Two Fire raging.

Different Types of Fires - No Two Fires Are Alike

Fire is always an unpredictable phenomenon that demands comprehensive knowledge and preparedness to manage effectively. Each fire is unique. Shaped by the type of materials burning, the environment, and the conditions at the time. The challenge in extinguishing a fire effectively and preventing its reignition is well illustrated in this video showing Jenifer Aniston struggling to put out a fire, on national TV, with a traditional extinguisher as it keeps flaring up repeatedly. This scenario illustrates that fires don't respond the same way in any given situation. 


The fire triangle can come together with a variety of materials and occur under different conditions. All fires are influenced by:

  • Ventilation: Airflow can dramatically change how a fire behaves. It is important to control this factor where possible.

  • Materials: Different materials burn at different rates and temperatures. What seems manageable can quickly become volatile without warning.

  • Environmental Conditions: Weather conditions such as wind can accelerate the spread of fire, while humidity levels can affect how materials burn.

All these factors influence how the fire behaves and how it should be extinguished. But every fire is different, even when you try to control the different variables. The clip above highlights even under controlled circumstances, fire has a mind of its own. That's why it’s so important to learn about fire safety!

Identifying the Common Types of Fire

Icons for the A,B,C,D & K fire classes.

Fires are classified based on the materials that are involved in fueling the fire. Identifying this will tell us the type of fire we are dealing with and dictate the best extinguishing tactics to use. The main classes of fire include:

Class A fires: These involve common combustible materials such as paper, and cloth.

Class B fires: These are fires in flammable liquids like gasoline and oil.

Class C fires: These are fires that are electrically charged  so they require extinguishers that are safe to use around electricity.

Class K fires: These are kitchen fires that typically involve cooking oils and fats.

Using the wrong type of extinguisher on any of these fire classes can be ineffective. As seen in the video, fire is unpredictable. Even with the right equipment you may need to adapt quickly to the situation in order to eliminate the fire risk completely.

Steps to Handle an Unpredictable Fire

  1. Assess The Situation Quickly: Identify which of the 5 classes of fire you're dealing with by identifying the materials involved. This will dictate your next steps. If it's a class A,B,C or K fire and it's still in the incendiary phase, proceed to grab your extinguisher and fight it. 

  2. Use Your Element Extinguisher: Element fights all major fire classes. This includes class A fires, class B fires, class C fires, and class K fires. If you do not have an Element, use a traditional extinguisher that is appropriate for your fire. Do not use the wrong extinguisher to put out the wrong fire class, the result may be unpredictable and could cause more damage. Continue reading to learn more about this. 

  3. Use Your Extinguisher Effectively: Even with the right extinguisher, technique matters. No matter which extinguisher you're using, you must learn how to operate it effectively. Always be ready to adapt if the fire does not respond as expected. With Element, drape the flames with the expelled vapor to interrupt the chemical chain reaction and extinguish the fire.

  4. Evacuate If Necessary: If the fire escalates or does not respond to initial attempts to extinguish it, evacuate immediately and call for professional help.

  5. Prevent Fire Spread: Close doors and windows to limit oxygen and prevent drafts. Remove flammable materials from the area if it's safe to do so. Click here to learn more about how closing your bedroom door can help fight fire.

Why Having the Right Fire Extinguisher Matters

A traditional fire extinguisher is often filled with water, foam, or dry powder. These are suitable for different classes but may be ineffective or hazardous when used on other types of fires. For example, using water extinguishers on a grease fire (Class K) or an electrical fire (Class C) can spread the fire or result in electrocution. Knowing the use cases of different types of extinguishers can help you choose the right fire extinguisher that your fire requires. 

Element is a clean agent extinguisher that will not cause additional damage. You can tackle multiple fire types and it's safe to use around your family and pets. Some brands of clean agent extinguishers can be costly  and are used exclusively in museums to protect expensive art or in server rooms to protect expensive electrical equipment. Element offers all the benefits of the clean extinguishers at a fraction of the cost.

Comprehensive Fire Protection with Element

The Element fire extinguisher offers an innovative approach to tackling the major classes of fire. Unlike traditional extinguishers that can be bulky and require regular maintenance, Element uses a solid chemical reaction to produce a gas that effectively fights A, B, C, and K class fires. Its compact size and ease of use makes it an excellent choice for both household and commercial settings. Moreover, it does not leave behind residue. This makes cleanup easier and minimizes damage to property.

Fire Safety Training is Important

Knowledge of fire safety is crucial in effectively responding to a fire. Regular Fire safety training can educate individuals on the different classes of fire, appropriate extinguishers, and the right techniques to use them. Training can also cover essential practices like fire prevention, creating evacuation plans, and understanding the fire triangle (fuel, heat, oxygen, and the chemical reaction), which helps in predicting how fires spread.
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