What’s Good to Know About Fire Extinguishers

regular inspection of fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers play a vital role to prevent a small fire from becoming big and leading to burned buildings or even people. Knowing how to use fire extinguishers can help prevent those circumstances. However, even if you know how to use a fire extinguisher, are you aware of its different types? If you’re putting off a fire using the wrong type of fire extinguisher, it may lead to a bigger problem – it’s possible that the fire will be bigger. Let us help you be aware of the different types of fire extinguishers.

What Is a Fire Extinguisher?

It is a portable fire protection device that allows you to put out a small fire by aiming its cooling substance at the burning material. It is a small tank made with compressed gas that is released through a nozzle.

What Are the Different Types of Fire Extinguishers?

Types of fire extinguishers are classified by the type of fire they are meant to extinguish. Here is a fire and fire extinguisher type chart with examples listed.

Category Purpose Examples
A Ordinary Materials Paper, Wood and Cardboard
B Combustible and Flammable Gasoline, Grease or Oil
C Electrical Equipment Electrical Appliances, Outlets, and Breakers
D Flammable Metals Magnesium, Potassium, Titanium
K Commercial Cooking Equipment Cooking Oils and Animal Fats utilized in commercial cooking appliances


Class A – as mentioned in the above details, it refers to ordinary materials such as paper, wood, and cardboard.

Class B – Though it clearly mentioned that it is suitable for combustible and flammable materials, using a fire extinguisher is not the first step in extinguishing Class B fires. Ensuring that the fuel source is shut off should be done first. Do not attempt to extinguish the fire if you are not sure that the fuel source is shut off. If you decide to extinguish the fire while the fuel source is still open, the unburned gas will only escape and accumulate into the atmosphere, which may result in an explosion if ignited.

Class C - Electrical equipment is everywhere – in the home, in commercial facilities, in factories, and more. You may want to consider having this type of extinguisher at your disposal.

Class D – Though this is intended for flammable metals; there are some common extinguishing agents that may react with the metal, thus causing an increase in the fire. In case of an emergency and you are not confident that you have the right extinguishing agent, another alternative to extinguish the fire is to cover it with sand. If combustible metals are common to your area or environment, we suggest contacting Fire Prevention Services offices for a consultation to learn the proper type and amount of extinguishing agent.

Class K – As indicated on the chart, this type of extinguisher is common for commercial use related to cooking, such as restaurants or cafes. These are the common examples of facilities that use a large amount of oil and animal fats.

Knowing the details provided, let’s keep in mind that knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is not enough. We should also know the different types of fire extinguishers and when to use them. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher is not a good way of helping because it might make the situation worse - like risking someone’s life. Always learn to use the right tool because it may save someone’s life.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.