Demystifying Class C Fires: Your Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Managing Gas Fire Hazards

In the world of fire safety, knowledge is power. Understanding the various classes of fires is essential for effective prevention and response strategies. Among these classifications, Class C fires can involve highly explosive materials and must be managed appropriately to minimise the risks. Hence, learning all you can about how to prevent and manage a Class C fire is vital. Join us as we identify the common sources of ignition and the recommended interventions for Class C fires.

What is a Class C Fire?

A Class C fire is identified as the burning of flammable gases, which can be highly explosive and dangerous if ignited. Combustible gases such as butane, propane and methane form the fuel aspect of the fire triangle, which is essential for a fire to start, spread and continue to burn.

Class C fires occur most frequently in environments that store and use significant combustible gases, such as industrial warehouses and chemical plants. Natural gas fires, which you use to heat your home and cook food, are also flammable, meaning homes, hospitals, and schools can also be at risk.

Flammable gases must be maintained, installed and stored correctly to avoid unforeseen fire outbreaks. Similarly to Class B, these fires are rarely used as a controlled fire method; instead, they are involved in accidental or arson-related fire attacks. As flammable gases are heavier than air, they can travel significantly to an ignition source, meaning a fire can spread rapidly and uncontrollably. The speed at which this fire spreads can cause explosions, leading to devastating effects.

Preventing a Class C Fire

Class C fires are often one of the most difficult to extinguish, as a fire extinguisher is unlikely to put out all the flames of a gas fire. This makes it crucial to try and prevent a Class C fire as best as possible.

Appropriate Storage

Class C fires can be prevented by storing flammable gases in compliant containers, such as gas bottle storage cages. These clearly labelled storage units are the best way to store flammable gases. It is vital to store only a few combustible gases in a unit, as storing many gas canisters in one location can result in a highly explosive fire outbreak. Gas canisters must also be kept away from possible ignition sources, and flames, sparks, or burning embers should not be located near the equipment.

Inspect Gas Canisters

If your gas supply is stored in gas canisters, it is crucial to conduct regular checks for any signs of wear and tear. If there are any signs of rust or dent, your canister may be at risk of leaking, so it is essential to dispose of it appropriately.

To check if your canister is leaking, avoid using an open flame. This type of ignition will trigger a more significant and dangerous fire. Instead, use soap mixed with water and place it near the area you suspect is leaking. If bubbles start to appear, this indicates you have a gas leak, and it becomes essential to switch off your gas supply.

Fire Risk Assessment

Each building must legally appoint a responsible person per the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This responsible person has the legal duty to protect occupants and property from the fire threat.

The order highlights the responsibility of conducting and regularly updating fire risk assessments, reducing fire risk, and installing fire safety equipment such as fire alarms, doors, and extinguishers.

Most commercial and residential properties should receive a fire risk assessment every six months to ensure that the fire safety equipment is appropriately installed and in good working condition. This will protect the occupants and the building from the detrimental effects a Class C fire can cause.

How to Tackle a Class C Fire

If a fire outbreak occurs, you should turn off the gas supply if possible to reduce the risk of explosions. Only dry powder fire extinguishers can safely extinguish Class C fires. Using a different type of extinguisher, such as carbon dioxide or wet chemical extinguishers, is hazardous for flammable gas fires.

Dry powder fire extinguishers cool the flames until there is no longer enough heat to keep them burning. The dry powder within the extinguisher acts as a suppressing agent, smothering the oxygen within the fire and stopping embers from spreading.

Gas Fire Hazards FAQs

What category of fire does flammable gas come under?

Fires involving flammable gases are classified as Class C fires. Flammable gases form an explosive mixture when mixed with air, leading to a fire hazard.

What is the difference between a Class B and Class C fire?

Both Class B and C fires are hazardous, but they originate from different sources. Class B fires burn flammable liquids such as alcohol, oil, and petrol. These liquids have lower ignition temperatures than others, meaning once they are heated to extreme temperatures, you are at risk of a fire outbreak. On the other hand, Class C fires burn flammable gases, including propane, butane, and methane. If ignited, these gases are extremely dangerous and highly explosive.

Manage Class C Fire Hazards with Fire & Safety Centre

Class C fires can be easily prevented with the correct handling and storage procedures. With adequate storage and handling training, the risk of a Class C fire outbreak can be significantly reduced. At Fire and Safety Centre, fire prevention is at the heart of our business. We are dedicated to helping you store and appropriately manage your flammable gases securely.

Dive into our product range, which includes dry powder extinguishers and gas storage cabinets. It enables you to safely manage and handle Class C fire hazards. Contact our team today to discuss your fire safety requirements.

Related Articles