Two fire extinguishers in the old Glasgow Cathedral protecting this ancient medieval landmark against blaze

Top 5 fire extinguisher types for your building

Top 5 fire extinguisher types for your building

According to the UK Fire Extinguisher regulations, all business premises must have two or more Class A fire extinguishers on each floor. Class A fire extinguishers can put out Class A fires, those that involve common solid materials like wood, textiles, and paper. Therefore, you need to ensure you comply with the government’s health and safety regulations and prepare well for the possibility of a fire.


Remember that no one type is a comprehensive solution when choosing a suitable fire extinguisher for your business premises. Let us look at the different fire extinguisher types to help you choose the right ones.

Types of fire extinguishers

1. Water

Water fire extinguishers put out Class A fires in solid combustible materials such as wood, fabric, plastic and paper. The extinguisher sprays a jet of water at the material, soaking it and thus preventing the fire from spreading. Avoid using water fire extinguishers in liquid or electric fires, as they’ll lead to even more hazards.

2. Foam

Foam fire extinguishers put out Class A and B fires. Class B fires are from flammable liquids such as kerosene. The form will cover the liquid, thus cutting off the oxygen supply and killing the fire. In addition, the form will soak into the solid combustible materials, thus stopping the spread of fire. Foam fire extinguishers aren’t suitable for gaseous, electrical or flammable metal fires. The foam acts like water, thus posing additional risks of shocks and other hazards.

3. Dry powder

Dry powder is the most versatile of all fire extinguishers. It’s usable on classes A, B, C, D, and electrical fires. Class C fires involve flammable gases, while class D fires involve combustible metals. The only exception is class F fires, which originate from boiling deep-frying fat. Dry powder forms a coating over the flammable solids, liquids, gases, and electrical components, limiting oxygen to the fire.

4. CO2

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers effectively stop class B and electrical fires. Carbon dioxide displaces oxygen, thus suffocating the fire. However, it can’t adequately soak into flammable solid materials or displace flammable gases. Neither can it seep into flammable metals or hot deep-frying fat.

5. Wet chemical

Wet chemical fire extinguishers are for class A and deep-frying fat fires. The wet chemical contains potassium that cools the fire, thus preventing its spread. Additionally, the potassium salts react with the hot oil through the saponification process, resulting in a non-combustible soapy foam coating on the oil. The dispersal of the wet chemical is gentle, thus preventing more danger from splashing hot oil.

How do you identify the different fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers have different coloured labels to differentiate them:

• Water - red
• Foam - cream
• Dry - blue
• CO2 - black
• Wet chemical - yellow

Ideally, you should locate fire extinguishers in a conspicuous, easy-to-retrieve position with clear fire extinguisher signs.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a transport company

Fire extinguisher signage

Fire extinguisher signage helps to direct attention to the fire extinguisher locations quickly. Adequate fire extinguisher sign warnings are usually prominent and sit on or next to the fire extinguishers. The standard coloured labels on fire extinguishers lack the vividness and immediate impact necessary in an emergency. As such, you should consider investing in custom fire extinguisher signage.

Contents of fire extinguisher signage

Good fire extinguisher signage should be large enough to display information, so it can be read quickly. In addition, it should be brightly coloured while adhering to the classification colour code for fire extinguishers.

Important information on the signage includes:

• Fire extinguisher symbol of a cylinder next to flames
• Coloured bar with the type of fire extinguisher indicated on it
• Specific fires you can put out with this type of extinguisher
• Specific fires you should never attempt to put out using this extinguisher
• Any other relevant warning

We are safety signage specialists who will ensure anyone on your premises quickly grasps essential details about your fire extinguishers. Our custom fire extinguisher signage makes it easy to know what to do in case of a fire. Call us today and we'll help to make your premises safer.

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