Fire extinguishers play an important fire safety role – but only if you pick the right one for the job.
How many types of fire extinguisher do you think exist? Clue: it’s more than a few!
If you need more information about fire extinguisher types or other fire safety services that we provide, call us today on 0800 0830131 or complete this short form and we will be in touch right away:
Fire Extinguisher Types Enquiry
What type of fire extinguisher do I need?
Your fire risk assessment is a good place to start. It depends on the size of your premises, the nature of your business and a few other variables. We can help advise you if you’re unsure.
There are five common categories, one of which you’ll find in nearly every building with fire extinguisher equipment. These are:
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Dry powder (also known as dry chemical)
When assessing risk, it’s important to also consider which class (or classes) of fire might occur in your building? Each category of fire extinguisher will be suitable for one or more classes. Remember, you can’t use a fire extinguisher on a fire it’s not rated for. Trying to extinguish an electrical fire with water could be catastrophic.
All our fire extinguishers come in a variety of sizes and bear the British Kitemark BS EN3: 1996.
Let’s take a look at these categories in more detail.
Water fire extinguisher
Water has been used to fight fire since the beginning of time and water fire extinguishers are still one of the most popular choices. They can only be used for class A fires. These tend to be caused by the combustion of solid, organic materials such as wood, paper and textiles.
Foam fire extinguisher
Foam fire extinguishers are ideal for a wide range of materials which make them a popular choice. They are suitable for fire classes A and B and they work by releasing a layer of foam over a burning area. The foam smothers the flames by cutting off the fire’s oxygen supply.
You may see these extinguishers described as AFFF – this stands for Aqueous Film Forming Foam.
CO2 fire extinguisher
Office buildings with expensive electrical equipment are well protected by CO2 extinguishers which can extinguish fire without causing damage. They are extremely effective for class B fires involving electrical hazards and flammable liquids.
The CO2 neutralises the oxygen feeding the fire, however, there is no cooling effect as with water, so they are not suitable for fires caused by combustible solids. They are also not recommended for situations like chip pan fires; the CO2 gas exits the extinguisher at high pressure and can literally fan the flames onto nearby surfaces.
Dry powder fire extinguisher
Highly versatile in mixed risk environments, dry powder is especially effective at dousing fires caused by flammable liquids and gases. If your building contains electrical hazards, you may also want to consider a dry powder extinguisher (although they can cause damage to sensitive electrical components).
They are suitable for fire classes A, B and C. In environments where specialist metals are present you’ll need a specialist dry powder extinguisher – just ask us for more information.
Wet chemical fire extinguisher
Found in all professional kitchens, the wet chemical extinguisher is designed for use on cooking oils. Any fire involving oils or fats such as butter, lard, and olive oil can be dealt with. These are known as class F fires.
Each wet chemical fire extinguisher is fire rated for a specified amount of cooking oil (when heated to an automatic ignition temperature). So, if your deep fat fryer holds 75litres, you’ll want to make sure your fire extinguisher can cope.
Some wet chemical fire extinguishers can be used on class B fires involving flammable liquids such as diesel, petrol and paint. However, you must check first that they are suitable.
One of the downsides of wet chemical extinguishers is the fumes they emit, so if you used one for a small kitchen fire, be sure to fully ventilate the area afterwards.
I’m worried I won’t know what to do if fire breaks out
If you’re the responsible person, one of your legal duties is to provide basic fire safety training to anyone who might need it. This will include how to use fire extinguishers.
The reality is that very few lay people ever need to use one. But if you do, rest assured that they are designed for fast, efficient deployment and with adequate training, you’ll know what to do in an emergency.
All fire extinguishers are clearly labelled with an ID sign and are colour-coded; so, if you have more than one on standby, you’ll know immediately which one to choose.
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Want to know more about Fire Extinguishers?
For a greater understanding about fire extinguishers and why you must have them and act on it for your business, take a look at our blog.
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