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What Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?

Here are a few tips on types of extinguishers, their uses and extinguisher safety.

Fire Extinguisher and Fire Fighting Equipment

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Water   Foam (including wet chemical)   

Dry Powder   Carbon Dioxide

Colour Coding

The rules for the colouring of fire extinguishers have now changed, all extinguishers have to be red. However, the colour code may still be used providing that no more than 5% of the extinguisher body is that colour.

Classes of Fire

Class ‘A’  -  Symbol: a campfire
Free burning materials
- E.g. Wood, Paper; Fabrics, Furniture.

Which extinguisher?  - Water, Foam, Dry Powder, CO2 (Safe but not ideal).

Class ‘B’
  -  Symbol: a petrol can

Flammable Liquids - E.g. Petrol, Paraffin, Paints, Fats & Oils, Thinners, Solvents.

Which extinguisher? -   Foam,  Dry Powder, CO2.

Class ‘C’
  -  Symbol: a gas jet

Flammable Gasses- E.g. North Sea Gas, Butane, Propane, Acetylene, Hydrogen.

Which extinguisher? - Do not extinguish

Class ‘D’

Combustible Metals - E.g. Magnesium, Sodium.

Which extinguisher? - Do not extinguish.

Electrical Fires
  -  Symbol: Zigzag arrow

E.g. electrical appliances/installations.

Which extinguisher? - Dry Powder, CO2.


Class F  -  Symbol: a frying pan

e.g Fires involving fats and cooking oils.

Which extinguisher - Liquid Chemical

Using a Fire Extinguisher

  1. Use upright.
  2. Remove the safety device.
  3. Free the hose/direct the discharge horn.
  4. Direct the hose/horn at the base of the fire.
  5. Squeeze the handles and direct at the base of the flames sweeping from side to side.

How to use an extinguisher.

Safety rules when using an extinguisher

  • Only tackle a fire that is in its early stages.
  • Never put yourself at risk.
  • Always position yourself between the fire and the exit.
  • Keep low down.
  • Only use one extinguisher.
  • Never return to a fire.
  • Never mix extinguisher types on the same fire.
  • If in doubt, get yourself out.
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