Fire Extinguishers: An Explainer

By  //  September 16, 2021

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With the release of Grenfell: The Untold Story this month on Channel 4, fire safety is once again at the forefront of people’s minds. 

In fact, fire has been omnipresent this summer, with wildfires scorching swathes of Europe and North America. 

Closer to home, it is important to understand what the different types of fire extinguishers are and how to use them

However, many people don’t know how to properly use a fire extinguisher or which type to use for which fire. This explainer aims to help.

Not knowing which fire extinguisher to use could result in serious harm to yourself and it could exacerbate the fire. 

The risks of using a fire extinguisher in the wrong way are too great and your safety should come first at all times.

If you’re unsure which fire extinguishers to use, it is best to head for safety as quickly as possible and call the fire brigade on 999. 

Types of fire extinguisher

Water extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers are the most common types around. It works by dousing a fire in water to put it out. 

Where to use one

Use a water extinguisher to put out fires that are ignited and fed by wood, cloth, paper and other materials that are not highly flammable. 

Foam extinguisher

Smothering fires with a dense foam, foam fire extinguishers are also very common in most commercial settings.

Where to use one

Useful for smothering liquid fires, foam extinguishers can also be used in the same way as a water fire extinguisher. 

Dry powder extinguisher

Dry powder fire extinguishers have been specially developed for use on class A, B and C fires. That is, fires ignited by combustible materials. 

Where to use one

Use a dry powder extinguisher on fires started by flammable gasses and liquids. 

Carbon dioxide extinguisher

Present in many public and private buildings, carbon dioxide extinguishers are one of the more commonly used types. 

Where to use one

Use carbon dioxide extinguishers for electrical fires. 

Wet chemical extinguisher

Often found in commercial kitchens, wet chemical extinguishers use a chemical mixture to put out fires. 

Where to use one

Use these extinguishers for cooking and hot oil fires, specifically deep fat fryer fires. 

No matter where a fire breaks out, it needs to be extinguished safely. By knowing the correct use for different extinguishers, you’ll be able put it out efficiently.