Blake Fire and Security Systems

Definitive Guide To Fire Extinguisher Types, What They Do & How To Use Them

Date: 23 August 2017

This guide includes:

In a rush? We've got you covered! Just use the jump links below to skip to the specific Fire Extinguisher types:

  1. Water Jet Extinguisher
  2. Water Spray Extinguisher
  3. Dry Water Mist Extinguisher
  4. Multi Purpose Powder Extinguisher
  5. Special Powder Extinguisher (L2)
  6. Foam Extinguisher
  7. CO2 Extinguisher
  8. Wet Chemical Extinguisher

Breaking down the Fire Extinguisher types

Fire Extinguisher Types & Fire Classes

Water 'Jet' Extinguisher - WHITE TEXT ON RED LABEL

Class A Fire Extinguisher for: Organic solid matter, such as paper, plastic, coal, cloth or Water Fire Extinguisher.jpgwood.

WARNING: Do not use on burning oil or fat in a kitchen fire or on electrical appliances.

How it works: The water cools the surface of the organic solid matter and reduces the pyrolisis (burning) rate of the fuel, eventually putting the fire out.

How to use a Water Fire Extinguisher: Point the jet (nozzle) at the base of the flames, squeeze the lever to release the water and spray in a sweeping motion over the fire.

Water 'Spray' Extinguisher - WHITE TEXT ON RED LABEL

Class A Fire Extinguisher for: Organic solid matter, such as paper, plastic, coal, cloth or Water Spray Fire Extinguisher.jpgwood.

WARNING: Do not use on burning oil or fat in a kitchen fire or on electrical appliances

How it works: The large spray nozzle creates a higher pressure when the liquid is ejected. This results in a a fine spray - offering a significantly improved firefighting ability due to the increased distribution of the water when ejected.

How to use a Water Spray Fire Extinguisher: Point the jet (nozzle) at the base of the flames, squeeze the lever to release the water and spray in a sweeping motion over the fire.

'Dry' Water Mist Extinguisher - RED TEXT ON WHITE LABEL

Used for: A broad spectrum of fires such as class A, B, C and F rated risks (see fire class Water Mist Fire Extinguisher.jpggraphic at the top of the page).

In addition, models that have undergone dielectric testing to 35k Volts can be safely used on electrical fires up to 1000 Volts if a safety distance of 1m is adhered to. The dry water mist, consisting of de-ionised water, doesn't conduct electricity and the dry water solution does not form puddles which could conduct electricity.

WARNING: Do not use on class D fires containing flammable metals.

How it works: The water is transformed into microscopic particles when ejected from the nozzle and, when directed at a fire, effectively cools and suffocates it. Water mist extinguishers also create a cooling barrier between the user and the fire which eliminates some of the heat.

How to use a Water Mist Fire Extinguisher: Point the jet (nozzle) at the base of the flames, squeeze the lever to release the water and spray in a sweeping motion over the area of the fire.

Powder Extinguisher (Multi-purpose) - WHITE TEXT ON BLUE LABEL

Used for: A broad spectrum of fires such as class A, B, C and E rated risks (see fire class Powder Fire Extinguisher.jpggraphic at the top of the page).

WARNING: Do not use within enclosed spaces OR on Class F fires containing flammable cooking oils and deep fat fryers.

Although powder extinguishers are recommended for electrical equipment, there is a danger of inhalation and impaired vision if powder extinguishers are used within buildings.

How it works: The anti-thermal powder cools the flames down until the temperature is too low for the chemical reaction to continue. Powder extinguishers provide rapid fire suppression but aren't great at putting it out for good. Be sure to pay close attention to the fire in case it starts up again.

How to use a Multi-purpose Powder Extinguisher: Point the jet (nozzle) or discharge horn at the base of the flames and, with a rapid sweeping motion, release the water and powder. Wait until the powder has settled and you have clear vision before attacking the fire again. Ventilate the room as quickly as possible afterwards.

Special Powder Extinguisher (L2)- WHITE TEXT ON BLUE LABEL

Class D Fire Extinguisher for: Flammable metals such as magnesium, lithium and aluminium when in the form of swarf or powder.

There are 3 Special Powder Extinguisher variations containing:Monnex Special Powder Fire Extinguisher.jpg

  • Graphite
  • Copper
  • Sodium Chloride

WARNING: Do not allow water to come into contact with the burning metal AND do not use a Sodium Chloride special powder extinguisher on Lithium fires OR live electrical fires - Graphite or Copper variations should be used instead.

How it works: The anti-thermal powder cools the flames down until the temperature is too low for the chemical reaction to continue. Powder extinguishers provide rapid fire suppression but may not keep the fire extinguished - so pay attention after the initial blaze has gone out.

How to use a Special Powder Extinguisher: The lance allows the user to fight the fire from a safer distance. This extinguisher also contains a low velocity applicator which reduces the power from the jet, allowing the foam to gently be dispersed. The method of application is vastly different from a multi-purpose powder extinguisher and user training is required.

Foam Extinguisher - RED TEXT ON CREAM LABEL Foam Fire Extinguisher.jpg

Used for: Class A fires involving solid matter and class B fires containing burning liquids.

WARNING: Do not use on class F fires containing combustible cooking oils.

How it works: The formula is mainly water based but contains a foaming agent so that it can float on top of burning liquids and suffocate them.

How to use a Foam Extinguisher: For fires involving solids, point the jet (nozzle) at the base of the flame and move in swift back and forth motions. For fires including liquids, DO NOT point the jet directly into the burning liquid - this could cause it to splash and spread the fire. Instead, aim the nozzle towards the edge of the fire and let the foam solution disperse. The same rule applies if the burning liquid is inside a container - aim the nozzle towards the edge of the container to avoid splash-back.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher - WHITE TEXT ON BLACK LABEL

Used for: Class E live electrical fires and sometimes class B flammable liquids.co2 Fire Extinguisher.jpg

WARNING: Do not use on class F fires containing combustible cooking oils. This type of extinguisher does not cool the fire well, so watch out for re-ignition. CO2 extinguishers can asphyxiate if used in confined spaces. Ensure you ventilate the room as soon as possible once the fire is extinguished. In addition, you must use a frost-free horn as the gas becomes extremely cold when released and could potentially freeze your hand to the horn!

How it works: The CO2 attacks the oxygen that is fueling the fire. However, once the CO2 has dispersed and the oxygen can return to the area, the fire may ignite again.

How to use a CO2 Extinguisher: The discharge horn should be placed towards the base of the flames and the jet moved back and forth in a sweeping movement.

Wet Chemical Extinguisher - RED TEXT ON YELLOW LABEL

Used for: Class F fires containing cooking oils and fats such as lard, olive oil and butter.Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher.jpg

WARNING: Do not use on class B fires containing flammable liquids such as petrol.

How it works: Most Wet Chemical Extinguishers use a mixture of alkali solutions, such as potassium acetate, potassium citrate and potassium bicarbonate, which transform the oil and fat into soap by chemical reaction.

How to use a Wet Chemical Extinguisher: Use the long applicator to stand at a safe distance and use small, gently controlled circular movements over the pan until the surface of the burning pan has a soapy consistency and all flames have been extinguished.

Please note: This is a general guide and you should seek professional advice from an accredited Fire & Security company, like us! After reading this guide, call us on 01702 447800 to speak to a member of our team.

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This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Call Blake's on 01702 447800 to speak to one of our professionals for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

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