The type of fuel that feeds each type of fire, classifies them. The classification of fire is very important for deciding which extinguishing agent can be used to put a fire out. Commercial kitchens are mostly prone to class K fires. These are the wildest fires that are very difficult to control. A special type of extinguisher is required to control these fires.
In this article, we have described class K fires and the type of fire extinguisher which is used for class K fires.
What are Class K Fires?
Flammable liquids used in cooking mostly fuel class K fires. These liquids can be animal or plant-based greases or cooking oils. For instance, in the kitchen, when the temperature of these liquids rises, a dangerous fire can flare up suddenly. Moreover, due to the high flammability of these liquids, fire can spread quickly. In commercial kitchens, large-scale cooking occurs for example, in restaurants, catering areas, cafeterias, bakeries, and other related areas. Mostly these places are prone to class K fire which is a constant threat at such places. So to ensure the safety of people working in these kitchens, the right type of extinguisher should be in place to combat class K fires. Class K extinguisher is the one that is specifically designed for fires fueled by flammable liquids mostly used in cooking.
What Types of Extinguishers Are Rated as Class K Fire Extinguishers?
As class K fire extinguishers are typically made to handle fires caused by flammable liquids. On the contrary, class B extinguishers cannot handle the fires occurring due to greases and high-temperature oils. It is very important to keep in mind that the cooking oil and grease fire will spread further if water is thrown at the fire. The reason is that water is transported by the oil, instead of oil being absorbed in the water. Therefore, water should not be used on the oil fires in any case. In other words, class K fire extinguishers, are the only type of fire extinguishers that can be used to control the class K fires. So, well-maintained class K fire extinguishers are very important for a commercial kitchen.
The extinguishing agents in these fire extinguishers dissociate oxygen from the fuel as well as absorb the heat of the fire. The fire extinguisher rated as most efficient nowadays is the Wet Chemical fire extinguisher. There is a wet mist in these extinguishers which contains alkaline ingredients like potassium carbonate, potassium citrate, or potassium acetate. This mist creates a foam by interacting with the cooking oil which covers the oil, cools it, and prevents it from mixing with oxygen. These extinguishers control and extinguish these fires simultaneously decreasing the re-ignition risk.
Wet chemical extinguishers are developed recently. Since vegetable oil, having a higher risk of auto-ignition is being used more than animal fat dry fire extinguishers have become ineffective. Furthermore, the newly developed efficiency fryers withhold heat for a longer duration and have a higher re-ignition risk. All these factors require an efficient fire extinguishing agent. Class K fire extinguishers are effective not only against class K fires but also for class A fires which can be ignited in the kitchen as a result of the class K fires.
To sum up, unlike other extinguishers, the class K fire extinguisher is also capable of handling class A fires in addition to class K fires. Other extinguishers cannot control a fire caused by cooking liquids even if they can extinguish several classes of fire.
In case if an area catches fire, first use a kitchen hood fire suppression system. After this, a class K extinguisher can be used to control the associated fires.
Do You Have the Right Fire Extinguisher?
There must be the right type of fire extinguisher in the workplace or in the kitchen. The risk of damage and destruction is increased if a wrong type of extinguisher is used. Therefore, the fire extinguisher should be selected according to the specific setting of the workplace. The class K fire extinguisher should be easily accessible. The fire-prone areas should hire a safety technician to install a fire suppression system properly. The professional safety technician will ensure that the system is properly installed and maintained.
It is crucial to train the workers on fire safety including how to react in a fire emergency, how to identify the right type of fire extinguisher according to the situation, implementing an emergency plan and how to use fire extinguishers correctly. There should be an educational training program to educate the employees working in these areas. It is beneficial to conduct this training program every year.
Installation of a Class K Fire Extinguisher
As you know that the class K fires expand rapidly, it is very important to have portable class K fire extinguishers at a distance of thirty feet from the cooking area where flammable liquids are used.
The fire extinguisher should be installed in such a place that is clearly visible and should have instructions written on it. In addition to this, they should be in good working condition. Employers should be taught not to hang anything on the fire extinguishers.
Inspection of class K fire extinguisher
When they are properly installed, they should undergo monthly inspection. Employers must ensure the maintenance, testing, and inspection of a fire extinguisher. Maintenance is recommended once a year or more as required. Furthermore, the maintenance date and records should be saved. The following things are noted while inspecting fire extinguishers
- Fire extinguishers should be at a proper place.
- Fire extinguishers should be clearly visible to the workers.
- There should be adequate pressure according to the pressure gauges.
- Seals and pins should be properly placed.
- There should be no signs of damage to the fire extinguisher.
- The nozzles should not be blocked by anything.
If fire extinguishers are correctly used, they can be a very important way to stop the damage caused by major fires. This can also decrease the number of injuries to the workers, deaths and the financial loss.