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Classification of Fire as per Indian Standard

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 16/04/2024
  • 2 min read

Fire safety is crucial for everyone. In India, fires are classified according to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to ensure proper firefighting techniques and extinguisher selection.

This classification system empowers you to fight fires effectively and prioritise safety. By understanding the various fire classes, you will be better equipped to respond calmly in an emergency. Also, if you are looking for fire insurance for your property, understanding the classification of fire is prudent.

In this guide, we shall understand the classification of fire according to Indian standards and learn how to identify them.

Understanding the Different Classifications of Fire in India

Fire, a rapid chemical reaction fuelled by heat, oxygen, and combustible materials, occurs in many forms. In India, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) classifies fires based on the burning materials (IS 15683:**2018). Knowing this classification of fire as per the Indian Standard Bureau is critical for choosing the right extinguisher and effectively combating different fire types.

Let us explore these fire classes and the best ways to extinguish them:**

** Class A Fire:** This type of fire involves common combustible materials like wood, paper, cloth, and plastics. Class A fires typically leave behind ash after burning.

** Class B Fire:** These fires involve flammable liquids or gases like gasoline, oil, grease, or paint. Unlike Class A fires, Class B fires do not leave ash behind. Instead, they usually produce thick, black smoke.

** Class C Fire:** Class C is the electrical fire classification. These fires involve energised electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers, and outlets. Because of the risk of electrical shock, water-based extinguishers should not be used on Class C fires. Instead, special extinguishers that do not conduct electricity are used.

** Class D Fire:** This is the metal fire classification and it involves combustible metals like magnesium, titanium, sodium, and potassium. It can be very dangerous and requires specialised extinguishing agents designed for these metals.

Each class of fire in India requires different methods for extinguishing it safely. It is important to identify the type of fire correctly before attempting to put it out to ensure the most effective and safe extinguishing method is used.

** Class A Fire:**

  • Extinguish with water, foam, or a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher.

  • Aim the extinguishing agent at the base of the fire and sweep from side to side.

** Class B Fire:**

  • Smother the fire with a fire blanket or use a dry chemical or carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguisher.

  • Avoid using water on Class B fires as it can spread the flames.

** Class C Fire:**

  • First, de-energise the electrical equipment, if possible, by turning off the power.

  • Use a non-conductive extinguishing agent like carbon dioxide (CO2) or dry chemical extinguisher.

  • Never use water on Class C fires due to the risk of electrical shock.

** Class D Fire:**

  • Use a special dry powder extinguishing agent specifically designed for the type of metal involved.

  • Apply the extinguishing agent from a safe distance and avoid direct contact with the burning metal.

** Also Read:** Fire Insurance:** Types, Coverage, and More!

Different Stages of Fire

Understanding the stages of fire is crucial to fire safety. Also, this knowledge will help you pick a fire insurance policy better. There are three main stages:

Incipient Stage: At this stage, the fire is just beginning. The flames are small and localised. Because they have not spread widely yet, they are relatively easy to put out with a fire extinguisher or water.

Growth Stage: As the fire progresses, it enters the growth stage. Here, the flames are getting bigger and spreading rapidly. Compared to the incipient stage, the growth stage requires more water or foam to extinguish as the fire has gained momentum and is expanding.

Fully Developed Stage: This is the most intense stage of a fire. The flames are at their peak and spreading quickly. Effectively putting out the fire requires a significant amount of water or foam. This stage poses the greatest risk as the fire is powerful and can cause extensive damage if not controlled promptly.

A Few Essential Safety Tips & Precautions to Follow During Fire

  • Even when you have the right fire & burglary insurance in place, you need to be aware of the preventive measures to ensure your safety. Ensuring safety from fires involves preventive measures and careful planning. The Indian Standard provides guidance on classifying fires and choosing the right extinguishing agents. However, preventing fires is paramount.

  • Firstly, having a fire safety plan is crucial. This plan should outline emergency exits, evacuation routes, and meeting points. Regular fire drills ensure everyone understands what to do during a fire emergency.

  • Another vital precaution is maintaining electrical systems properly. Faulty wiring or equipment can cause fires, so qualified electricians must perform regular inspections.

  • It is also important to keep flammable materials away from potential ignition sources. Flammable liquids should be stored in approved containers and kept away from heat. Smoking should be prohibited in areas with flammable materials.

  • Accessible fire extinguishers are essential. They should undergo regular maintenance and inspection to ensure functionality. Knowing which type of extinguisher to use for each fire type is crucial to prevent the worsening of the situation.

Also Read: Perils of Standard Fire Policy

How to Select the Right Fire Extinguisher?

Selecting the right fire extinguisher involves accurately identifying potential fire risks. Multiple extinguishers or multipurpose ones may often be necessary.

For instance, a Class A fire extinguisher in a commercial office building suffices for common combustible fires.

However, a Class C extinguisher might also be needed if there are electronics or a server room. Aligning extinguisher types with specific fire hazards in your workplace is essential. This could mean opting for several extinguishers tailored to different classes of fires or choosing multipurpose ones.

If you are unsure about the required extinguishers, consult a professional. Different industries have diverse standards and needs. While an office may need a certain type of extinguisher, a commercial kitchen may necessitate more specialised fire protection measures.

Conclusion

The Indian standard for fire classification is a detailed system that considers factors like fuel type, fire intensity, and potential risks to people and property. This classification framework is vital for managing fire safety across various settings, from industries to homes. By categorising fires, it helps determine the right fire extinguishers or suppression systems needed to combat them effectively.

This classification of fire serves as a crucial tool for anyone involved in fire safety management. Adhering to its guidelines minimises fire risks and ensures the adoption of suitable measures to safeguard lives and properties during fire incidents.

Ensuring adequate coverage for unforeseen events such as fires often involves working closely with trusted insurance providers like Tata AIG. We offer SME insurance tailored to your business’s specific needs that ensure adequate coverage to minimise risks.

FAQS

Why are fires classified in India?

Fires are classified to ensure firefighters and individuals use the most effective extinguishing methods. Different fire types require different approaches to stop the flames safely.

How can I identify the class of a fire?

Look at the burning material. Is it a solid material like wood (Class A)? Is it a liquid like gasoline (Class B)? Is it electrical equipment (Class C)? If it is metal burning, it is likely Class D. Remember, if you are unsure, prioritise safety and evacuate the area.

What type of fire extinguisher should I use for each class?

Class A: Regular fire extinguisher or water.

Class B: Special fire extinguisher designed for smothering flames.

Class C: Electrical fire extinguishers, which are rated for electrical fires.

Class D: Special fire extinguisher powder for cooling metals.

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