The classification of fire is an essential aspect of fire safety measures in any country. India has its own set of standards for classifying fires based on the type of fuel involved and the extinguishing agents used. Understanding the Indian standard for fire classification is essential for fire safety professionals, building owners, and individuals concerned about fire safety planning and prevention.

Understanding Fire Classification in India

Fire is a chemical reaction that occurs when heat, fuel, and oxygen are present in the right proportions. It is a rapid oxidation process that releases energy in the form of heat and light. Fire can be classified into different types based on the nature of the fuel and the intensity of the flames.

In India, fire safety standards are regulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The Indian Standard IS 15683:2018 by BIS has classified fires into the following classes based on the materials or substances involved. To ensure safety, each class requires its own extinguishing mechanism. These classes are:

Class A: Fires involving Ordinary Combustibles

· Materials: Wood, paper, cloth, and plastics

· Extinguishing Agents used: Water or water-based extinguishing

· Extinguishing Method: Cools the fire and eliminates heat from it.

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Class B: Fires involving flammable liquids

· Materials: oil, kerosene, gasoline, solvents.

· Extinguishing Agents used: Foam or powder extinguishing agents

· Extinguishing Method: Suffocates flames and prevents combustible vapours from being released.

Class C: Fires involving flammable gases

· Materials: Natural gas, propane, hydrogen.

· Extinguishing Agents used: Extinguishers that use dry powder or gas

· Extinguishing Method: Halts the chemical reaction that helps maintain the fire

Class D: Fires involving combustible metals

· Materials: Magnesium, titanium, lithium

· Extinguishing Agents used: Extinguishing agents that use dry powder

· Extinguishing Method: Forms an outer layer over the metal, preventing it from receiving oxygen.

It is important to understand the different classes of fire as each requires a different type of extinguisher for effective suppression. Using the wrong type of extinguisher can make the fire worse.

In addition to the classification of fire, it is also important to understand the stages of fire. There are three stages of fire:

  • Incipient Stage: This is the initial stage of a fire where the flames are small and can be easily extinguished with a fire extinguisher or water.
  • Growth Stage: In this stage, the fire has grown beyond the incipient stage and is spreading rapidly. It requires a larger amount of water or foam to extinguish.
  • Fully Developed Stage: In this stage, the fire has reached its maximum intensity and is spreading rapidly. It requires a significant amount of water or foam to extinguish.

Fire Extinguishers for Different Fire Classes

Fire extinguishers are designed to combat different types of fires. The classification of fire as per Indian standard divides fires into four classes: Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D. Each class requires a specific type of fire extinguisher to put out the fire effectively.

Class A Fire Extinguishers

Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, and plastics. Water-based fire extinguishers are the best choice for Class A fires. These extinguishers can cool down the fire and extinguish it by removing the heat.

Class B Fire Extinguishers

Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel, and oil. Foam-based fire extinguishers are the best choice for Class B fires. These extinguishers form a blanket over the fuel, cutting off the oxygen supply and extinguishing the fire.

Class C Fire Extinguishers

Class C fires involve electrical equipment such as computers, TVs, and electrical sockets. Carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers are the best choice for Class C fires. These extinguishers displace the oxygen around the fire, suffocating it and extinguishing the flames.

Class D Fire Extinguishers

Class D fires involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, and sodium. Specialized Class D fire extinguishers are required to tackle these fires. These extinguishers use powders or salts that react with the metal and extinguish the fire.

It is essential to have the correct type of fire extinguisher available in case of a fire emergency. It is also crucial to ensure that the extinguisher is appropriately maintained and serviced regularly to ensure that it is in good working condition.

Safety Measures and Precautions

When it comes to fire safety, prevention is the key. The Indian Standard for classification of fire provides guidelines for identifying the type of fire and the appropriate extinguishing agent to be used. However, it's important to take safety measures and precautions to avoid fires altogether.

One of the most important safety measures is to have a fire safety plan in place. This plan should include emergency exits, evacuation procedures, and designated meeting points for employees or occupants. Regular fire drills should also be conducted to ensure that everyone is familiar with the plan and knows what to do in case of a fire.

Another important precaution is to ensure that all electrical equipment and wiring are properly installed and maintained. Faulty wiring or equipment can easily spark a fire, so it's important to have them inspected regularly by a qualified electrician.

It's also important to keep flammable materials away from potential sources of ignition. This includes storing flammable liquids in approved containers and keeping them away from heat sources. Smoking should also be prohibited in areas where flammable materials are present.

In addition, fire extinguishers should be readily available and easily accessible. They should be inspected and maintained regularly to ensure that they are in good working condition. It's important to know which type of extinguisher should be used for each type of fire, as using the wrong type can make the fire worse.

Overall, taking safety measures and precautions can greatly reduce the risk of fires. By following the guidelines provided by the Indian Standard for classification of fire and implementing a fire safety plan, individuals and businesses can help prevent fires and keep everyone safe.


In conclusion, the Indian standard for the classification of fire is a comprehensive system that considers various factors such as the nature of the fuel, the intensity of the fire, and the potential risk to life and property. The Indian standard for fire classification provides a useful framework for fire safety management in a wide range of settings, including industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. By classifying fires into different categories, the system helps to identify the appropriate type of fire extinguisher or suppression system that should be used to control the fire.

Overall, the Indian standard for the classification of fire is a valuable resource for anyone involved in fire safety management. By following the guidelines set out in the standard, it is possible to minimize the risk of fires and to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect life and property in the event of a fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the different classes of fires as per Indian standards?

As per Indian standards, fires are classified into four classes - A, B, C, and D. Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, and cloth. Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gases. Class C fires involve electrical equipment. Class D fires involve combustible metals.

2. What are the rules and regulations for fire extinguishers in India?

As per the National Building Code of India (NBC), fire extinguishers are mandatory in all buildings, and the number and type of extinguishers required depend on the size and occupancy of the building. The NBC also specifies the installation and maintenance requirements for fire extinguishers.

3. What is the Indian Standard Code 15683 for fire extinguishers?

The Indian Standard Code 15683 specifies the requirements for the design, construction, and performance of fire extinguishers in India. It also provides guidelines for the testing and certification of fire extinguishers.

4. What is the lifespan of fire extinguishers as per IS 2190?

As per IS 2190, the lifespan of fire extinguishers in India is 10 years from the date of manufacture. After 10 years, fire extinguishers must be replaced or hydrostatically tested and recertified.

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