Water fire extinguishers are the original fire extinguisher and are still one of the most used today. Commonly known as ‘Class A’ fire extinguishers, they’re suitable for fires starting from solid flammable materials such as paper, card, wood or textiles.

Do not use water fire extinguishers for:

  • Electrical fires – this is highly dangerous and in the worst case, can result in electrocution
  • Class B Fires – fires from flammable liquids such as petrol and paint.
  • Class C Fires – flammable gas fires such as those caused by methane and butane
  • Class F Fires – cooking fires involving oil and grease

Identifying a Water Fire Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers have a white-coloured label stating ‘WATER’. It should also have a sign above or next to the extinguisher that states ‘Water Extinguisher’.

Water fire extinguishers come in three sizes:

  • 3 litre
  • 6 litre
  • 9 litre

How Water Fire Extinguishers Work

When water comes into contact with the flames, it cools the temperature down dramatically, taking away the heat element required to keep a fire burning. It puts out a Class A fire rapidly and has no impact on the environment. However, a water fire extinguisher can only be used on a Class A fire and must never be used on an electrical fire.

When to Choose a Water Fire Extinguisher

In many business environments, it’s more common to recommend foam extinguishers over water, mostly because foam extinguishers can be used on both Class A and Class B fires. However, on sites which contain large amounts of Class A combustible materials such as paper mills and clothing factories, it may be beneficial to have water fire extinguishers instead.

It is usually best practice to have a CO2 extinguisher alongside a water extinguisher so that electrical fire risk is also covered.

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