Types of Fire Extinguishers & Their Uses
Fire extinguishers are vital in helping to save lives and meet your legal obligations. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that the responsible person should ensure “appropriate fire fighting equipment” is provided.
With the right fire extinguisher in place, a small fire could be put out before it begins to spread, helping to keep anyone in the building safe while also protecting assets and infrastructure from avoidable damage.
But what are the right fire extinguishers for your business? We provide all the main types of extinguishers here at LW Safety, so this month we’ll be guiding you through the different types, their label colours, what they’re best suited to, and the fire classes they deal with.
Label colour: Cream
Foam fire extinguishers are used to tackle Class A and B fire types, commonly used on solids and flammable liquids like paints or spirits. You should never use this type of extinguisher on cooking oils and fats that catch fire as it risks spreading the fire and injury to the user because of the violent reactions involved.
You might find foam extinguishers in offices, apartment buildings, hospitals or even retail environments.
Label colour: Red
The water fire extinguisher is the most commonly recognised, but is only designed to tackle Class A fires involving organic materials – that includes things like textiles, wood, card and paper and even coal. Never use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire, as it creates an electrocution hazard. You should also not use this extinguisher on cooking oil and fat fires.
Water extinguishers are ideally suited to offices, retail, hospitals and schools where there will be a variety of materials.
Label colour: Blue
Dry powder fire extinguishers cover a range of fire types, including Class A, B, C and electrical fires. This means they can tackle a number of different fire types, including gas fires, organic solids and even liquids such as paint. You should never use this extinguisher type on chip pan fires, and since powder inhalation is dangerous, it should not be operated in small, confined spaces. Powder extinguishers for use indoors should be evaluated by a health and safety assessment due to the fact they can also compromise vision.
Suited to a wide range of businesses, you might expect to see these used in gas manufacturing plants, auto centres and boiler rooms.
Label colour: Yellow
While suitable for Class A fires, wet chemical extinguishers are the only type you can safely use on cooking fires that involve oils and fats (Class F fires), as the mist works to cover the liquid and cool the fire without risk of splashing. Most wet chemical fire extinguishers should not be used on petrol fires, however, at LW Safety we can provide wet chem extinguishers to use on Class B fires.
For obvious reasons, this type of extinguisher is best suited to kitchens, canteens and restaurants where cooking is taking place.
Label colour: Black
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are perfect for electrical fires since they don’t create any further risk – they’re also suitable for Class B fires. CO2 extinguishers should not be used on chip pan fires or fat fires.
This extinguisher type is great for any premises with a lot of electrical equipment such as offices, server rooms or IT and call centres.
LW Safety Fire Extinguishers
At LW Safety, we provide a full range of fire extinguishers to help you tackle fires that may occur in your specific business. We help select and site units in line with BS 5306-8 and can install, commission and maintain your fire extinguishers in line with BS 5306-3. If you need certified, qualified engineers in Wembley, Harrow, Uxbridge or the surrounding areas, look no further – simply contact us today and we’ll be happy to help. You can call our team or use our quick quote form at the top of this page.