What Are Class A Fire Extinguishers Used for?

Views: 12     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-08-22      Origin: Site

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Very few people understand that fire extinguishers are available in multiple types and unique classes, both intended to reveal the distinct types of fires they work on.

Nonetheless, considering that property and life may significantly depend on the proper extinguisher usage on the correct fire type, we will explain the Class A fire extinguishers and their appropriate application.

Let's get going!


What Are Class A Fires?

First, before delving into the fire extinguishers, it is important to understand the specific fire, Class A, which the aforementioned Class A fire extinguisher works on. Ideally, there are multiple fire extinguishers based on the various fire types.

Every extinguisher is designed to suit a particular fire, hence the need to understand the difference to fight a fire successfully. Why? Knowing and distinguishing the different fire and extinguishers can be the lifesaving difference in a fire accident emergency.

Class A fires generally represent fires with normal combustible materials like paper, cloth, wood, plastics, and even rubber. Perhaps the most notable marker of standard Class A fires is that the fuel sources usually leave ash after burning. These fires are the simplest and usually involve ordinary materials commonly present in offices and homes.

The simplest way to identify Class A materials is to remember that they leave ash after burning. Ideally, a Class A fire extinguisher puts out these types of fires effectively.

Now that you understand what Class A fires are, the next thing is to understand Class A fire extinguishers, how they are used, and the unique symbols that identify them.

What Are Class A Fire Extinguishers?

A Class A fire extinguisher is specifically used in fires involving typical combustible materials like wood, cloth, and paper. Typically, these fires usually spread quickly and result in damage to nearby structures. These types of fire extinguishers put out fires that either contain hazardous material or are severely large. In addition, these extinguishers also work to prevent the fire from spreading.

Class A fire extinguishers are perhaps the most common and effective fire extinguishers and are particularly found in businesses and homes. So how do you identify Class A extinguishers?

Class A extinguishers usually come in red and feature a specified ABC rating. This means they work well in putting-out any fire classes, mainly domestic, building, and auto fires. Essentially, every fire begins small and spreads fast through ceilings and walls until they reach the ground level to allow extinguishment with a water cannon for hose.

Class A extinguishers comprise potassium chloride (KCl), a unique acid that effectively puts out fires when correctly used.

How Do Class A Fire Extinguishers Work?

Firefighters and first responders must be able to put out fires quickly and efficiently, hence the need for quality equipment and know-how of Class A fire extinguishers.

Class A types of fire extinguishers are used in putting out ordinary material fires. However, they feature a uniquely high amount of pressure compared to smaller extinguishers allowing them to put out fires quicker and more efficiently.

Ideally, a class A fire extinguisher is designed to deliver high-pressure water discharge at significantly high pressures of over 200 psi (pounds/square inch). These units are highly powerful and should not be used to put out smaller fires.

Class A fire extinguishers comprise a unique agent that usually creates steam and effectively reacts with the fire’s fuel. This steam is usually channeled through the tank’s nozzle and released into the fires.

This action dispersed the fire fuel without allowing a fire to rekindle whatsoever. In simple terms, Class A fire extinguishers comprise a special chemical that helps neutralize fires and prevent them from rekindling and spreading. This unique chemical is usually mixed with water when the extinguisher is pressurized with air. The resulting mixture then spreads across the area on fire, allowing you to minimize and eliminate any chance of fire re-igniting or rekindling.

Types of Class A Fire Extinguishers and Applications

By now, you already understand that there are different types of fires and extinguishers, particularly the latter. With this in mind, what are the available types of fire extinguishers structured for putting out Class A fires?

Here are the notable Class A fire extinguisher options available in the market and their specific uses:

Standard Water Fire Extinguishers

The sole purpose of water extinguishers is to remove heat from fires, disintegrating the 'fire triangle.' These extinguishers are simple solutions for typical Class A fires.

Standard water extinguishers are an ideal classic model dispensing water at high pressure to extinguish fires. These extinguishers are usually solid red and have the term 'aqua spray' or 'water' printed across the tank in a unique signal red band, usually featuring a white border.

Standard water extinguishers are solely suited for Class A fires, meaning they are ideal for fires involving cardboard, wood, fabric, plastics, solid materials, and textiles.

Water Mist/Dry water mist Fire Extinguisher

The dry mist extinguishers usually feature a solid red color and comprise the words ‘water mist’ boldly printed within a yellow triangle. These fire extinguishers are particularly notable since they are designed to combat nearly all fire types, including the difficult-to-contain class F fires.

Essentially, the extinguisher’s nozzle usually converts water into distinctly ‘dry’ microscopic particles that are subsequently drawn into the fires and simultaneously suffocate and cool the fires to extinguish fire flames.

Dry mist extinguishers also work effectively in firefighting missions since they create a unique safety barrier between the fire and the user that repels a substantial amount of heat and doesn't usually leave any hard-to-clean residues after use.

Note: Modern developments surprisingly allow these water mist extinguishers to function as 'clean agent' type extinguishers. This must avoid water damage from regular water fire extinguishers, and it can be safely used on live electric cables. Typically, this unique agent reduces heat from fires and is primarily utilized as a Class A fire extinguisher where probable Class C risk exists.

ABC powder Fire Extinguisher:

Like the name boldly suggests, ABC powder extinguishers are specifically designed to put out class A, B, and C types of fires—fires involving solids, gasses, and liquids. Typically, the ABC powder is a unique thermal blast designed to cool the fire flames and discontinue burning.

ABC powder extinguishers have a distinct non-conductive nature, making them ideal for combating electrical fires. Nonetheless, these extinguishers don't properly penetrate equipment spaces easily, meaning a fire could re-ignite.

These powder fire extinguishers are clearly labeled 'powder' in white text atop a blue triangle, with the term ‘ABC powder’ subscribed underneath the rectangle.

Note: ABC powder types of extinguishers have a notable downside, nonetheless, since they threaten inhalation, especially if utilized in confined spaces. Hence their use in such applications is discouraged. Also, ABC powder extinguishers leave a solid residue that is relatively hard to clean and damages carpets, electrical equipment, and soft furnishings. As such, using an alternative extinguisher for electric fires is always recommended, like in offices with printers and computers.

Foam Fire Extinguishers:

A foam extinguisher is also an effective class A fire extinguisher. These types of extinguishers are notable for their 'foam' label, usually printed within a distinct cream rectangle on the tank. Foam extinguishers are ideal for putting out Class A fires and are predominantly water-based, although they comprise a unique foaming agent.

This agent boasts a unique blanketing effect and rapid flame knock-down capacity. It usually smothers the fire flames and subsequently seals vapors to ensure no re-ignition. With this unique agent, these extinguishers assist in both suffocating and cooling fires, hence their popular use in putting out Class A fires.

Warning: Although these extinguishers are suitable for Class A fires, they should not be applied in other fires, particularly fat pan, chip, or electrical fires. Many types of foam extinguishers usually have electrical tests done on them. Hence foam is less hazardous than standard water when accidentally sprayed on live electrical cables & equipment. Nonetheless, these extinguishers should not be applied in fighting electrical fires since they are unsuitable.

Clean Agent Fire Extinguishers:  

These are unique Class A fire extinguishers that use 'clean' or halogenated agents that are eco-friendlier and avoid contaminating the area where used. This clean agent usually cools the burning material and interrupts the chemical reaction, effectively eradicating the fire's heat element.

The relatively larger handheld extinguisher models (from 11 lb and over) are generally rated and designed for Class A fires. However, the smaller models don't usually comprise enough agents for classification as class A extinguishers.

Multipurpose Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers:

This is Another superb class A fire extinguisher designed to put out Class A fires among other types of fires like Class C and B. Dry chemical extinguishers comprise a distinctive agent that works by interrupting chemical reactions in oxygen, heat, fuel & chemical reaction (also called Fire Triangle) to put out all class A fires.

Note: Standard dry chemical (BC) extinguishers comprising sodium bicarbonate-based agents don't usually put out class A fires and are solely designed for classes C and B.

How To Use Class A Fire Extinguishers

The best approach to using Class A types of fire extinguishers is spraying them directly on the flames until the fire dies down. If you are unsure about how to perform this, you should call 911 for help from firefighters trained to put out fires safely and offer care.

  1. Class A fire-type extinguishers are structured uniquely to extinguish fires involving flammable gasses or liquids. These types of extinguishers comprise high-pressure gas designed to eat through the fire's fuel source and prevent it from further burning.

  2. The Class A extinguishers are solely structured to contain fires in the most adverse situations. Ideally, the extinguishers are made to discharge at over 2000 psi which is ample enough to extinguish fires that have adversely spread across an area or structure. Since they are that powerful, it is important to ensure that you should never use them for normal purposes. This means that these units are only utilized in emergencies and must be placed in areas that are only accessible by experts or trained fire handlers like firefighters and other qualified emergency responders.

  3. Furthermore, since Class A fire extinguishers are so powerful, these units should only be applied as a final resort or where no other option is possible. Ideally, Class A extinguishers are not applicable for everyday purposes, as earlier mentioned.

  4. The class A units are fire extinguishers that should be utilized where damage is possibly going to be extensive, not to mention situations where there is a likelihood of property and human life loss.

  5. Finally, when it comes to Class A foam fire extinguishers, the application is quite simple: point the nozzle to the fire and spray the fire. Nonetheless, when you use these extinguishers against other types of fires, specifically class B fire flames-flames with flammable liquids-the units shouldn't be sprayed directly into the given liquid. Why? This can result in the fire being pushed and spreading to the surrounding places.

Note: the most recommendable application method for foam spray class A fire extinguishers is spraying the foam nearby to allow its buildup and flow across the area.


Class A extinguishers are among the most powerful units available, not to mention being the most expensive. These extinguishers can extinguish fires in or around vehicles, buildings, and similar structures. Better yet, with these units, you will find that some can be used for several other types of fires (multipurpose applications), like the multi-purpose dry chemical options, while the other named options can only work for Class A fires like the water extinguishers.

Ultimately, picking out a fire extinguisher for the specific fire type you are handling is essential. Utilizing the wrong extinguisher at best may prove rather ineffective or, worse, could result in the fire spreading or potential hazards (like water extinguishers when used on electric fires or oil fires where there are chances of severe burns or electrocution). Luckily, with this exclusive guide, you now have adequate information to put out a class-A fire effectively.

Find The Right Class A Fire Extinguisher for Your Needs

Is your premises or workplace safeguarded by the proper Class A fire extinguisher? As aforementioned, it is essential to have a fire extinguisher suitable for the Class A fire to avoid severe fire hazards potentially.

If you are looking for a  Class A fire extinguisher or are uncertain about the type and Class that would suitably fit your needs, give us a call today and speak to our team of experts. We can offer the necessary information to safeguard your people and property.

Good luck!