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Class K Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

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Almost all fires are small in their early stage and can be put out quickly if the proper fire extinguisher is available, and the person discovering the fire has been trained to use the extinguisher.

Most people are familiar with “ABC” extinguishers. These extinguishers have proven to be very effective in extinguishing the fires that they are designed for, that is class A, B, and C fires. However, they are not designed to be used for class K kitchen fires.

Class K fires most often occur where cooking media (fats, greases, and oils) are used. These are most often found in commercial cooking operations.

Class K Extinguishers work on the principle of saponification. Saponification takes place when alkaline mixtures such as potassium acetate, potassium citrate, or potassium carbonate are applied to burning cooking oil of fat. The alkaline mixture combined with the fatty acid create a soapy foam layer on the surface which holds in the vapors and steam and extinguishes the fire.

Recent changes to commercial cooking operations have presented major challenges to dry chemical fire extinguishers and systems. Changes in frying oils from animal fats to vegetable oils have reduced the ability of dry chemicals to extinguish many kitchen fires.

Since vegetable oils have lower fatty acid content, many vegetable oils will prevent the “foam blanket” from developing completely. This inhibits the extinguishing agent by allowing vapors and steam to release.

In addition, newer efficient fryers retain heat much longer than in the past. Vegetable oils have a much higher auto-ignition temperature than animal fats. Therefore, dry chemical agents have trouble preventing a reflash from occurring and cannot pass the current test standards for fryers because of the retained heat. Heat breaks down the weaker foam layer created, making it necessary to cool the oils in addition to the foam layer.

To address these issues, wet chemical agents were introduced and are now required in all new Type I hood fixed fire suppression systems. (ANSUL systems for example). These agents are alkaline by nature and are the only extinguishing agents listed for suppression of fires in commercial cooking because of their ability


If you have a restaurant or kitchen in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Tahoe, Elko, Winnemucca, Susanville, Mammoth Lakes, or surrounding areas, call Fire Extinguisher Service Center today for a free quote.

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