Several types of fire extinguishers are available to fight different types of fires. Before attempting to operate any fire extinguisher, know which type of extinguisher to use. You must be able to use the extinguisher in the correct manner and should be trained before attempting to put out fires. Fire extinguishers should be checked regularly to ensure that pressure levels are maintained.
Type A, Water Fire Extinguisher
Water fire extinguishers are for use on combustible materials and are labeled as type A extinguishers. Type A extinguishers are for fires in paper, cloth, wood, rubber and some plastics. These extinguishers provide a cooling, quenching effect
Type B, Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher
Carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are for use on flammable liquid or electrical fires and are labeled as type B. These extinguishers should be used for fires of oil or gasoline and some paints, fats, grease, solvents or other types of flammable liquid. CO2 extinguishers eliminate oxygen to extinguish the fire.
Type C, Dry Chemical Extinguishers
Dry chemical extinguishers are labeled as type C and for use on electrical fires in fuse boxes, wiring and other electrical sources or equipment. It is important to use a type C extinguisher for electrical fires as the chemicals will not conduct electricity. Never use a type A extinguisher on an electrical fire as water is a good conductor of electricity and can cause electrical shocks.
Class K, Dry and Wet Chemical Extinguishers
Class K fire extinguishers are specifically for kitchen fires involving combustible materials such as oil or fat. These should be installed in all applicable commercial kitchens, because of the higher heating rates of vegetable oils. Class K extinguishers contain a variety of wet or dry chemical agents.
Other Fire Extinguishers
It is possible to use multi-purpose dry chemical extinguishers on a range of fires. These extinguishers can be used on types A, B or C fires and will be labeled accordingly. Class D fire extinguishers are specialist extinguishers specifically for combustible metal fires, such as magnesium, titanium or potassium.
- U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Extinguishers Basics
- U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Portable Fire Extinguishers
- Consumer Reports: Home-Use Fire Extinguishers Home-use fire extinguishers are Key Safety Gear
- KidsHealth: Fire Safety
- Apartment Therapy: How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
- U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Evacuation Plans and Procedures: Fight or Flee?