We know how confusing buying the correct fire extinguisher can be with such a large amount of conflicting information online, so we’ve made it simple for you to decide.
Please note that this information is specific to our range of fire extinguishers, manufactured by Jewel Saffire.
We supply five main types of extinguisher – CO2, powder, foam, water and wet chemical. You need the right extinguisher to suit your specific site needs and to meet current regulations. Having the correct extinguisher, alongside other factors, is dependent on the type of fuel the fire could use and which class it fits into. Below we have detailed information on each extinguisher type, including their strengths and weaknesses, and on which certifications your extinguisher may need.
|Extinguisher Type||Class A|
(Deep Fat Fryers)
The CO2 extinguisher is ideal for tackling Class B (flammable liquid) fires and is the most effective way of extinguishing electrical fires. As the gas leaves no residue, there is no need for clean-up and importantly doesn’t damage electrical equipment. The CO2 suffocates the fire by displacing oxygen in the air, interrupting the combustion reaction. Please be aware, there is still a chance that a fire can reignite if its cause has not been addressed – e.g. electrical equipment should be switched off. CO2 extinguishers must not be used on deep fat fryers as the strong jet of gas can cause the burning fat to violently stray into the room. Identifiable by a black label, CO2 fire extinguishers should be located near to fire risks (e.g. server rooms, offices) and by exits to a building.
The ABC dry powder extinguisher is suitable for fighting Class A (combustible material), Class B (flammable liquid) and Class C (flammable gas) fires. It is a cheap, diverse and reliable piece of equipment, putting out fires by forming a barrier between fuel and oxygen. However, it is no longer allowed under the British Standard in offices, accommodation or confined areas as its discharge causes low visibility and potential breathing difficulties. The mess it causes can also be difficult to clean up, especially around electronics and soft furnishings. Similar to the CO2 fire extinguisher, the powder variant does not have a cooling affect – you must be careful ensuring the fire does not reignite. Identifiable by a blue label, powder extinguishers are suited to vehicles and outdoor areas.
The foam extinguisher is mainly designed to be used on Class B (flammable liquid) fires, but is also suited to tackling Class A (combustible material) fires. On Class B fires, foam extinguishes flames by forming a physical barrier between the air and the fuel, interrupting the combustion reaction. The foam is also absorbed by porous materials, having cooling effect due to the water-based nature of the extinguishing agent – re-ignition is unlikely. The foam extinguisher is suited to most environments with almost every building requiring one, e.g. hospitals, schools and offices. The best place to put a foam extinguisher is by the exits of a building and next to the fire risk itself, this could be where flammable liquids are stored. Distance must be kept from electrical equipment if the extinguisher has not passed the dielectric test. Identifiable by the cream label.
Water fire extinguishers excel at putting out indoor Class A (combustible material) fires. Burning paper, wood, coal and textiles are all examples of Class A fires. Water soaks the materials, having a cooling effect, which prevents the spread of flames and extinguishes the blaze. As an extinguishing agent, water is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, meaning little clean up is required after discharge. Water extinguishers should not be used on Class D fires as it violently reacts with many flammable metals. They are also not suitable for electrical fires as water can carry electrical charge – there is a danger of electrocution. Water can freeze in low temperatures, rendering your safety equipment useless; keep in mind you may need a cabinet to protect against the elements if stored outside. Easily identifiable by their bright red labels, water fire extinguishers should be placed near fire risks and the exits of almost any building.
Wet chemical extinguishers are specifically designed to fight Class F (oil and fat) fires and can also be used on Class A (combustible material) fires. Potassium salts in the wet chemical agent react with burning lipids to produce a non-combustible soapy film which covers the fats and oils. The fire is starved of oxygen. As a very fine mist is discharged from the extinguisher, the fire is cooled. If other extinguishers are used on Class F fires, the oils and fats are sprayed out of their containers, spreading the fire. Identifiable by their yellow label, these extinguishers should be placed in close proximity to commercial cooking equipment such as deep fat fryers. Good examples of a premises that may need this extinguisher are burger vans, restaurants and fast food shops. The area in which a wet chemical extinguisher is discharged must be well ventilated after use due to the danger of toxic fumes.
Fire blankets are suitable to be thrown over small fires to extinguish them e.g. a pan fire in a domestic kitchen. They are also invaluable as they can be wrapped around a person whose clothing is alight. Fire blankets should be stored in kitchens and away from a potential fire hazard, near an exit, so you know you can reach it in an emergency. If a fire is too large to tackle, don’t endanger yourself – escape! Usually fire blankets must be thrown away after use, but this is dependent on the specific instructions on the blanket’s casing.
Anything Else to Look Out For?
Once you understand which extinguisher type is required for your needs, there are some extra considerations to take into account. Is the fire rating of the extinguisher high enough for your site’s needs? Does the extinguisher hold the BSI Kitemark? Is the Marine Equipment Directive applicable for your uses?
There are many factors which feed into determining the fire rating of an extinguisher, including the fuel of a fire, arrangement of materials on fire and if re-ignition can occur. The rating has two parts, a number and a letter. The letter corresponds to the class of fire the extinguisher can be used on and the number tells you the size of a specific class of fire that can be successfully put out – the larger the number the larger the fire.
Our Jewel Saffire 6l wet chemical fire extinguisher, for example, has a fire rating of 13A 75F. This tells you that it can be used to extinguish a Class A fire of size 13 and a Class F fire of size equivalent to 75l of sunflower oil.
The BSI Kitemark ‘…is a quality mark owned and operated by BSI. It is one of the most recognised symbols of quality and safety and offers true value to consumers, businesses and procurement practices.‘ according to BSI themselves. If a product has the BSI Kitemark, you can rest assured it has been rigorously tested to meet the highest industry standards.
All of our Jewel Saffire extinguishers hold the BSI Kitemark, with a small number of exceptions (1lt foam and the water stainless steel extinguishers). An extinguisher’s certifications can be found under its ‘Technical Specification’ tab.
The Marine Equipment Directive determines which fire extinguishers are suitable to be used specifically in the marine industry. Often equipment in a marine environment are exposed to harsher conditions, so must be tested to ensure they will not fail when relied upon. Both BSI and Apragaz offer the MED certification. A number of our extinguishers offer the MED mark – view a product’s ‘Technical Specification’ tab for more information.
Fire Risk Assessment
If you are unsure in any way which extinguishers are required or how many are needed for your site, you should have a Fire Risk Assessment done. These are relatively cheap, depending on the size of your location and will ensure you conform to all regulations, but most importantly will ensure your safety in the event of a fire.