ODPEM Government of Jamaica
Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
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Disasters Do Happen
Learn More About Fires


Types of Fires

There are four categories of fires:

  1. Class A fires: These fires are ordinary materials like burning paper, lumber, cardboard, plastics.
  1. Class B fires: These fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene and common organic solvents used in laboratories.
  1. Class C fires: Theses fires involve energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel boxes, power tools, hot plates. Water is particularly dangerous extinguishing medium for class c fires because of the risk of electrical shock.
  1. Class D fires: These involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium potassium and sodium (these are more likely to be found in labs). These materials burn at high temperatures and react violently with water, air, and /or other chemicals.

Some fires may be a combination of all of the above!

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Common Fire Hazards in the Home

It is a fact that seven out of 10 fires occur in the home. Therefore you should check the rooms of your home and make it safe for your family. A tidy house seldom burns.


  1. Remove pans or bottles of cooking fats and oils from the stove when not in use. It's easy to turn on the wrong burner.
  1. Unplug electric kettles, frying pans and other appliances when not in use.
  1. Do not hang clothes above the stove to dry.
  1. Keep matches out of the reach of children.
  1. Have an approved fire extinguisher handy for grease fires.

Living Room

  1. Do not use extension cords in place of permanent wiring.
  1. Provide sufficient electrical outlets for your needs.
  1. Provide deep substantial ashtrays for smokers and ensure that the contents are placed in a metal container or toilet each evening before retiring.


Never smoke in bed. Many people are killed in fires because the bedding catches fire from a cigarette in the hands of a sleepy person.

Matches and Careless Smoking Habits

Careless discarding of lighted matches and smoking materials is responsible for about twenty percent of all fires from known causes. A burning match, tobacco debris or a cigarette carelessly left burning may start a catastrophic fire taking heavy toll of lives and property. Remember, one little thoughtless act may take your home or even your life!

Here are a few common sense precautions:

  1. Keep all matches away from children.
  1. Have ashtrays in all rooms.
  1. Be sure your lighted matches or smokes are completely out before you discard them.
  1. Do not strike matches in closets, garages, or other places where flammable materials, dust or vapours may be ignited.

Faulty Electrical Wiring and Appliances

More than one in ten fires of known causes are of electrical origin. Circuits are designed to carry certain loads, however, the blowing of a fuse is a danger signal that the circuit is overloaded or defective.

Here are a few common sense precautions:

  1. Employ a skilled electrician to repair wiring when necessary.
  1. Buy electrical appliances bearing a recognized seal of approval.
  1. Do not string wires under rugs, over hooks or in any exposed place. Worn out wires may make them dangerous.

Cooking Stoves

Improper care and unsafe use of stoves - electrical, coal, gas or oil – often cause fires. Protect walls and ceilings near stoves with insulating material to reduce the risk of fires

Kerosene and Carelessness

Many fires are caused by careless use of kerosene, gasoline or other flammable fluids, and by carelessness in handling candles, open lights, lamps, open gas jets, torches, etc. Pouring kerosene on wood or coal fires is extremely dangerous. You can never be safe using flammable, explosive fluids in your house, or in filling kerosene or gasoline stoves or lamps while they are lighted. If your clothing catches fire do not run. Running fans the flames and increases them. Lie, down on the floor and roll if you can. Don't wear fuzzy, filmy, flammable clothing around a stove or range.


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Related Resources:


Jamaica Fire Brigade





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