fire extinguisher training

Types of fire extinguishers and their uses

Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers? They all serve different purposes and can be used on different types of fire. In this blog, we will review the most common types of extinguishers. We’ll also see which are the best ones for different types of workplaces.

What are the different types of fire extinguishers for?

So what are the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses? The answer is that different types of fire extinguishers are useful for different types of fires. It’s not the same to try to extinguish a fire that started with wood than to extinguish one that started with petrol. 

You can find various types of fire extinguishers, including water, foam, dry powder, CO2 and wet chemical ones.

Foam extinguishers

The most common type of fire extinguisher are foam extinguishers. These are used for fires that have started with a flammable liquid such as petrol, paint or spirits, a combustible material such as wood, paper or textiles or a mixture of both. 

These are water-based extinguishers, so they work well with fires caused by various types of organic materials. 

However, these foam extinguishers shouldn’t be used in kitchen fires or electrical fires.

Water extinguishers

These are also used for organic materials like the ones mentioned above (wood, paper, textiles). Again, they shouldn’t be used in fires in the kitchen or those with electrical equipment. They also shouldn’t be used for fires that started with flammable liquids or gas.

Water extinguishers work by cooling the material that caused the fire in the first place until the flames are extinguished.

Dry powder extinguishers

Dry powder extinguishers are also for fires with flammable liquids and other combustible organic materials, just like foam extinguishers. However, unlike foam extinguishers, dry powder ones can also be used for fires caused by flammable gases like propane and butane and those involving electrical equipment. 

The disadvantages of this type of extinguisher are that they can be easily inhaled, so they shouldn’t be used in closed spaces, and the residue they leave behind can be quite difficult to clean. And as a result of losing visibility when the powder is airborne, it could hinder the time it takes to evacuate the premises.

Wet chemical extinguishers

These are perfect for fires that start with cooking oils such as oil or butter, as they form a barrier around the oil so that the oxygen in the air can’t reach it. These are typically used in commercial kitchens and canteens.

CO2 extinguishers

Carbon dioxide extinguishers are used for electrical fires, so they are necessary for computer server rooms and other facilities that are full of electrical appliances and equipment. 

Which type of extinguisher should I use in an office?

Offices and other business premises and workplaces such as hospitals, schools, warehouses and even residential properties should use water, foam and Co2 extinguishers. These extinguishers are also needed in other buildings made of wood or organic materials.

Where should fire extinguishers be placed in an office?

Fire extinguishers should be next to the exits on the floors that are at a higher risk of fire. 

If your office is spread over several floors and each of them is above 100m2, you need at least two fire extinguishers per level. For smaller floors, you can choose to have just one.

As a rule of thumb, water and foam extinguishers should be within 30m of solid materials and Co2 should be no more than 10 meters away from an electrical appliance.

Fire extinguisher training course for the workplace

It is of the utmost importance that your staff knows how to confidently use fire extinguishers in case of an emergency. Our quick Fire Extinguisher Training Course has been designed to teach staff members and colleagues how to identify various fire types and how to tackle them to prevent a fire from getting out of control. 

The 1-hour course prepares teams to use CO2, water and other extinguishing methods with both a theory and a practical session.

If you have any questions about using fire extinguishers in the workplace or if you’d like to know more about our courses, please get in touch with our friendly team. We’ll be happy to help.