Is Water the Best Way to Extinguish a Fire?
Most people think that the best way to put out a fire is with water. However, using water on certain types of fires can actually make them even more dangerous and will maximize the amount of fire damage.
When Water is Recommended
Water can be used effectively, but not for every fire. Class A fires are the most common and easiest to put out. They are made up of solid combustible materials like paper, wood, and plastic. With Class A fires, you want to remove the fire's heat supply. Water is an effective way to do that and is recommended in this instance.
When to Avoid Using Water
Other than Class A, it's usually best to avoid using water to extinguish a fire. For example, Class C and K fires. Class C fires involve electrical equipment and are common in commercial buildings but can happen in residential buildings as well. The first thing to do is to cut off the power source from the appliance if it is safe to do so. A carbon dioxide or dry powder extinguisher will do well to help put out the fire. If you are able to disconnect the power source, this fire can become a Class A fire. However, it is best to avoid using water as it can conduct electricity and put you at even more risk.
Class K fires usually involve cooking oils. These are typically common in commercial or residential kitchens. In a commercial kitchen, there will most likely be a wet chemical extinguisher that should be used in the event of a Class K fire. However, if you are cooking at home you may not have access to one. In that case, cover the fire immediately with a lid or cookie sheet. Do not use water on Class K fires. It can cause hot grease or oil to splash on you.
When in Doubt, Get Out!
If you aren't sure what the best way to extinguish the fire is or the flames are getting out of control, evacuate the building immediately and call 911! It can take just 30 seconds for a small flame to grow into a deadly fire. Once the fire is put out, call your local SERVPRO professionals to repair the damage. SERVPRO has the knowledge and equipment to restore the damage done by each type of fire. We will be there within one hour of your call and will make it like it never even happened.