fire under control, but will also make sure that it will be carried out safely.