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Which fire extinguisher do I use?

There are five main types of portable fire extinguisher, all of which are used on particular types of fire. These are water, powder, foam, wet chemical and carbon dioxide.


To identify what types of extinguisher you need, you need to identify the classes of fire most likely to occur in your premises as a part of a fire risk assessment.


It should be noted that there are fire extinguishers available that claim to be usable in any type of fire, however some organisations, like the Fire Protection Association state that “no single type of fire extinguisher can be used on all types of fire”. (source Fire and Risk Management magazine, October 2023 page 51 - the magazine of the Fire Protection Association).



There are six main types of fire:


Class A those involving combustible materials caused by flammable solids such as wood, fabric and paper.


Class B flammable liquid fires such as petrol, turpentine or paint.


Class C flammable gas fires such as hydrogen, butane or methane.


Class D combustible metal fires, such as magnesium, potassium or aluminium.


Electrical fires from electrical equipment


Class F fires caused by cooking oils and fats, such as a chip pan.


The table below shows what type of extinguisher can safely be used with what class of fire. The table may be useful to people who are doing our online training courses on Fire Marshal, Fire Marshals for Care Homes, and Fire Extinguishers.



TYPE

Water

Foam

Dry Powder

Carbon Dioxide

Wet Chemical

Class A

Yes

Yes

Yes

NO

Yes

Class B

NO

Yes

Yes

Yes

NO

Class C

NO

NO

Yes

NO

NO

Class D

NO

NO

Yes

NO

NO

Electrical

NO

NO

Yes

Yes

NO

Class F

NO

NO

NO

NO

Yes






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