Different types of fire extinguishers

Stocks of Fire extinguishers

In the unfortunate event of a fire, having a fire extinguisher on hand is vital. It could help you save your property… or even your life.

Every fire is different. Depending on the flammable materials involved, you may need to use a specific type of fire extinguisher. If you choose the wrong type, it could be ineffective or dangerous.

Understanding the different classes of fire can help you to identify which types of fire extinguishers you need for adequate fire protection for your commercial site.

Fire inside a building with Fire exit and fire alarm

Different classes of fire

There are six classes of fire:

  • Class A – Normal combustibles such as wood or plastic
  • Class B – Flammable liquids such as petrol or paint
  • Class C – Combustible gases such as LPG gas or natural gas
  • Class D – Flammable metals such as magnesium
  • Class E – Electrically energised equipment such as short-circuited machinery or overloaded electrical cables
  • Class F – Cooking oils such as vegetable oil, fats and lard.

Types of fire extinguishers

Each type of fire involves different flammable materials and requires a specific approach. Because of this there are five main types of fire extinguishers. And the simplest way to identify the contents of the fire extinguisher is by its coloured band.

Water fire extinguishers (No band – all red)

Suitable to extinguish Class A fires involving wood, paper, cloth, rubber, plastics, grass or coal. But it is important to be aware that you should not use this type of extinguisher for Class E – electrical fires – as it has the potential to conduct electricity and electrocute someone.

Foam fire extinguishers (Blue)

Suitable to extinguish Class A and B fires involving flammable and combustible liquids such as petrol, kerosene, oil, paint and wax.

Fire extinguishers of different colour
Dry Chemical Powder – (White)

This is the most popular type of fire extinguisher, due to its extremely wide variety of uses. There are two commonly used dry chemical powder extinguisher types – ABE and BE.

As its name suggests, the ABE is suitable to extinguish various classes of fire involving wood, paper, petrol or electrical cables (up to 1000 volts), whereas the BE is suitable for petrol, electrical cables (up to 1000 volts) and Class F cooking oils. Both are also suitable for Class C fire types.

Carbon Dioxide (‘CO2’) Fire extinguisher (Black)

Suitable for Class E fires. Generally not suitable for outdoor use.

Wet Chemical fire extinguisher (Oatmeal)

Suitable for Class F fire involving cooking oils and fats, as well as Class A fires – wood, paper, cloth, rubber, plastics, grass and coal. You should install this type of extinguishers in commercial cooking settings.

Hand holding a fire extinguisher

How to use a fire extinguisher

All fire extinguishers in Australia are designed to be operated using the PASS technique:

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim it at the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle.
  • Sweep from side to side.
Man holding a Fire Extinguisher on the ground

Complying with fire protection regulations

Fire extinguishers in a commercial premise should be stored so they are easy to access but are away from areas likely to catch fire.

Business owners need to comply with their relevant government fire protection regulations. This includes the types and number of fire extinguishers on-site, correct installation and ongoing maintenance.

Experts in fire extinguishers

DEM Fire looks after every aspect of your fire protection design, installation and maintenance – and that includes all certification and reporting. Our on-staff accredited fire protection experts complete all client reports. We never outsource because we have the best people right here. Our staff members are industry leaders – with decades of experience and industry knowledge.

Please get in touch for help on choosing the right fire extinguisher for your business. Read more Fire Protection articles.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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