No one expects a fire to happen, but if it does, it’s critical to have the right tools in place to quickly extinguish it.

If your company uses flammable liquids, you should have a Class B fire extinguisher at your facility.
But why a Class B? Won’t a general fire extinguisher that you can pick up online or at a supply store do the trick? Flammable liquids require a particular extinguishing agent. Without a Class B fire extinguisher, you’ll likely find yourself struggling to put out a fire … putting your employees and business at risk.

What Is A Class B Fire Extinguisher?


The National Fire Protection Association classifies fires in five different extinguisher for flammable liquids This classification breaks down common materials found in industrial and manufacturing environments based on what is fueling the fire.

  • Class A fires are fueled by common combustibles like wood and paper.

  • Class B fires are fueled by flammable liquids such as gasoline and gases.

  • Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment such as motors and appliances.

  • Class D fires occur in combustible metals like magnesium and titanium.

  • Class K fires are fueled by cooking oils and greases.

Class B fires can also be fueled by combustible liquids, petroleum greases, tars, oils, oil-based paints, solvents, lacquers, alcohols and flammable gases.

Each type of fire extinguisher will contain different components to fight a fire. For example, a Class A fire extinguisher contains water. However, dry chemicals are far more effective at extinguishing Class B fires than a water extinguisher.

A Class B fire extinguisher for flammable liquids contains foam or powder that cuts off the fire’s oxygen supply. However, this type of fire extinguisher comes in a variety of forms, which we’ll explore below.


Types Of Class B Fire Extinguishers


While Class B fire extinguishers are effective against fires fueled by flammablefire extinguisher for flammable liquids liquids, there are a variety of types available to you. Depending on your specific environment and the substances you regularly work with, one type of fire extinguisher may be more effective than another.
Film-forming foam

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), film-forming foam types are effective on Class B fires. Two types are aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and film-forming fluoroprotein (FFFP). Both discharge a foam material when activated.

However, if your facility is located in a climate where cold temperatures are present or if a particular room in your facility must be kept a temperature below freezing, this type of fire extinguisher is not the best choice. That’s because film-forming foam extinguishers are not suitable in freezing temperatures.

If below-freezing temperatures are not a factor in your decision, this type of extinguisher can be a great choice since it secures the liquid surface and prevents reignition.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide extinguishers can effectively fight Class B fires, however they are not recommended for outdoor use in windy environments since the agent can rapidly dissipate, according to the NFPA.

If your facility has costly equipment, however, a carbon dioxide extinguisher can be a safe choice since the agent does not leave residue that can damage electronics, laboratory equipment and food prep areas.

Workers should only use carbon dioxide fire extinguishers in short ranges typically between 3 feet and 8 feet, according to the NFPA. This is an important consideration to keep in mind since workers can only discharge it typically in small spaces.

Halogenated agents

There are a couple of types of fire extinguishers that deploy halogenated agents that are effective against Class B fires.

A Halon 1211, or bromochlorodifluoromethane, fire extinguisher can be used in cold weather and does not leave residue. While it is considered to be twice as effective as carbon dioxide, the NFPA says that the production of this type of agent has been phased out because of the damage it can cause to the environment.

There are alternative Halon clean agents that do not leave residue and do not have a detrimental effect on the ozone layer. These types of extinguishers are appropriate choices for environments that operate using costly electronic equipment. Popular examples include 3M Novec 1230 and FM-200.

Dry Chemicals

Dry chemical fire extinguishers deploy a powder that consists of small particulates. Two of the most common agents found in ordinary dry chemical fire extinguishers are sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. This type of fire extinguisher includes a special treatment that resists packing and moisture absorption, which can lead to caking.

Another type of dry chemical fire extinguisher has the base agent of ammonium phosphate. This multipurpose agent is used the same way on Class B fires as an ordinary dry chemical extinguisher. However, if your facility is at risk of Class A fires as well, this type of extinguisher is effective against both Class A and B fires.


Where Should Fire Extinguishers Be Located?


Fire extinguishers must be placed where there is any potential for flammablefire extinguisher for flammable liquids liquid fires. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fire extinguishers are placed no more than 50 feet from a Class B hazard area.

The NFPA also has additional recommendations to help ensure worker safety. Facility managers should place Class B fire extinguishers:

  • Along normal paths of travel so that workers evacuating have access to them and do not need to move away from an exit to retrieve an extinguisher

  • Where they are visible to everyone in the facility and away from obstructions

  • As indicated by signs directing workers to the extinguishers, especially if an obstruction is unavoidable

  • At least 4 inches off the ground, but not more than 5 feet above the ground (with the exception of extinguishers weighing more than 40 pounds or wheeled extinguishers, which can be placed lower to the ground)

If an extinguisher is installed on a hanger or bracket inside a cabinet, facility managers should confirm that the brackets are intended to hold the extinguisher so that workers can easily retrieve it.


Prevention Is Key


While Class B fire extinguishers are an important tool to have at your facility infire extinguisher for flammable liquids the event a fire fueled by flammable liquids occurs, prevention is key to ensuring an emergency does not happen in the first place.

Under state and federal law, facilities must label hazardous waste properly. This includes flammable liquids. Labels should include information such as:

  • The start date of accumulation

  • Type of liquid

  • A Hazard Class 3 flammable logo

  • Your company’s information including contact information

When storing flammable liquids, never block stairwells or exits with containers. Instead, store them in a safe, secure location such as a fire-proof storage cabinet.

Workers should never dispose of flammable liquids by pouring them down the drain or disposing of them in containers. The safest way to dispose of flammable liquids is to work with a waste management company that will promptly remove the chemicals from your property and transport them to the appropriate treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF).

If your waste includes solvents, one of the most effective and safe ways to dispose of your waste is to send it to a hazardous waste recycling facility. At Temarry Recycling, solvent distillation is one component of a Closed Loop Recycling system that ensures nothing is wasted.

This full-circle approach combines solvent distillation with a waste to energy process and water treatment process that keeps materials at their highest value. Here is how the process works:

  • The waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam that is used as energy on-site.

  • The solvent distillation process uses the steam from the waste to energy process as energy to power the solvent recovery stills. Spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.

  • The water treatment process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes. This treated water is used on-site for industrial needs, including in the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.

Companies located on the West Coast can save transportation costs and reduce their carbon footprint due to lower fuel usage since Temarry’s state-of-the-art recycling facility is located just across the U.S.-Mexico border.

If your company works with flammable liquids, properly managing this hazardous waste includes having preventative and reactive measures in place to keep your employees safe. You can read more about why the disposal of spent solvents is an important component of workplace safety and the impact it can have on the environment in our article, Top Zero Waste Solutions For Your Industrial Solvents.


Are you Recycling or Fuel Blending

Larry Burton

Larry Burton

Larry Burton has over 25 years of experience in the hazardous waste and chemical industries. He has worked for several major corporations, including Honeywell, and can speak on a variety of industry-related topics. He has specialized knowledge in Circular Economy, Solvent Distillation, Closed Loop Recycling Technology, Waste to Energy, and the H061 Paradigm. Larry has extensive knowledge of the latest technologies that allow businesses to explore real-world sustainable solutions. These solutions will help reduce their carbon footprint and improve their profitability. Larry is currently the CEO of Temarry Recycling.

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