What are the different types of fire extinguishers?
When a fire emergency occurs, reading the instructions of a fire extinguisher to find out if you can use it to fight the flames, will waste time and could potentially make damages worse.
That’s why you want to able to immediately distinguish whether the extinguisher is fit for purpose.
What are the different classes of fires?
There are many different types of fire extinguishers to fight fires of various classes. Depending on the materials involved, the right substance needs to be used to extinguish the fire.
Here are the classes you should be aware of:
- Class A – Fires that involve solid or organic materials, such as wood, plastics, paper, textiles, or coal.
- Class B – Flammable liquids, including gasoline, paint, or diesel.
- Class C – Flammable gases, including propane, butane, or methane.
- Class D – Fires that involve combustible metals, for example magnesium, potassium, or aluminium.
- Class F – Cooking oils, including vegetable oil, sunflower oil, olive oil or fats such as lard and butter.
The five main types of fire extinguishers
Each fire extinguisher contains different materials that make them suitable for fighting certain types of fires. The different types are individually colour coded, named and have identifiable hoses, in order for someone to distinguish the right one.
Take a look at each type of fire extinguisher, its risks and how its used.
A traditional water fire extinguisher dispenses high pressured water to eliminate flames. Only suitable for Class A fires, they will fight any solid materials which catch alight.
Alternatively, the other version of a water extinguisher is a water spray. These cover wider surface areas at a higher pressure but are still only suitable for Class A fires. Occasionally, both types of fire extinguisher may include chemical additives to improve how effective they are.
They are also both a solid red colour, one with ‘water’ printed across in white bold text and one with the text ‘aqua spray’, also in a bold white.
Foam extinguishers are water based, containing a foaming agent which rapidly eliminates flames by using a blanketing effect to seal vapours so they cannot reoccur.
Suitable for both Class A and Class B materials, it is advised they should not be sprayed directly onto a liquid. Instead, from a distance so the blanket can build up across it.
To identify a foam extinguisher, you will see the word ‘foam’ printed in a rectangular cream box.
Used for combating Class B and electrical fires, Co2 fire extinguishers remove the oxygen from the air to suffocate the fire, spreading around the surrounding areas.
Useful for areas where electrical fires could potentially occur, when used they provide minimal damage on any equipment and leave no substance behind.
With a distinct type of hose, a Co2 extinguisher has CO2 printed in white on a black rectangle across the device.
An ABC powder extinguisher acts as a thermal blast that cools flames to stop any burning. These are used to attack Class A, B and C substances.
However, when used, the extinguishers can pose a danger of inhalation if used in close spaces and can also leave residue behind causing damage to any materials.
The extinguisher will display ‘powder’ in white text over a blue rectangle, with ‘ABC powder’ written underneath the rectangle.
Capable of dissipating fires that are of an extremely high temperature, wet chemical extinguishers are designed for tackling Class F fires.
Using chemicals, when dispersed the extinguisher eliminates the flames, cools burning oil, and produces a solution that seals the surface of the fire, preventing any reignition. The entire contents of the canister should be used, applying the substance to the fire in a circular motion.
The words ‘wet chemical’ are printed on a yellow rectangle for users to identify.
Quality fire extinguishers from STF
At STF Solutions Ltd, we provide a professional, cost effective service and maintenance scheme, for fire extinguishers across your business. Whether you need one extinguisher from a sole trader or a range of 500 extinguishers for a multi-national company, we can cater to your needs.
With the selection of 5 fire extinguishers available, we will ensure you have the suitable type for your building. Take a look at our fire extinguisher service.