There are 5 main fire extinguisher types:
To ensure you’re adequately protected, and you meet current fire safety regulations, you need to have the right types of fire extinguisher for your business premises.
There are different ‘classes’ of fire, for which each extinguisher is designed to tackle. These classes are based on which fuels a fire starts with. It’s the presence of these fuels within your business premises that will help determine which types of fire extinguisher you need and in which locations.
As well as the right type of fire extinguisher, you’ll also need the right size and weight of each extinguisher. There are six classes of fire in total.
Caused by flammable solids, such as wood, paper, and textiles.
Such as petrol, paint or spirits.
Like propane and butane.
E.g. chemicals such as magnesium, lithium or potassium.
Such as computers and photocopiers. Note though that once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes class
Such as olive oil or butter. Typically a chip-pan fire
Feel free to download and print out our quick reference fire extinguisher type chart:
Water fire extinguishers are the most popular fire extinguisher type and they are suited to class A fire risks. They distribute water at high pressure to extinguish flames. Water fire extinguishers are the most common extinguishers found on premises up and down the UK.
The label colour for Water extinguishers is bright red.
Water fire extinguishers are used for fires caused by textiles, coal, wood, cardboard, paper and fabrics.
Water fire extinguishers should not be used in the following scenarios:
Being the most common fire extinguisher, the water type is used throughout most buildings in the UK. Common buildings that need water fire extinguishers are:
Water fire extinguishers need to be placed next to the exits on floors that have been identified as class A fire risks during your latest first risk assessment.
Foam fire extinguishers are the most common type of extinguisher used for Class B fires. Due to the fact that these fire extinguishers are water-based, they can also be utilized for Class A fires.
The label colour for Foam fire extinguishers is cream.
Much like the water type, Foam fire extinguishers can be used for fires involving organic materials. These organic materials include cardboard, paper, fabrics, wood & coal. In addition to these organic materials, foam extinguishers can also be used on flammable liquids including petrol or paint.
Foam fire extinguishers should not be used in the following scenarios:
Foam fire extinguishers work in two ways. Firstly, they create a cooling effect on the fuel that is responsible for causing the fire. Secondly, when this extinguisher is used on burning liquids, the foaming agent inside the extinguisher (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) creates a barrier between the flames of the fire and the fuel. This ultimately extinguishes the fire.
Foam fire extinguishers are required for buildings where flammable liquids are stored and held. In addition to this, they are also required in buildings where organic materials are found. Common buildings that need foam fire extinguishers are:
Foam fire extinguishers should be stored at exit points where either a class A or class B fire risk has been identified.
Dry powder extinguishers are commonly known as ABC extinguishers as they can be utilized in the event of a class A, B or C fire scenario. However, this type of extinguisher should not be used in an enclosed space. This is because the powder can be easily inhaled and is very difficult to clean up after the fire has been extinguished.
Dry powder extinguishers can be used for fires involving electronic equipment up to 1000v. In addition to this, specialist dry powder extinguishers exist that are suited for fires caused by flammable metals.
The label colour for dry powder fire extinguishers is blue.
The dry powder fire extinguisher has a wide range of use scenarios including the following organic materials:
In addition to the above, they can also be used on flammable gases, such as Liquid Petroleum, electrical equipment and flammable liquids, such as petrol. Specialist dry powder extinguishers are also available that such only be used on flammable metals (such as titanium).
Dry Powder fire extinguishers should not be used in the following scenarios:
Dry Powder fire extinguishers work by separating the fuel of the fire from the oxygen element or by removing the heating element of the fire triangle.
Due to the fact these extinguishers should not be used in an enclosed space, they are mainly recommended for the following types of businesses:
Dry Powder fire extinguishers need to be stored next to the source of the fire risk.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are the primary extinguisher used in extinguishing electrical fires. You will often find CO2 extinguishers in computer server rooms or areas where a large number of electrical devices exist.
The label colour for CO2 fire extinguishers is black.
The CO2 extinguisher can be used to extinguish electrical fires and fires involving flammable liquids such as petrol.
The carbon dioxide extinguisher should not be used in the following scenarios:
This type of fire extinguisher works by suffocating the fire with CO2, causing the oxygen to be displaced and the fire to burn out.
CO2 Fire extinguishers should be used by businesses with electrical equipment. Businesses such as:
CO2 fire extinguishers should be stored next to the source of the fire risk and/or by the nearest fire exits.
Once installed, your fire extinguishers need to be commissioned by law. This means they’ve been thoroughly checked and approved as good for use.
Fire extinguishers are not compliant with UK fire extinguisher legislation until they have been commissioned, even if you have the right types and sizes of extinguishers in the right locations.
Commissioning means checking:
Once these checks have taken place by your BusinessWatch engineer, you will receive a certificate verifying that your extinguishers have been commissioned in accordance with UK regulations.
If you have any questions about the different types of fire extinguishers in the UK, then please just get in touch – we’ll be more than happy to help.
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We have two guides available completely free of charge to help ensure your business is fire safe.
Will answer all your questions on the process of installing a fire alarm system, guiding you down the right path to protecting your business and employees, and complying with fire safety legislation.
This guide will establish exactly what your responsibilities are to ensure you’re kept on the right side of the law, and that your business and your employees are kept as safe as possible from the threat of fire.Download
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