Fires are classified in five different ways, according to the National Fire Protection Association. How they are classified depends 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 like propane.
- 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.
It is critical in your work environment to understand how these classifications differ because each type of fire requires a different approach to fighting it. Class B fires include flammable liquids, which are considered hazardous waste.
Below we’ll explore what types of flammable liquids and gases fall under Class B, as well as what precautions need to be taken to deal with these dangerous liquids in your workplace.
What Class B Includes
Class B fires involve common flammable liquids like gasoline, oils, solvents, alcohols, petroleum greases and oil-based paints. Some flammable gases, like propane and butane, also fall under the Class B fires classification.
It is important to note that cooking oils and grease do not fall under Class B fires, even though oils and grease are in liquid form. These instead fall under Class K since they require a different individual or combination of extinguishing agents.
If your company stores solvents, oil-based paints, gasoline or any of the liquids mentioned above, you may be at a greater risk for a Class B fire occurring.
Extinguishing Class B Fires
As mentioned above, each class requires its own method for extinguishing a fire. While Class A simply requires water, for example, using water on a Class B is generally ineffective.
Dry chemicals are far more effective at extinguishing Class B fires. Companies that store or utilize liquid or gas agents like the ones outlined above should have special equipment on hand to fight a Class B fire should one occur.
For example, rather than a water extinguisher, it is critical to have a dry chemical (foam or dry powder) or carbon dioxide extinguisher, according to the Fire Equipment Manufacturer’s Association. This specific type of extinguisher cuts off the fire’s oxygen supply.
Storing Class B Agents Properly
Under state and federal law, hazardous waste must be properly labeled. Not doing so can lead to costly fines and disastrous consequences should a spill occur. Therefore, the proper storage of flammable liquids that can cause Class B fires is legally required and paramount to the safety of employees.
The following precautions should take place:
- Never block stairwells or exits with containers filled with flammable liquids. They should instead be stored in a safe, secure location away from ignition sources.
- Check local regulations for safe storage, since many require a fire-proof storage cabinet.
- Do not dispose of flammable liquids improperly, such as by pouring them down the drain or throwing them away in containers.
- Use the appropriate types of containers to store flammable liquids, as listed by your regulatory body.
Containers should be properly labeled as well, especially hazardous waste solvents. Labels should include information like:
- The start date of accumulation
- The type of liquid
- The Hazard Class 3 flammable logo
- Your company’s information, including contact information
Additional information that should be included can be determined by contacting your local or state authorities. Be sure to label the container as soon as the waste is placed inside.
Proper Disposal Of Class B Agents
The safest way to dispose of flammable liquids is to place them in the correct containers, label those containers and work with a waste management company for removal.
Where these flammable liquids are sent also plays an important role in your company’s disposal process. Partnering with a hazardous waste recycling facility can offer an effective and safe way to dispose of your waste, especially if your waste includes solvents.
At Temarry Recycling, solvent distillation is one component of a Closed Loop Recycling system that ensures nothing is wasted. This full-circle system combines solvent distillation with a waste to energy process and water treatment process.
Here’s how the process works:
- The waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam to be 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 the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
Combined, these processes keep materials at their highest utility and value always. They also return solvents back to industry, which reduces hazardous waste disposal.
Our article, 7 Facts You Need To Consider In The Disposal Of Flammable Liquids, provides more information about precautions that you should take in disposing of flammable liquids. It will also help you ensure that all regulations are being followed and the safety of your employees is held to the highest degree of importance.