Types of Fire Extinguishers: How to Choose the Right One?

So you have bought a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket to use in case of a fire. But is it the right one?

All fire extinguishers are not the same. Choosing the right type of fire extinguisher is necessary because the wrong one may cause more havoc than suppress a fire.

The first step to choosing the right type of fire extinguisher is deciding what type of fire you want to purchase it for.

There are mainly six classes of fires:

  • Class A: Combustible carbon-based substances, such as paper, timber, or fabrics
  • Class B: Combustible liquids such as wax, gasoline, petrol, or oil (but not cooking oil)
  • Class C: Combustible gases such as butane, propane, or methane
  • Class D: Metals that burn which include aluminum, lithium, and magnesium.
  • Class E: Electrical equipment-related fires (indicated by an electric spark symbol and not the letter E)
  • Class F: Fats and cooking oils

You can extinguish a particular class of fire with a specific type of fire extinguisher. There are five types of fire extinguishers – water, foam, CO2, powder, water mist, and wet chemicals.

Type of Fire Extinguisher Fire Class Suitability
Water Class A
AFFF Foam Class A & Class B
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Class B and electrical equipment
ABC Powder Class A, B, C (flammable gases) and electrical equipment
De-ionized Water Mist Class A, B, C, and electrical equipment
Wet Chemical Class A & Class F

Here is a video explaining how to use fire extinguishers:

Fire Extinguisher Color Codes

1. Water

Water fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers that have a RED label are classified as water fire extinguishers. They are also labeled with a class A rating meaning they are suitable for class A fires.

You must be careful with them around electrical fires. Although some models are safe for electrical fires, you must always handle them with care.

2. AFFF Foam

Foam fire extinguisher

AFFF Foam fire extinguishers are labeled with a cream color. They are best suited to douse class A and class B fires effectively.

You can also use it on electrical appliances if the product has been tested dielectrically.

3. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

CO2 fire extinguisher

The label on CO2 fire extinguishers is black. They were initially meant for use on flammable liquid flames and thus, have a class B fire rating.

You can also use them for electrical fires since they do not leave any residue.

4. ABC Powder

ABC powder fire extinguisher

The label on ABC powder fire extinguishers is blue. They are adaptable and may be used on classes A, B, C, and electrical fires.

They are manufactured in a variety of sizes ranging from 1 to 9kg and are appropriate for use in situations with a combination of fire dangers. When utilizing powder extinguishers indoors, however, there is a danger of inhaling. As a result, powder fire extinguishers are not suggested for use in tiny spaces, residences, or businesses. Engine rooms and outside machinery are the only options.

5. De-Ionized Water Mist

De-ionized water mist fire extinguisher

De-ionized water mist fire extinguishers are particularly good on classes A, B, C, and smoldering electrical devices and feature a white label.

The hypersonic tip of the water mist injectors produces a minuscule mist veil, which reduces the oxygen levels. Because de-ionized water mist does not carry electricity and does not produce puddles that could result in electrocution, water mist extinguishers are secure and well designed for use on blazing electrical equipment.

6. Wet Chemical

Wet chemical fire extinguisher

Yellow-labeled wet chemical fire extinguishers are suitable for usage on fires involving flammable cooking materials such as burning oil and lard.

They have a unique dart injector nozzle and a class F classification. They usually have an extra class A classification and are not suitable for use on class B fires (petrol, diesel, paint, paraffin, and so on).

Wrapping Up Types of Fire Extinguishers

That’s all about the types of fire extinguishers. Remember, all fire extinguishers are not the same and you cannot extinguish all fires using the same type of fire extinguisher. Moreover, having just one fire extinguisher gives you a false sense of safety when in reality, when the time comes, it will not work as it must.

If you have any doubts regarding fire extinguishers, ask us via the comments.

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