Know your fire extinguishers

There seem to be many different types of fire extinguisher and it’s important to know which one to use in the event of a fire. For Gloucester fire risk assessment, visit Here is a quick reminder of which ones perform which function:

CO2 – this stands for Carbon Dioxide and are the only recommended extinguishers for use on electrical equipment that is on fire. CO2 is safe to use on electrics as the foam is not sticky or powdery and isn’t conductive. They can also be used on flammable liquids that have caught fire. These extinguishers are red with a black band stating CO2 in white. They have a distinctive black horn-shaped nozzle and it is advised never to hold this nozzle while operating the extinguisher as ice can form and freeze your skin.

Water – this has long been our best deterrent against fire throughout human history and these extinguishers can be used on ordinary combustible fires such as those involving paper, wood, furniture and fabrics. The device is solid red. Water should not be used on fires involving electrical components or flammable liquids.

Dry Powder – these are great all-rounders and particularly useful in the home or the car. They are red with a blue panel. They are also suitable for electrical fires. It is advisable not to use them in small spaces as the powder can cause a cloud which obscures vision and could cause respiratory problems. The powder acts by forming a blanket over the flames and smothering it.

Know your fire extinguishers

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Wet Chemical – these are relatively new and are for use on deep fat cooking fires. The extinguishers are red with a yellow panel. Other extinguishers are pointless in a fat fire as they cannot cool the oil which can burn up to 340 degrees. These are for use in all catering facilities. Although the device cannot be used on electrical equipment, obviously a kitchen environment is full of such equipment so the wet chemical extinguisher contains ingredients that are not conductive.

Foam – these are one of the best all-rounders and red with a cream panel. They are filled with Aqueous Film Forming Foam which smothers the flames and seals in harmful vapours. Foam is effective on paper, wood and man-made furnishings but can also be used on flammable liquid fires as the foam forms a film that stops re-ignition by sealing liquids away from the oxygen in the air.

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