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A guide to foam fire extinguishers

One of the most common types of fire extinguisher, a foam fire extinguisher can be used to fight fires that involve flammable solids and liquids such as wood, paper or petrol. Ideal for office environments, hospitals and schools, owning a foam fire extinguisher could be the difference between a minor fire and catastrophic devastation.

Here, we explain how you can best combat a fire with a foam fire extinguisher.

Which type of fire should a foam extinguisher be used on?
If you’re an employer, home owner, landlord or an occupier it is essential you have the right fire extinguisher for your surroundings, and for the safety of the people around you. Most commonly used on Class B fires (flammable liquids), a foam fire extinguisher can also be used for Class A risk fires that involve paper, wood, textiles and plastics. Understanding what extinguisher to use on what type of fire is just as important as knowing what type of fires not to use them on.

How does a foam extinguisher work?
A foam extinguisher is water based with a frothy foaming agent. Once directed on to the fire, the foam would float on top of the burning liquid and begin to diminish the reaction between the flames and the fuel surface. Its smothering qualities prevent the fire reigniting by suffocating and cooling down burning materials quickly and preventing oxygen getting to the fire.

How is a foam extinguisher identified?
Fire extinguishers are distinguished not only by their names, but by their coloured labels too. Foam fire extinguishers have a cream-coloured label with ‘Foam’ marked prominently on the front of the red casing above the operating instructions.

Where is a foam extinguisher most suitable for use?
Fire hazards can vary dependent on the setting and landscape, therefore it’s smart to select an extinguisher that can fight the type of fire that is most likely to occur. A foam fire extinguisher is ideal for office environments, hospitals, schools and other spaces where organic materials such as wood, grass or bark play a large role in the landscape. Other locations could also include: oil refineries, garages, workshops or other small industrial locations.

For more information on the correct fire extinguishers and their applications, read our blog to ensure your safety is covered.


The content of the CheckFire blog is for general information purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, under no circumstances should it be considered professional advice. Any reliance you place on the information is at your own risk. Always seek the advice of a fire professional for your particular circumstances and requirements.
  • by Toria Jones

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