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Types of Fire Extinguishers


Use this guide to the different types of fire extinguishers.

Portable fire extinguishers are very important to ensure the security and safety of everyone, as well as the property inside the house or a commercial building. They should be readily available and easy to use in case of fire. You have to keep in mind, however, that there different types of fire extinguishers and you’ve to have the right one for a particular fire emergency, and that you know how to use them correctly.Fire Extinguisher Water Squiter

First off, you must know exactly what type or class of fire you’re attempting to control when choosing the right type of fire extinguisher. If you find yourself in a fire emergency situation and you are not sure which extinguisher to use, it is best to just activate the fire alarm system and leave the area immediately.

Different Classes of Fire

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has divided fires into five classes, which is determined by the materials being burned. They are the following:

  • Class A:  This refers to ordinary combustibles such as trash, paper, wood or other similar materials as the fuel source.
  • Class B:  The fire or fuel source of fire is flammable or combustible liquids or gases.
  • Class C:  The fire involves electrical equipment or apparatus.
  • Class D:  The fuel source is certain ignitable or combustible metals.
  • Class K: This involves cooking oil or fat.

Unlike other countries like United Kingdom and Australia, there’s no official standard that we follow in the United States for specific colors of fire extinguishers. Typically, we have the color red and yellow for Class D extinguishers, and silver or white for water symbol.

Common Types of Fire Extinguishers

Water Fire Extinguishers

This is the most common and widely used fire extinguisher. They are also known as APW extinguishers. The APW stands for ‘air-pressurized water’ that is used as extinguishing agents for fire that involves ordinary combustibles. They are typically 2 feet tall and weigh around 25 pounds, containing about 2/3 water, pressurized with normal air.

Allstar ALL10500 Red Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher

Allstar ALL10500 Red Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers are designed only for Class A fire. Never use them to put out flammable liquid fires or where electricity is involved, or else you will only making the fire spread faster.

Foam Fire Extinguishers

This type is more expensive than water, yet it is more versatile when it comes to Classes A and B fires. They are not, however, recommended for fires that involve electricity.

Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

This is often known as a ‘multi-purpose’ fire extinguisher. The name fits as Dry Powder can be used on Classes A, B and C fires. It can efficiently extinguish Class C fires, but you have to make sure to first isolate the gas supply. There are special dry powders fire extinguishers available for Class D metal fires.

CO2 Fire Extinguishers

This type of fire extinguisher is ideal for fires that involve electrical equipment or apparatus. C02 fire extinguisher is also effective for Class B liquid fires, but be sure to secure the area as the fire could re-ignite.

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