8 Different Types of Fire Extinguishers & Equipment

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Having the right fire equipment and extinguishers can make all the difference in fighting a fire. It’s essential for businesses, schools, and residential buildings to have efficient safety measures in place to keep their occupants safe from potential danger. Choosing the best type of fire extinguisher is essential due to its specific variety of users based on combustible materials. In this blog post, we’ll explore 8 types of fire extinguishers and safety equipment commonly found in various places around the home or workplace. We’ll discuss their differences and how they can effectively protect your environment or property during an emergency.

8 Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

If you encounter an accidental fire, throwing your hands up in the air and running away isn’t a good idea. Knowing which type of fire extinguisher to use can help you stay safe and ensure the fire is extinguished quickly. The type of fire extinguisher you use should depend on the flames and the materials involved in the fire. Let’s take a look at the different types of fire extinguishers and what they are used for:

1. Water Extinguisher

Water Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Water extinguishers are an essential tool in fire safety. They put out fires caused by combustible materials such as paper, wood, and some plastics. Water extinguishers use a high-pressure stream to break up the chemical reaction between oxygen and fuel, which creates fire. They work best on Class A fires involving common combustible materials such as paper and wood. Water extinguishers are the most affordable type of fire extinguisher and are typically found in homes, offices, and other places where a fire could start.

IdentitySignal Red
Best ForFires involving solid organic materials such as wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal, etc.
DangerDo not use it on burning fat or oil or on electrical appliances.
How to UsePoint the jet at the base of the flames and keep it moving across the area of the fire. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out.
How it WorksWater has a significant cooling effect on the fuel’s surface and thereby reduces the pyrolysis rate of the fuel.

2. Water Spray Extinguisher (Water with additive)

Water Spray Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Water Spray extinguishers are specialized firefighting tools designed to quickly blast small fires. This fire extinguisher is filled with water and is most effective at smothering flames caused by combustible materials such as wood, paper, or textiles. Water spray extinguishers work best when the source of the flame can be quickly identified and extinguished before it has a chance to spread.

Water spray extinguishers are excellent for fighting flammable liquid fires, especially those caused by cooking oil or gasoline. Water spray extinguishers create a mist of fine droplets that coat the surface of the fire, cutting off the oxygen supply and suppressing the flames. These extinguishers are also helpful for electrical fires, as the water is not electrically conductive and, therefore safe to use around live electrical equipment.

IdentityWater Extinguisher Signal Red
Best ForFires involving solid organic materials such as wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal, etc. These offer significantly improved firefighting capability compared to traditional jet-type water fire extinguishers. Available in 3 and 6 liters.
DangerDo not use it on burning fat or oil or on electrical appliances.
How to UsePoint the jet at the base of the flames and keep it moving across the area of the fire. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out.
How it WorksWater has a significant cooling effect on the fuel’s surface and thereby reduces the pyrolysis rate of the fuel. Instead of a jet nozzle, a spray nozzle is used, with a higher pressure, which creates a fine spray. This allows for a given quantity of water to considerably increase the surface area presented to the fire. This makes extinguishing more efficient by more rapid heat extraction, steam formation, etc. They can also contain surfactants which help the water penetrate deep into the burning material, increasing the extinguisher’s effectiveness.

3. Water Mist Extinguisher (‘Dry’ Water Mist)

Water Mist Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Water mist extinguishers are special devices designed to extinguish fire with excellent water spray, usually in very small droplets. This makes them suitable for tackling class A fires (solids such as wood, paper, and plastics) and some class B fires (flammable liquids like petrol and oil).

When a water mist extinguisher is activated, the spray of water droplets creates an oxygen-depleted environment around the fire, starving it of air and suffocating the flames. At the same time, the fine spray helps cool down any burning materials by absorbing heat. The tiny droplets also help to keep smoke and dust down.

This type of fire extinguisher is particularly effective in enclosed spaces since it works quickly and leaves behind a little residue that can be difficult to clean up. The water mist also minimizes the risk of a re-ignition, making them an excellent choice for sensitive environments such as computer rooms or museums.

IdentitySignal Red on a White Background
Best ForThe first broad-spectrum extinguisher to tackle A, B, C rated risks, fats, and deep fat fryers (Class F). Models with a dielectric test to 35k Volts can be safely used on electrical fires (up to 1000 Volt) if a safety distance of 1m is adhered to, as their mist (de-ionized water) does not conduct electricity and the extinguisher does not usually form puddles, which could conduct electricity. The UltraFire water mist extinguishers also contain only de-ionized water, which cannot carry an electric current.
DangerWater mist extinguishers are safe for discharge on all fire classifications bar Class D blazes.
How to UsePoint the jet at the base of the flames and keep it moving across the area of the fire. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out. The fire draws the microscopic water particles into the fire.
How it WorksWater is turned into microscopic particles in the supersonic nozzle. The water mist is drawn to the fire, where it cools and suffocates the fire. The mist also forms a safety barrier between the user and the fire, which keeps some heat back.

4. Powder Extinguisher (Multi-Purpose)

Powder Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Powder extinguishers are fire extinguishers that use a dry chemical powder to help put out fires. Powder extinguishers are also known as multi-purpose fire extinguishers and can be used on Class A, B, and C fires. The powder works by cooling the fuel, smothering the oxygen supply, and forming a protective layer, which prevents the combustion from continuing. This makes powder extinguishers an excellent choice for various firefighting situations.

Powder extinguishers are relatively easy to use and are often the first choice when fighting fires. They are also lightweight and highly portable, making them perfect for use in homes, offices, and other places where a fire may break out. Powder extinguishers are available in various sizes, so you can choose one that is suitable for the size of your space and type of fire you’re dealing with.

IdentityDry Powder Extinguisher Blue
Best ForIt can be used on fires involving organic solids, liquids such as grease, fats, oil, paint, petrol, etc but not on-chip or fat pan fires. It can also be used on gas fires.
DangerSafe on live electrical equipment, although it does not penetrate the spaces in equipment quickly, the fire may re-ignite. This type of extinguisher does not cool the fire very well, and care should be taken, so the fire does not flare up again.

The smoldering material in deep-seated fires, such as upholstery or bedding, can cause the fire to start again. Do not use on a domestic chip or fat pan fires. There is a danger of inhalation if powder extinguishers are used within buildings. Due to this and the potential for the powder to impair vision, powder extinguishers are no longer recommended for use within enclosed spaces.
How to UsePoint the jet or discharge horn at the base of the flames and, with a rapid sweeping motion, drive the fire towards the far edge until all the flames are out. If the extinguisher has hand control, wait until the air clears, and if you can still see the flames, attack the fire again.
How it WorksSimilarly to almost all extinguishing agents, the powder acts as a thermal ballast making the flames too cool for the chemical reactions to continue. Some powders also provide a minor chemical inhibition, although this effect is relatively weak. These powders thus provide rapid knockdown of flame fronts but may not suppress the fire.

5. Dry Powder Extinguisher (Special Powders)

Dry Powder Extinguisher Types of Fire Extinguishers

Dry powder extinguishers, also known as special powders, are a type of fire safety equipment used to contain and control fires. They are designed for use with flammable liquids such as solvents, oils, and fats that may be found in commercial kitchens or garages. The powder or granulated material contained in the extinguisher works by creating a barrier between the oxygen and fuel, preventing further burning. It also smothers the fire, removing its heat source and causing it to go out. The powder is non-corrosive, making it an ideal choice for all fires.

Special powders are usually filled with monoammonium phosphate (MAP) or potassium bicarbonate (KBC), which are non-toxic and effective for controlling most types of fire. They can be used on Class A, B, and C fires—those that involve wood, paper, cloth, liquid fuels such as gasoline, oils, and fats, and live electrical equipment—making them a versatile choice for various applications.

IdentityBlue
Best ForThese specialist powder extinguishers are designed to tackle fires involving combustible metals such as lithium, magnesium, sodium, or aluminum when in the form of a swarf or powder. Three special powders are based on graphite, copper, and sodium chloride.
DangerDo not allow water to come in contact with the burning metal; the powder must be gently applied. Sodium Chloride is not recommended for Lithium.
How to UseThe lance enables the user to tackle fires at a safe distance. The low-velocity applicator reduces the jet’s energy, allowing the powder to gently smother the surface of the burning material, thus avoiding scattering the high-temperature particles and stimulating the formation of a crust. The application method is completely different from a standard extinguisher, and user training is required. They are not suitable for use on live electrical fires.
How it WorksThis extinguisher works by forming a crust that insulates the metal to prevent access to other combustible material nearby and smothering the fire to prevent oxygen from the atmosphere from reacting with the metal.

6. Foam Extinguisher (AFFF)

Foam Extinguisher (AFFF) - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Foam extinguishers are one of the most widely used and versatile. They are known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), also known as foam-based firefighting agents. Foam extinguishers are primarily used to put out Class B fires, which involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and paint. They are also effective in fighting Class A fires involving combustible materials such as wood or paper.

The foam extinguisher forms a blanket on the surface of the burned liquid. This blanket starves the fire of oxygen and smothers it. This makes these fire extinguishers particularly effective for flammable liquids, which is why they are used extensively.

Foam extinguishers are relatively easy to use and can be discharged quickly and efficiently, making them a great choice for fighting fires in commercial or industrial buildings. They have a wide coverage area, low toxicity, and leave no residue after being used, making them an excellent option for fire protection.

IdentityFire Extinguishers Cream
Best ForFires involving solids and burning liquids, such as paint and petrol but not suitable for chip or fat pan fires. Safe on fires caused by electricity if tested to 35kV (dielectric test) and a 1m safety distance is adhered to.
DangerDo not use on-chip or fat pan fires.
How to UseFor fires involving solids, point the jet at the base of the flames and keep it moving across the area of the fire. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out. Do not aim the jet straight into the liquid for fires involving liquids. Where the liquid on fire is in a container, point the jet at the inside edge of the container or on a nearby surface above the burning liquid. Allow the foam to build up and flow across the liquid.
How it WorksThey are mainly water-based, with a foaming agent so the foam can float on top of the burning liquid and break the interaction between the flames and the fuel surface.

7. Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Carbon dioxide extinguishers are an essential tool used in firefighting. They contain a high-pressure gas that, when discharged, discharges a large amount of cold carbon dioxide (CO2) at the base of the flame or burning object. This gas suppresses oxygen and helps to extinguish the fire quickly. Carbon dioxide is non-toxic and leaves no residue, making it a safe option for use in sensitive areas, such as laboratories or hospitals. These extinguishers are also very effective on Class B fires involving flammable liquids like petrol or oil.

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers have been around since the early 1900s and are essential to any fire safety equipment. The extinguishers are typically pressurized cylinders with a handle and nozzle attached. When triggered, the gas is released from the cylinder at high pressure and velocity, which allows it to reach deep into the flames and smother them. Carbon dioxide is also heavier than air and can therefore penetrate areas of poor ventilation that other firefighting agents may not be able to reach.

Due to their non-toxic properties, carbon dioxide extinguishers are safe for use in areas where the risk of inhalation is a concern. Additionally, because these extinguishers leave no residue, they can be used in areas where clean-up would otherwise be required after using other firefighting agents.

IdentityCO2 Fire Extinguishers Black
Best ForLive electrical equipment, although it allows re-ignition of hot plastics. Now mainly used on large computer servers, although care has to be taken not to asphyxiate people when using the extinguisher in small server rooms.
DangerDo not use on-chip or fat pan fires, as they can carry burning fat out of the container. This type of extinguisher does not cool the fire very well, and you need to ensure that the fire does not start up again. Fumes from CO2 extinguishers can asphyxiate if used in confined spaces: ventilate the area as soon as the fire has been controlled. Only use CO2 extinguishers with frost-free horns, as the hand holding the horn can otherwise be frozen to the horn, as the gas gets very cold during the discharge.
How to UseThe discharge horn should be directed at the base of the flames, and the jet should keep moving across the area of the fire.
How it WorksCarbon dioxide extinguishers work by suffocating the fire. Carbon dioxide displaces oxygen in the air. However, once discharged, the CO2 will dissipate quickly and allow access to oxygen again, which can re-ignite the fire.

8. Wet Chemical Extinguisher

Wet Chemical Extinguisher - Types of Fire Extinguishers

A wet chemical extinguisher is a specialized firefighting tool designed to suppress fires that involve cooking oils and fats. It creates a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen in the air, which helps to suffocate the fire. The wet chemical also cools down heated surfaces around the fire area. This makes it an ideal choice for use in commercial kitchens, where the risk of a fire involving hot oil or other cooking substances is high.

The key component of a wet chemical extinguisher is its fine mist spray nozzle. The mist comprises different chemicals, including potassium acetate and monoethanolamine, designed to quickly break down the surface tension between the fuel and the oxygen in the air. This helps to separate them, thus preventing the fire from spreading over a large area.

In addition to their use in commercial kitchens, wet chemical extinguishers can also put out small fires involving wood, paper, or other combustible materials. However, they are not recommended for use on electrical equipment, as they can cause the equipment to short circuit.

The wet chemical extinguisher is highly effective for suppressing fires involving cooking oils and fats. Still, you must understand how to use one safely and correctly to minimize any potential risk of harm. It’s also important to remember that some models may require additional safety features, such as unique masks or gloves, to ensure the user’s safety. It’s always best to consult a professional if you are unsure how to correctly use your wet chemical extinguisher.

IdentityCanary Yellow
Best ForWet chemical fire extinguishers are ideal for Class F fires involving cooking oils and fats, such as lard, olive oil, sunflower oil, maize oil, and butter.
DangerCheck manufacturer’s instructions for suitability of use. These extinguishers are usually not recommended for class B fires such as petrol, although Gloria has produced a 3 ltr wet chemical extinguisher with a B rating.
How to UseApply the wet chemical using the extended applicator in slow circular movements, which gives a gentle yet highly effective application. Apply the fine spray onto the burning fat until the surface of the burning cooking oil changes into a soapy-like substance which prevents re-ignition. The gentle application helps to prevent burning oil from splashing out of the container. Make sure that you empty the entire content of the wet chemical extinguisher onto the oil/fat, as the fire can re-ignite otherwise.
How it WorksMost class F extinguishers contain a potassium acetate solution, sometimes with some potassium citrate or potassium bicarbonate. The extinguishers spray the agent out as a fine mist. The mist cools the flame front while the potassium salts saponify the surface of the burning cooking oil, producing a layer of foam over the surface.

This solution thus provides a similar blanketing effect to a foam extinguisher but with a more significant cooling effect. The saponification only works on animal fats and vegetable oils, so most class F extinguishers cannot be used for class B fires. The misting also helps to prevent splashing the blazing oil.

Tests have established that a 6-liter wet chemical fire extinguisher with a 75F rating can deal with a fat fire of a maximum of 0.11 m2 surface area.

Additional Fire Safety Equipments For Extinguishing Fire

1. Fire Blanket

Fire Blanket - Types of Fire Extinguishers

A fire blanket is safety equipment designed to help contain and extinguish small fires. It consists of a sheet of fire retardant material that is hung on the wall or stored in a container near an exit, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Fire blankets come in various sizes and are usually made from fiberglass or woolen materials with reinforced edging for extra strength.

Fire blankets are used to smother small fires by cutting off the oxygen supply and reducing the temperature of the fire. They can be used on kitchen fires, electrical equipment, clothing, or other fabric-based materials. Users must know how to use a fire blanket properly in order to maximize its effectiveness and safety.

When using a fire blanket, it is essential to ensure that the surface area of the fire is completely covered. The blanket should be placed over the burning material and allowed to hang down and smother the flames. It is not recommended to use water on fires when a fire blanket is available, as the combination of heat and water can cause additional damage.

When the fire is extinguished, it is essential to dispose of the blanket by local regulations. It should not be reused as these blankets may contain traces of dangerous carcinogens and other hazardous materials that could result in injury or illness if inhaled.

Fire Blankets Fire blankets are made of fire-resistant materials. They help smother small pan fires or wrap around a person whose clothing is on fire. Fire blankets conforming to British Standard BS EN 1869: 1997 are suitable for use in the home. BS 7944: 1999 is the specification for specialist heavy-duty industrial use. Fire blankets should generally be disposed of after use.

Best ForSmall pan fires where oil or fat has caught fire and clothing fires.
DangerIf the blanket does not completely cover the fire, it will not be able to extinguish it.
While kitemarked fire blankets have been successfully tested on deep-fat fryers, modern frying fats are difficult to extinguish with a fire blanket. We, therefore, recommend wet chemicals for deep-fat fryers.
How to UsePlace carefully over the fire. Keep your hands shielded from the fire. Do not waft the fire towards you.
How it WorksSmothers the fire and prevents oxygen from getting to the fire.

2. Hose Reel

Hose Reel - Types of Fire Extinguishers

A hose Reel is an essential piece of equipment used in firefighting. It is designed to hold and store a large amount of hose that can quickly connect to a water source and transfer water from one location to another. Fire hose reels are typically made up of a base, spindle, drum, and support rods. They are typically either electric or manual in operation and come in various sizes, materials, and configurations. The most important feature of a fire hose reel is its ability to be quickly connected to a water source, allowing firefighters to fight fires more effectively and efficiently.

Also, hose reels can be used for other applications such as irrigation, dust suppression, and more. Modern fire hose reels are durable materials designed to last long, even in extreme conditions. With the right maintenance and care, these devices can be used for many years.

When choosing a fire hose reel, it is essential to consider factors such as size, material, design, and function. The size of the hose reel should be large enough to store the amount of hose required for the application. The material used to construct it should be able to withstand high temperatures and pressure, as well as be resistant to corrosion. Additionally, the design should provide a good balance between strength and weight. Lastly, its function should meet the needs of firefighters in terms of speed, reliability, and efficiency.

Best ForFires involving solid organic materials such as wood, cloth, paper, plastics, coal, etc.
DangerDo not use it on burning fat, oil, or electrical appliances before the electric supply has been isolated.
How to UsePoint the jet at the base of the flames and keep it moving across the area of the fire. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out.
How it WorksWater has a great effect on cooling the fuel surfaces and thereby reducing the pyrolysis rate of the fuel.

3. Fire Buckets

Fire Buckets - Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire buckets are a vital part of fire safety. They are used to contain and dispose of any burning material that may be present in the building. The fire bucket is typically filled with sand, water, or a combination of both, and it should be placed near any source of ignition that could create a potential fire hazard. Fire buckets can also extinguish small fires before they spread, reducing the risk of property damage and injury.

Typically, fire buckets are placed at strategic points throughout a building so that in the event of a fire, there is an immediate source of water or other substances to put out the flames quickly. Fire buckets are also sometimes used as part of fire drills and other emergency procedures. This ensures that everyone knows how to respond in a fire. Additionally, readily available fire buckets also ensures that any material-based fires can be quickly and effectively extinguished before further damage occurs.

Fire Buckets A simple bucket of water can be used on Class A type of fires either to supplement a water extinguisher or as a first attack if an extinguisher is not immediately available.

It can also be filled with dry sand and used as an absorbing agent or dam a flow of flammable liquid. They have severe disadvantages as they are often misused, left empty, or allowed to be used as refuse containers.

Best ForWood, Cloth, Paper, Plastics, Coal (if filled with water). Spilled flammable liquids (if filled with sand)
DangerDo not use it on burning fat, oil, or electrical appliances before the electric supply has been isolated.
How to UseThrow at the base of the flames. Ensure that all areas of the fire are out.
How it WorksWater has a significant effect on cooling the fuel surfaces, thereby reducing the fuel pyrolysis rate.

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6 Comments

  1. I liked that you explained that there are many different kinds of fire extinguishers and that it is important to learn how and when to use them individually. I thought that it made sense when you said that a water extinguisher is intended to be used for fires involving organic solid material like wood. I would imagine that using the wrong fire extinguisher would no the beneficial to helping eliminate the fire. I will be sure to learn the proper usage situations for specific extinguishers so that I am prepared for an emergency.
    https://www.eastcoastfire.net/fire-extinguisher1

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