If a small fire breaks out and you need to contain it, you simply grab any extinguisher that is nearby and use it right? Actually no, because fires come from a wide variety of different sources and many need a unique type of extinguisher to put out the flame. Most fires that are classified as A, B, or C fires can be extinguished with one type of extinguisher. Those types are separated according to the type of fuel they burn. A type fires are burning wood, paper, trash, or certain types of plastic and rubber. B fires are comprised of liquids such as oil, tar, grease, a solvent, or paint. C class fires are sourced by something electrical, such as a frayed power cable or a faulty electrical outlet.
Should a fire occur, quickly look to see the class label on the extinguisher. If it is one that covers ABC fires, such as a 5lb Buckeye ABC fire extinguisher, you can safely put out the fire.
Two other classes of fire are less common but still dangerous. Class D fires involve burning metals such as magnesium, sodium, or potassium. Factories often stock the extinguishers needed for these fires. Class K fires are burning liquids used for cooking such as vegetable oils, animal oils, and different types of fats.