How To Use a CO2 Fire Extinguisher

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How To Use a CO2 Fire Extinguisher

For your property to be fire safe, you should have a wide array of fire safety equipment at your disposal — one of the most important tools being a CO2 fire extinguisher. Many people may wrongly assume that as long as you have a fire extinguisher present, your premises are protected. In fact, every commercial property should be equipped with multiple fire extinguishers, including a CO2 extinguisher. But what sets a CO2 fire extinguisher apart from others? 

Luckily the team at LW Safety is here to help with this useful article, explaining just when you should use a CO2 extinguisher.

What does a CO2 fire extinguisher look like?

CO2 extinguishers can be easily identified by their hard horn and lack of a pressure gauge. The internal pressure of these extinguishers is so great that dry ice is often expelled; this makes a hard horn crucial for operation, as this can cause frostbite if it makes contact with the skin. 

At first glance, all fire extinguishers may appear to look fairly similar. However, each classification of fire extinguisher should correspond with a different coloured band; in the case of CO2 extinguishers, they should be marked by a black band. CO2 extinguishers are also typically smaller and lighter to handle than other types of fire extinguishers.

CO2 fire extinguishers

When do you need a CO2 fire extinguisher?

CO2 extinguishers are distinct in their ability to be used on electrical fires; this is because the CO2 gas discharged is non-conducive, so will not result in electrocution when used on live electrical equipment. They are a popular choice for offices and server rooms as the gas expelled leaves no residue. This will not cause damage to expensive equipment like other extinguishants, such as water, foam or powder. 

CO2 extinguishers can also be used on fires fuelled by flammable liquids — commonly referred to as Class B Fires — so are sometimes found in labs or on petrol forecourts.

How do you use a CO2 fire extinguisher?

Step 1 – Assess the surroundings

You should only ever operate a fire extinguisher on smaller fires. Should the fire already be large and out of control, using a fire extinguisher will likely have little effect, so it’s best to evacuate as quickly as possible.

It’s also crucial to consider the environment where you will be releasing the extinguisher; CO2 extinguishers should never be used in enclosed spaces as there is a high risk of asphyxiation due to the rapid reduction in breathable air. 

Step 2 – Aim

If possible and safe, you should turn off the electrical supply to prevent re-ignition. You should then aim the hard horn at the base of the fire; this ensures the extinguishant takes effect quicker as the fuel is cooled at the source. 

Step 3 – Discharge

If you’re sure it is safe to do so, you can begin operating the CO2 extinguisher. The anti-tamper pin must be removed, and then you can squeeze the lever and begin discharging the CO2.

A CO2 extinguisher has a very short discharge time so, once the flames have been doused, it’s important to evacuate quickly in case of possible re-ignition. Due to how rapidly the CO2 is released, there will likely be a loud noise — don’t be alarmed!


Here at LW Safety, we supply CO2 fire extinguishers to commercial premises throughout Wembley, Harrow, Uxbridge and beyond. We can also provide regular maintenance work, to ensure all of your extinguishers are in good condition and ready to protect your property.

Our BAFE-accredited team have years of experience and are happy to provide advice on the right extinguisher for your needs — simply contact us today for additional information.

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