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Fight Fire Like a Pro: The Ultimate Fire Extinguishers Guide

What Is A Fire Extinguisher?

A fire extinguisher is a device designed to control or extinguish small fires. It is a pressurized container filled with an extinguishing agent such as water, foam, dry chemical, carbon dioxide, or halon. When activated, the fire extinguisher releases the agent onto the fire, either smothering it or interrupting the chemical reaction that sustains it. Fire extinguishers come in various types and sizes, each designed to combat specific types of fires. It is vital to have a fire extinguisher readily available in case of a fire emergency and to be trained in its proper use.



What Are The Six Classes Of Fire?

The six classes of fire are:

  1. Class A: Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, and plastics. These types of fires are the most common and can be easily extinguished using water, which cools the fuel below its ignition temperature and helps to prevent re-ignition. o extinguish a Class A fire, the basic approach is to remove the fuel source or cut off the oxygen supply. This can be achieved by smothering the fire with a fire blanket or using a fire extinguisher that contains water or a foam extinguishing agent. It is important to note that water should not be used on Class A fires involving energized electrical equipment or flammable liquids as it can cause electrocution or spread the flames. In these cases, a fire extinguisher that contains a dry chemical or carbon dioxide should be used instead.

  2. Class B: Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and grease. These fires can be very dangerous and can spread quickly if not properly contained or extinguished. Some common examples of Class B fires include fires in vehicles, fuel storage tanks, and chemical plants. These fires can be caused by a variety of sources, such as electrical sparks, overheated equipment, and open flames. When dealing with a Class B fire, it is important to remember to never use water as it can spread the fire. Instead, use an appropriate fire extinguisher that is specifically designed to handle Class B fires, such as a foam or carbon dioxide extinguisher. If the fire is too large to be contained by an extinguisher, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department.

  3. Class C: Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, tools, or other electrical devices that have short-circuited or malfunctioned. These fires can be particularly dangerous because of the risk of electrocution or electrical shock to individuals who try to put out the fire with water. To extinguish a Class C fire, you should use a non-conductive extinguishing agent that is specifically designed for use on electrical fires. Examples include carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers or dry chemical extinguishers. It is important to turn off the electrical source before attempting to extinguish the fire to reduce the risk of electrocution. If the fire is too large or out of control, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department. Remember, safety always comes first, so never attempt to fight a fire if you feel uncomfortable or unsure of what to do.

  4. Class D: Class D fires involve flammable metals, such as magnesium, titanium, and sodium. These types of fires require special precautions and extinguishing agents, as ordinary water-based extinguishers can make the fire worse by causing a violent reaction with the metal. To extinguish a Class D fire, specialized dry powder extinguishing agents are typically used. These agents work by smothering the fire and preventing the metal from reacting with oxygen in the air. Sand or other non-combustible materials can also be used to cover the fire and cut off its oxygen supply. It is important to note that Class D fires can be very dangerous and should only be attempted to be extinguished by trained professionals with the appropriate equipment and protective gear. If you encounter a Class D fire, immediately evacuate the area and call for help.

  5. Class E: Class E fires are those involving flammable gases such as propane, butane, and methane. These fires are highly dangerous as they can spread quickly and easily, and can cause explosions and extensive damage to property and life. The first step in fighting a Class E fire is to shut off the source of gas if it can be done safely. This will help to prevent the fire from growing larger and spreading. It is also important to evacuate the area and call the fire department as soon as possible. Firefighters use special equipment and techniques to extinguish Class E fires. They may use dry chemical extinguishers, which work by smothering the flames and preventing oxygen from reaching the fire. They may also use foam or water-based extinguishers, depending on the specific circumstances of the fire. It is important to remember that Class E fires are highly dangerous and should be left to trained professionals to handle. Trying to put out a Class E fire without the proper equipment and training can result in serious injury or death.

  6. Class F: Fires involving cooking oils and fats are classified as Class F fires. These types of fires typically occur in kitchens and restaurants where cooking with oils and fats is common. Class F fires are considered to be very dangerous because cooking oils and fats can ignite quickly and burn at very high temperatures, making them difficult to extinguish. To help prevent Class F fires, it's important to always be attentive while cooking with oils and fats, and to make sure that the cooking area is clean and free from any flammable materials. Additionally, it's important to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case a fire does occur. f a Class F fire does occur, it's important to never use water to try to extinguish it, as water can cause the fire to spread and make the situation even more dangerous. Instead, use a fire extinguisher designed specifically for Class F fires or use a fire blanket to smother the flames. It's also important to call for emergency services immediately.


fire extinguishers hose reel


What Types Of Fire Extinguishers Are There?

There are several types of fire extinguishers available, classified according to the type of fire they are designed to extinguish. The most common types are:

  1. Water extinguishers are commonly used to extinguish fires that involve solid materials such as paper, wood, and textiles. They work by cooling the fire, which helps to reduce the temperature below its ignition point and ultimately extinguishes the flames. However, it's important to note that water extinguishers should never be used on fires involving electrical equipment or flammable liquids, as the water can conduct electricity and spread the flames. In those cases, it's important to use the appropriate type of fire extinguisher.

  2. Foam extinguishers are a type of fire extinguisher that is specifically designed to put out fires that involve flammable liquids like petrol, diesel, and oil. The foam works by smothering the fire and preventing oxygen from getting to the flames, which extinguishes the fire. Foam extinguishers are often used in settings where flammable liquids are stored or used, such as in factories, workshops, or garages. They are also commonly used in areas where there is a risk of fires involving flammable liquids, such as petrol stations or airports. It's important to note that foam extinguishers are not suitable for use on fires involving electrical equipment or cooking oils, as they can make these fires worse. In those cases, it's best to use a different type of fire extinguisher that is specifically designed for the type of fire in question.

  3. CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguishers are designed to extinguish fires that involve flammable liquids, electrical equipment, and other types of Class B and Class C fires. They work by displacing oxygen from the area around the fire, effectively smothering it and preventing it from spreading. CO2 extinguishers are typically made of steel and contain pressurized carbon dioxide gas. They are easy to identify by their black horn-shaped nozzles and bright red labels or bands. They are commonly used in areas such as laboratories, server rooms, and industrial settings where flammable liquids and electrical equipment are present. It is important to note that CO2 extinguishers are not suitable for all types of fires. They are not recommended for Class A fires, which involve ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper, as they do not cool the burning material and may not completely extinguish the fire. Additionally, CO2 extinguishers can be dangerous in confined spaces, as the displacement of oxygen can lead to asphyxiation. Therefore, it is important to use CO2 extinguishers only in appropriate situations and to follow proper safety procedures when doing so.

  4. Dry powder extinguishers are a type of fire extinguisher that is effective for extinguishing fires involving flammable gases such as propane, butane, and methane, as well as fires involving flammable liquids, such as gasoline or oil. They work by releasing a fine powder that smothers the fire and interrupts the chemical reaction that sustains it. The powder also helps to cool the fire, which can further aid in extinguishing it. Dry powder extinguishers are typically filled with a powder composed of sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, or monoammonium phosphate. These powders are non-conductive and are effective in suppressing fires involving energized electrical equipment as well.

  5. Wet chemical extinguishers are a type of fire extinguisher that are specifically designed to extinguish fires involving cooking oils and fats, also known as Class F fires. The wet chemical agent used in these extinguishers is typically a potassium acetate-based solution that is applied to the burning oil or fat, forming a soapy layer on the surface that cools the fire and prevents re-ignition. Wet chemical extinguishers are commonly found in commercial kitchens and restaurants, where there is a higher risk of fires involving cooking oils and fats. They are often used in conjunction with automatic fire suppression systems, which can quickly detect and suppress a fire before it has a chance to spread. It is important to note that wet chemical extinguishers should only be used on Class F fires involving cooking oils and fats. Using a wet chemical extinguisher on other types of fires, such as electrical fires or flammable liquid fires, could be ineffective or even dangerous. It is important to choose the correct type of fire extinguisher for the specific type of fire and to receive proper training on how to use it safely and effectively.



Don't Wait Until It's Too Late: Knowing When To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Knowing when to use a fire extinguisher is critical in preventing the spread of fires and ensuring the safety of people and property. It's important to understand that not all fires can be extinguished with a fire extinguisher, and attempting to put out a fire with the wrong type of extinguisher can be dangerous.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when determining whether to use a fire extinguisher:

  1. Assess the fire: Before using a fire extinguisher, you should assess the fire to determine if it can be safely extinguished. If the fire is spreading quickly or is taller than you, likely, it has already grown beyond your control, and attempting to extinguish it with a fire extinguisher can put you at risk. In such cases, the best course of action is to evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department. Similarly, fires involving flammable liquids or gases are often more dangerous and can quickly escalate out of control, making them unsuitable for extinguishing with a fire extinguisher. The use of a fire extinguisher in such situations can make the fire worse and cause it to spread further. Therefore, it is essential to assess the fire carefully before attempting to extinguish it using a fire extinguisher. Doing so can help you avoid potential harm and make the best decision on how to respond to the situation at hand.

  2. Choose the right type of extinguisher: Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. There are five main types of fire extinguishers: A, B, E, D, and F. Each is designed to extinguish fires caused by different materials, such as wood, paper, flammable liquids, electrical equipment, and cooking oils. Make sure you have the right type of extinguisher for the type of fire you're dealing with.

  3. Use the PASS method: The PASS method is an easy-to-remember acronym that stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. It's a simple but effective way to use a fire extinguisher in case of a fire. Here are the steps in more detail:

  • Pull the pin: The first step is to pull the pin on the fire extinguisher. This pin is usually located near the handle, and it prevents the extinguisher from being accidentally discharged. To use the fire extinguisher, you need to remove this pin.

  • Aim at the base of the fire: Once the pin is removed, aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire. The base is part of the fire where the fuel source is located, and this is where you want to aim the extinguishing agent to be most effective. Make sure you stand at a safe distance from the fire and aim the extinguisher at the base of the flames, not at the top of the fire.

  • Squeeze the handle: With the nozzle aimed at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle of the extinguisher to release the extinguishing agent. The agent may be a foam, powder, or gas, depending on the type of extinguisher you're using. Keep squeezing the handle until the extinguisher is empty or the fire is fully extinguished.

  • Sweep from side to side: As you release the extinguishing agent, sweep the nozzle from side to side to cover the entire base of the fire. This will help extinguish any remaining flames and prevent the fire from re-igniting. Continue sweeping the nozzle until the fire is fully extinguished.

Remember to always call the fire department immediately and evacuate the area if the fire is too big or spreading too quickly. The PASS method is only effective for small fires that can be safely contained with a fire extinguisher.


4. Have an escape route: Having an escape route planned before attempting to use a fire extinguisher is important for your safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating an escape plan:

  1. Identify all the possible exits: Look for all possible exits in the room or area you are in, including doors, windows, and emergency exits.

  2. Determine the safest exit: Evaluate which exit is the safest to use in case of a fire. Consider factors like distance, obstacles, and potential hazards.

  3. Have a backup plan: Identify a secondary escape route in case the primary one is blocked or unsafe.

  4. Communicate the plan: Make sure everyone in the area knows the escape plan and how to use it.

Remember, if a fire cannot be safely extinguished, do not attempt to do so. Get out of the area as quickly as possible and call the fire department.


In general, it's best to use a fire extinguisher only if you are confident that you can safely extinguish the fire. If you have any doubts, or if the fire is too large or dangerous, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department.


fire extinguishers chart

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