A Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Fire Extinguishers in the UK


Fire safety is a critical concern in the United Kingdom, and understanding the various types of fire extinguishers is an essential aspect of fire prevention and preparedness. In the UK, fire extinguishers are categorised based on the types of fires they can effectively combat. Here is a comprehensive overview of the different types of fire extinguishers available in the UK and their specific applications.

Water Extinguishers (Class A)

Water extinguishers are designed for tackling Class A fires, which involve common combustibles such as wood, paper, and textiles. They work by cooling the fire and removing the heat element, effectively extinguishing it. These extinguishers should not be used on electrical fires or flammable liquids.

Foam Extinguishers (Class A and B)

Foam extinguishers are versatile and suitable for both Class A and Class B fires. Class B fires involve flammable liquids like petrol, oil, and solvents. The foam forms a blanket over the fire, cutting off the oxygen supply and preventing re-ignition. However, they should not be used on electrical fires.

Powder Extinguishers (Class A, B, and C)

Powder extinguishers are effective against fires involving Class A, B, and C materials. Class C fires involve flammable gases. Powder extinguishers work by smothering the fire, disrupting the chemical reaction that sustains it. While versatile, they can create a significant mess and reduce visibility when used indoors.

CO2 Extinguishers (Class B and Electrical)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are ideal for Class B fires (flammable liquids) and electrical fires. CO2 is a clean agent that does not leave residue, making it suitable for use around electrical equipment. It works by displacing oxygen and suffocating the fire.

Wet Chemical Extinguishers (Class F)

Wet chemical extinguishers are designed for Class F fires, which involve cooking oils and fats. These extinguishers contain a specialised solution that cools the hot oil and reacts with it to form a layer, preventing reignition. They are commonly found in commercial kitchens.

Specialised Extinguishers

In addition to the standard fire extinguisher types, there are specialised extinguishers like Class D (for metal fires) and Class K (for kitchen fires). These are less common and are typically found in industrial or commercial settings.

Multi-Purpose ABC Fire Extinguishers

Multi-purpose ABC fire extinguishers are versatile options that can handle a variety of fire types, including Class A, B, and C fires. They contain a dry chemical powder that is effective in smothering the fire. They are often found in homes and small businesses for their convenience.

Maintenance and Compliance

To ensure the effectiveness of fire extinguishers, regular maintenance is essential. In the UK, fire extinguishers must be serviced annually by a certified professional. Additionally, businesses are required to have fire risk assessments and ensure their fire safety equipment complies with British Standards.

Understanding the different types of fire extinguishers available in the UK is crucial for effective fire safety planning. Each type is designed for specific fire classes, and using the wrong extinguisher can be dangerous. Whether in your home or workplace, having the right fire extinguisher and knowing how to use it can make a significant difference in fire prevention and response, potentially saving lives and property.

Find out more about our Fire Extinguisher supply, installation and servicing solutions.

To discuss which fire extinguisher(s) is right for you and your business, give First Call Fire a call today on 01995 61999 or get in touch with us by email via our contact form

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