Fire extinguishers are available in different types with each one having specific fire classes that they are suitable for use on. Fire extinguishers meeting BS EN3 should have a red body (RAL 3000) and an agent specific colour band covering between 5-10% of the surface relating to the extinguisher's contents.
Water fire extinguishers have a class A rating and are suitable for fighting fires involving solid combustibles such as wood, paper and textiles.
Electrical equipment should be avoided when using a water extinguisher (unless water with additive are used). as water is a conductor.
AFFF foam fire extinguishers are highly effective on class A and class B fires (the foam agent helps to prevent re-ignition).
Some foam extinguishers have been dielectrically tested to 35000 Volt (35kV) and can be used on or near electrical appliances.
CO2 fire extinguishers were originally designed for use on flammable liquid fires and therefore have a class B fire rating.
They are ideal for electrical fires, as CO2 is not a conductor and they do not leave behind any harmful residue.
ABC powder fire extinguishers are extremely versatile and can be used on class A, class B, class C and electrical fires.
They are available in a range of sizes from 1 - 9kg and are ideal for application in environments containing mixed fire risks. However, there is a risk of inhalation when using powder extinguishers indoors. Powder fire extinguishers are therefore not recommended for use within small rooms, homes and offices.
Water mist fire extinguishers are highly effective on class A, B, C, F and electrical fires.
The unique design of the water mist extinguishers' supersonic nozzle creates a microscopic mist curtain, reducing the oxygen content. Water mist extinguishers are also safe on fires caused by electricity, as the water mist does not conduct electricity and the water mist does not form puddles which could lead to electrocution.
Wet Chemical fire extinguishers are designed specifically for use on fires involving combustible cooking media such as burning oil and fat.
They have a class F rating and a special lance applicator nozzle. They usually have an additional class A rating and are normally not designed for use on class B fires (petrol, diesel, paint, paraffin etc), although the 3ltr Gloria wet chemical fire extinguisher is an exception.
Reviewed: 21/02/2017 (doc:2 V1.0). Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. Please note that we provide abridged, easy-to-understand guidance. To make detailed decisions about your fire safety provisions, you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.