Fire safety plans more often than not include the use of fire extinguishers, but most people are shocked to learn that there isn’t just one type of fire extinguisher.

There are five main types of fire extinguisher because fires can be started by different fuels (referred to as classes), and not every extinguisher puts out every type of fire.

It’s vital to have the right type (or types) of fire extinguishers in your workplace, and the knowledge to use them effectively.

This is so you meet regulations and protect yourself and your team from creating a bigger hazard by using the wrong type of extinguisher on a fire.

We’ll explore the different types of fire extinguishers and fire classes, which will show you why fire extinguisher training should be mandatory for all your employees, not just those undertaking fire warden and fire safety officer training.

Types of Fire Extinguisher

These are the 5 primary types of fire extinguisher:

  • Foam
  • Water
  • Wet Chemical
  • Carbon Dioxide (‘CO2’)
  • Dry Powder → Standard

Multipurpose/High performance

There are technically 6 types of fire extinguisher, because of the two different types of Dry Powder extinguisher.

For this blog, however, we’ll be treating them as part of one type.

This graphic describes the different types of extinguisher, and shows which class(es) of fire they are suited for:

Classes of Fire

Each class of fire refers to the type of fuel that causes the fire’s ignition.

These classes allow you to understand which types of fire extinguishers you need in your workplace, depending on which of the hazards are present and posing a fire risk.

  • Class A: combustible materials (flammable solids) like paper, fabric and wood
  • Class B: flammable liquids like paint, turpentine and petrol
  • Class C: flammable gases like methane, butane or hydrogen
  • Class D: combustible metals (chemicals) like potassium, magnesium or aluminium
  • Electrical fires: electrical equipment (The fire will change class when the electrical item is taken away)
  • Class F: cooking oils

It’s crucial that the right fire extinguisher is used for the class of fire, otherwise you’re risking re-ignition and further damage.

The source of the blaze may seem to have been extinguished, creating an even more unsafe environment.

Fire safety plans may include the information on which types of extinguisher are present, but only the staff that have undertaken fire safety courses will know which classes of fire they can be used on.

So, while fire extinguisher training is not mandatory for all employees, we do recommend it for this reason.

It’s another way to ensure your staff are prepared for an emergency, and this important skill could save a life if disaster strikes.

Talk to one of our friendly team about organising fire extinguisher training at your workplace today.