How to Handle Class D Fires

March 21, 2020 12:48 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Fires are classified by what feeds them. Depending on the fuel, there are different ways to extinguish them, and your choice of extinguisher will not just determine its effectiveness—it will also determine safety. If you run a busy metal fabrication shop, it is important to enact a fire safety program and have the right extinguishers at hand in case your workers face a metal fire. Start with learning why it’s important to know the classes of fires and how to extinguish them. This is why every shop in Longview, TX needs Class D fire extinguishers.

What is a Class D fire?

A Class D fire results from burning metals. Despite common perceptions, there are flammable metals, including sodium, potassium, uranium, lithium, plutonium and calcium. The most common Class D fires involve titanium and magnesium. Fabrication shops, laboratories, factories and warehouses are the most vulnerable to Class D fires.

It takes extreme heat to ignite metal, which makes this type of fire less common. However, when they do occur, they are quite serious. Class D fires spread quickly once ignited. If the igniting metal is sodium, there can be explosions when the fire comes in contact with air or water. This only adds to a hazard that many would prefer to avoid.

Masses of metals are unlikely to combust, but do not assume that your large-item manufacturing outfit is immune from Class D fires. Most fires arise from “fines,” making the shavings much more dangerous than the pieces being fabricated. Any place where metal is drilled, cut or milled is at risk of a fire. Shops that process aluminum and contain aluminum dust are more at risk of Class D fires.

How to extinguish a Class D fire

As indicated above, using water will make a Class D fire worse. While this may be your first instinct, keep fire extinguishers accessible so no one is tempted to do this in a moment of panic. Otherwise, you will end up with a bigger problem on your hands. The main element in the damage caused by this fire is ignorance. Unlike kitchen fires, these do not occur frequently, and that makes it difficult for people to make prudent decisions.

Class D fire extinguishers use dry powder. This smothers the fire and the oxygen it feeds upon. It also absorbs the heat so the fire cannot cause further damage. The powder prevents spread as well, which is essential when your shop environment contains metal shavings or dust.

You can prevent Class D fires by keeping combustible metals in secured fireproof containers. That way they do not ignite via welding equipment used nearby. Most fires occur during the fabrication process so it is important to have a comprehensive fire safety program and perform fire safety checks.

Anchor Safety Inc. is here to help with Class D fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems in Longview, TX. If you require assistance with controlling metal fires, contact us today to see what we can do to help you create a safer workplace.

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