Many people believe that there is only one type of fire extinguisher. However, there are a total of 5 fire extinguisher types. Knowing the different types of fire extinguisher is the first step in learning about the multifaceted tool.
This article will cover the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses, including foam extinguishers, CO2 extinguishers, water extinguishers, powder extinguishers, and wet chemical extinguishers.
Each extinguisher works with a different class or multiple classes of fires. Fire classes range from class A, class B, class C, class D, class F, and electrical fires.
Fire extinguishers themselves are even colour coded to help you figure out which extinguisher to use for which situation. For example, a red-labelled fire extinguisher is a water extinguisher, and it is best used for class A fires. A blue-labelled fire extinguisher is a dry powder extinguisher, and it is best used for multiple classes of fires, and so on for each type.
What Are the 5 Types of Fire Extinguishers?
Dry Powder Extinguishers
Dry powder extinguishers have a multitude of advantages since they are made to be multi-purpose tools. This type of extinguisher is one of the most commonly owned types.
This fire extinguisher sprays a fine chemical powder made of mostly monoammonium phosphate, which suffocates a fire.
Powder extinguishers are most commonly used for class A, class B, and class C fires. Powder is not an electrical conductor, meaning that it can more easily break up reactions in liquid or gas fires than other fire extinguishers.
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers
The carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher is a convenient fire-fighting option as it doesn’t leave any residue after use, therefore requiring no cleanup afterwards.
This type of extinguisher does exactly what the name implies- extinguishes CO2. It does this by removing oxygen from a fire, suffocating it.
CO2 extinguishers are most commonly used for class B fires involving flammable liquids as well as electrical fires.
Wet Chemical Extinguisher
The wet chemical fire extinguisher is specifically made for class F fires. These are a type of fire involving cooking oils and fats. These fires can sometimes take place in deep fat fryers or pan fires.
Wet chemical extinguishers’ ingredients are made up off potassium that efficiently fights these types of fires. Initially, the mist sprayed by this type of extinguisher cools the fire down. Then, a chemical reaction takes place with the solution of the extinguisher and the cooking material. This creates a thick substance that seals the liquid’s surface to prevent it from igniting again.
The wet chemical fire extinguisher is perfect to have in a kitchen for this class of fire. In addition to being effective for class F fires, this extinguisher has proven to get results on class A fires as well.
Water Fire Extinguishers
Water extinguishers are arguably the most versatile of all fire extinguishers. They use new technology that enables this extinguisher to be able to work across most of the main types of fire.
Water mist extinguishers work with tiny water molecules that fight fires on many levels. When such a great amount of water is released in a foggy form, the amount of oxygen in the air surrounding the fire decreases, which in turn suffocates the fire somewhat.
The water particles go towards the fire and cool it down, effectively decreasing the overall temperature. Because water mist extinguishers function to de-ionize water as they work, this type of extinguisher can also be used on electrical fires and fires involving burning gases or liquids. This is because de-ionized water won’t become a conductor.
Foam Fire Extinguisher
Foam fire extinguishers are made for class A fires and the flammable liquids included in class B fires. However, they are not to be used for flammable gas fires.
These extinguishers spray out a foam that expands once it reaches the air and acts as a blanket for the fire. This blanket keeps certain vapours from rising from the liquid that would further ignite the fire. This starves the fire’s fuel source. Since the foam is also combined with water, it cools the fire down as well.
Foam extinguishers are most commonly used for flammable liquid fires, like fires involving gasoline. However, they can be used on Class A fires involving materials such as wood.