Different Fire Extinguisher Types Explained

Whether you’re working in a busy kitchen or an industrial building, a fire extinguisher can be a lifesaving piece of equipment – but they can also be dangerous, serving to exacerbate the problem if you don’t use the correct kind of fire extinguisher in the right environment and on the right kind of fire.

Because this knowledge is so crucial to fire safety in all premises, we’ve compiled a list of fire extinguisher types and offered up a handy guide to each so that you can be sure you have the right fire equipment in your building, should the worst ever happen.


Water extinguishers are ideal for material fires (Class A fires), and are particularly suitable for fabric, wood and paper – fire that is burning freely. They are the most widely used type of fire extinguishers and are found in offices, warehouses and shops.  It is very important to remember that they aren’t suitable for liquid fires or where electricity is involved, because water conducts electricity and could result in the operator receiving an electric shock, making the situation even worse.


Foam extinguishers are mostly found in petrol stations and factories. The foam smothers the fire and starves it of oxygen which calms it down and gets rid of the flames. They can be used on wood, flammable liquids and soft furnishings. Although they can be used on electrical items, it is worth noting that they will cause irreversible damage to any items that itcomes into contact with.

Carbon Dioxide

CO2 extinguishers are most suited for dealing with electrical fires and flammable gases, so are widely kept in offices and schools. Although they can tackle a fire very effectively, they can potentially be very harmful if used improperly. They release carbon dioxide which will reduce the oxygen supply of a room – this can be dangerous especially if used in a confined space.

Dry Powder

Powdered fire extinguishers are a very versatile type, so can be used to put out liquid, paper, electric and wood fires. This means they are ideal for environments where there are multiple different risks to factor in. The powder stops the chemical reaction inside the fire which stops it from spreading.

Wet Chemical

This type of fire extinguisher is needed in any kitchen where cooking oil or fat are used in high quantities, so a restaurant or commercial kitchen can’t be without one. They deal with Class F fires, which are specialist burning fat or oil related.

Having this knowledge and information at hand is extremely helpful – and possibly even life-saving – when faced with a fire. As there are different options and varieties to consider when tacking a fire, being clued up on which fire extinguisher to use and how to use it is very important.

Here at Cheshire Fire, it’s our job to keep you safe and teach you about the correct and incorrect uses of a fire extinguisher. If you’ve got any questions or want to know more about what we do, give us a call on 0800 859 5998 today.