Fire Extinguishers – Types & Uses


    Fire extinguishers are a crucial element of comprehensive fire safety and, in commercial and industrial properties, are often required by legal health and safety regulations.

    However, fire extinguishers come in a range of types and, according to the kind of environment you live or work within, a particular model of fire extinguisher, or combination of fire extinguishers, will be necessary.


    Use: Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are ideal for environments at risk of electrical appliances (Class E) and fires involving flammable liquids (Class B).

    Dangers: CO2 extinguishers should not be used on fires involving solid materials, such as paper, wood, and fabric, and are not suitable for use on flammable gases.

    How it works: The CO2 works by cutting off the fire’s oxygen supply. This then smothers it and, as it does so, extinguishes the flames.


    Use: Water fire extinguishers are best for combatting Class A fires, for example fires involving organic solid materials, such as wood, cloth, fabric, paper, and plastics.

    Dangers: Do not use on burning fat or oil and never use on fires involving electrical appliances.

    How it works: The water released from the fire extinguisher soaks the burning materials, cooling them down and completely putting out the fire.

    Water Additive

    Water Additive extinguishers are similar to the traditional water extinguishers, designed to tackle Class A fires, however the chemical additives make these extinguishers much more effective when used and therefore come with a higher fire rating.


    AFFF Foam

    Use: Effective against both Class A and Class B fires, foam extinguishers can protect environments that are at risk from material fires, involving solids such as paper and wood, and from fires involving flammable liquids.

    Dangers: Do not use on domestic chip or fat pan fires.

    How it works: The foam is used to suffocate the fire and it seals the surface of the burning object or materials as it smothers it, cooling it down as it does so. It also prevents stray materials scattering and starting fires elsewhere.

    Dry Powder

    Use: Ideal for multi-risk environments, powder extinguishers are effective at combatting Class A, B and C fires. Therefore, this means they can be used on solid materials, flammable liquids and gases and electrical equipment.

    Dangers: Do not use powder fire extinguishers on fires involving cooking oils or fats.

    How it works: The powder, which is released by a compressed gas, acts as an extinguishing agent to create an effective blanket over the flames, smothering its source and, as a result, cooling it and preventing it from spreading.

    Wet Chemical

    Use: Wet chemical extinguishers have been specifically designed for fires involving cooking oils and fats (Class F fires) making them ideal for commercial and residential kitchens.

    Dangers: They are not suitable for, and should never be used to tackle, fires involving flammable liquids or gases, metals or fires involving electrical equipment.

    How it works: The wet chemical present is released as a fine spray which then dampens the flames. Simultaneously, the chemical element reacts with the fuel of the fire to create a film, sealing the surface and completely extinguishing it.

    Automatic Fire Extinguisher

    Use: Suitable for Class A, B and C fires, they are specifically designed to tackle fires involving solids, flammable liquids, and flammable gases. They can also be used on electrical equipment.

    Dangers: Automatic fire extinguishers are not suitable for fires involving cooking oil or fat.

    How it works: Set off automatically, they usually protect a certain square footage by releasing an extinguishing agent. This makes them ideal for environments where manual operation is not always possible and where immediate activation is sometimes necessary, such as machinery and plant equipment, boat engine bays and flammable product storage areas.

    If you need fire extinguishers or want any advice, call us on 0330 999 0019.

    The Firechief range includes high-performance fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits, lithium-ion fire extinguishers for your home and leisure time.  For more information, call us on +44 (0)330 999 0019 or email


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