The Different Types of Fire Extinguishers and How They Work


  • Class A fire extinguishers use carbon dioxide to put out fires that involve combustible materials such as paper or wood
  • Class B fire extinguishers use a foam or powder agent to put out fires that involve flammable liquids
  • Class C fire extinguishers use water to put out fires that involve energized electrical equipment
  • ABC powder is the only dry chemical agent classified as a Class A fire extinguisher
  • Water mist fire extinguishers release deionized water in a fine mist that deprives a fire of oxygen
  • Wet chemical fire extinguishers use wet potassium acetate to create a cooling effect while also suffocating the fire

Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers? And did you also know that each type of extinguisher works in a different way to put out a fire?

In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of fire extinguishers and how they work. We will also provide tips on how to choose the right extinguisher for your needs.

What are different types of fire extinguishers and how they work

Different types of fire extinguishers are designed to fight different kinds of fires.

  • The most common type of fire extinguisher is the water extinguisher, which is effective against fires involving wood, paper, and textile.
  • Foam extinguishers are effective against flammable liquids, such as petrol and oil.
  • CO2 extinguishers are effective against electrical fires, as they do not conduct electricity.
  • Powder extinguishers are effective against all types of fire, but they should only be used in enclosed spaces due to the risk of inhaling the powder.
  • Water mist and wet chemical extinguishers are effective against cooking oil fires.

How to choose the right extinguisher for your needs

When choosing a fire extinguisher, you need to consider the type of fire that you are likely to encounter.

For example, if you are likely to encounter electrical fires, then you should choose a CO extinguisher. If you are likely to encounter flammable liquid fires, then you should choose a foam extinguisher.

If you are unsure of the type of fire that you are likely to encounter, then you should choose a powder extinguisher because it is effective against all types of fire.

What are the classes of fire extinguishers?

The fire classification system categorizes fires by the type of fuel involved. There are different types of fires. Each type is represented by a letter of the alphabet and an icon. Electrical fires are not included in this. In the event of a fire, it allows people to select an appropriate fire extinguisher.

  1. Class A extinguishers are designed for use on ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, paper, or cloth.
  2. Class B extinguishers are designed for use on flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, or grease.
  3. Class C extinguishers are designed for use on flammable gases like methane and propane.
  4. Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals.
  5. Class F extinguishers are designed for use on cooking fires.
  6. Electrical fires require a Class C fire extinguisher because water can conduct electricity and make the situation worse.

The other classes of fire extinguishers work by smothering the fire with an agent that cuts off the oxygen supply. Class A extinguishers use water, Class B extinguishers use dry chemical or foam, Class D extinguishers use dry powder, and Class F extinguishers use wet chemical.

When using a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:

P – Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally activated.

A – Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.

S – Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.

S – Sweep from side to side until the fire is extinguished.

Once the fire is out, monitor the area in case of re-ignition and call the fire department to inspect the area. Do not use water on an electrical fire, as this will make the situation worse. For a cooking fire, smother the flames with a wet chemical extinguisher or baking soda.

How I learned about fire extinguishers

My aunt was a hoarder. Not in the traditional sense, where she would just stack up old newspapers and empty cans in her garage.

Oh, no. She was a hoarder in the sense that she collected things. Literally everything. Dishes, clothes, jewelry, furniture, electronics, you name it, she had it.

And if she didn’t have it, she would find a way to get it.

Her house was constantly cluttered and crammed full of stuff. There was barely any room to walk and even less room to breathe.

The stench of rotting food and dirty laundry permeated the air and made it difficult to stay in the house for more than a few minutes at a time.

Adding to the fire hazard, my aunt routinely left candles burning when she left the house or went to bed.

We knew that one day the house would catch on fire and we would lose her and everything she had worked so hard to accumulate over the years. So, we stocked her house with fire extinguishers. At least, we tried to.

My aunt was notoriously stubborn and refused to let us put them up or even show her how to use them.

The inevitable finally happened one day when my aunt was out of town visiting family. A candle caught on some curtains and before we knew it, the whole house was engulfed in flames.

We managed to get all of the extinguishers out of the house but it was too late. The damage had been done.

The firefighters were able to save most of my aunt’s belongings but they were all ruined by water damage from putting out the fire. The hoarder cleanup process is expensive and took months and cost thousands of dollars. But at least my aunt and her belongings were safe.

Eugene Duke Pic

Hi, my name’s Eugene Duke and I love sitting by my fireplace reading a book and sipping on an adult beverage. Do you have a fireplace in your house? I’ll help you figure out the best type and style of fireplace for your home.


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