ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Fires are classified into 5 categories:
A. Carbonaceous - wood, paper, linen, etc
B. Liquid - oil, petrol, solvents, etc
C. Flammable gases
D. Flammable metals - aluminium, etc
E. Electrical

NOTE: any type of fire can involve electrical equipment.

Class A fires require a water type fire extinguisher.
Class B fires require a foam type fire extinguisher.
Class C and D fires require assistance from the fire brigade.
Class E fires require a carbon dioxide or dry chemical type fire extinguisher.
NOTE: Water or foam fire extinguishers should NEVER be used where there is live electrical equipment.

Fire extinguishers should receive at least one annual safety check.

1. Bretherick L. Hazards in the chemical laboratory, 4th edition. Royal Chemical Society, London 1986
2. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Safety Manual.


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