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Fighting burning metal fires with the correct Class D Fire Extinguisher
When aluminium and magnesium and a number of other alkali earth metals get machined, the swarf from the cutting operation is highly flammable. It also burns at an extremely high temperature and cannot be extinguished by ordinary powder, CO2 or water-based extinguishers. Burning magnesium, for example, reacts violently with water!
To fight these fires sand can be used but will not be very effective and the moisture contained could be dangerous.
A specialist category of fire extinguisher was therefore developed, called Class D dry chemical fire extinguishers. These fire extinguishers are dedicated to the fighting of metal fires and usually come with a long, low-velocity applicator lance to be able to carefully layer the chemical on top of the fire without disturbing it.
The powder used in these Class D metal fire extinguishers forms a crust on the surface and excludes oxygen to stop the chemical reaction of the fire.
Reviewed: 01/02/2020 (doc:502 V1.0). Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. Please note that we provide abridged, easy-to-understand guidance. To make detailed decisions about your fire safety provisions, you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.