Fire Extinguisher Colours
Six classes of fire exist today, and to make this easy a chart was created in order to tell the difference between each. The chart uses fire extinguisher colours, and for each class of fire, different types of fire extinguishers are required to combat them. Fire extinguishers are colour coded to differentiate them from each other. It is absolutely vital that the correct fire extinguisher is used for each type of fire. This guide will go over the different types of UK fire extinguisher colours and uses for each of them. Knowing the fire extinguisher colours and how to correctly use them is an important aspect of fire safety.
The Five Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are five main kinds of fire extinguishers in the UK: water, dry powder, foam, carbon dioxide (CO2), and wet chemical. For the fire extinguisher types, colours are designated to each one depending on its purpose.
Red is for water extinguishers (there are two types of water fire extinguishers: water mist and water spray). Blue is for dry powder extinguishers. Cream is for the foam fire extinguisher. Black is for the carbon dioxide extinguisher. Yellow is for the wet chemical fire extinguisher. As implied by their different materials, each fire extinguisher has a different purpose. For example, foam extinguishers are best used for organic solid or flammable liquid fires.
The colour-coded system makes it easy for ordinary people to use the right type of fire extinguisher on the right type of fire.
Each type of fire extinguisher serves a different purpose. Today, all fire extinguishers have red or chrome bodies. To differentiate between types of fire extinguisher, colour codes are displayed on a band near the top of the extinguisher. Until 1997, certain types of fire extinguisher were identified with the colour of the body.
For example, wet chemical extinguishers were completely yellow. This changed with the British Standard and European Standard BS EN3, which decided that the body of the fire extinguisher for all types should be red to make them easier to identify in a dark or smoky environment. However, the colour codes are still easily visible to fire extinguisher users when under the pressure of deciding which type of extinguisher to use on a fire.
Classes of Fires
Each fire extinguisher is colour-coded to extinguish different classes of fire. Different types of fires are as follows: Classes A, B, C, D, F, and electrical fires. Each class refers to a different flammable material.
For class A fires, red water, blue dry powder, cream foam, or yellow wet chemical fire extinguishers should be used, depending upon what is on fire. Class A fires refer to fires involving organic solids like paper, straw, and plastics. For class B fires, blue dry powder, cream foam, or black CO2 extinguishers should be used. Class B fires refer to fires involving class B flammable liquid and electrical fires.
For class C fires, blue, dry powder extinguishers should be used. Class C fires refer to fires involving organic solids and flammable liquid, like petrol and methane. For class D fires, blue, dry powder extinguishers should be used. Class D fires refer to fires involving organic solids and flammable liquid. Dry powder extinguishers should not be used on electrical equipment fires over 1,000 volts.
For class F fires, yellow, wet chemical extinguishers should be used. Class F fires refer to fires caused by cooking oils and fats. Many types of fires can be put out with different fire extinguishers. Depending on the class of fire and what exactly is on fire (flammable gases, flammable liquids, kitchen fires, wood paper, cooking oil, liquids, deep fat, paper wood, or general combustible materials), you can look at the fire extinguisher label colours to determine which fire extinguisher colour to use.
What type of extinguisher you use depends on the class of fire and the fire risk associated with the situation. It’s important to know the fire extinguishers’ colours and what they mean when learning fire safety. Each different fire extinguisher has a different purpose. For fire extinguishers registered in England and Wales, you can expect to follow the colour guide detailed above. Once you memorize the classes of fire as well as the appropriate colour of fire extinguisher to match, you’ll be one step closer to safety if you encounter a fire.