Each fire extinguisher is installed according to the fire risk most likely in its surrounding area. You’ll choose a fire extinguisher for a specific class of fire.
The different types of fire extinguisher work to tackle different fires in their own unique way – and each one is identified by its colour-coded label.
In this simple guide, we outline the different types of extinguishers and what each colour signifies.
What’s in a colour?
Should a fire take hold, it’s imperative that people in the building know where vital fire-fighting equipment is located and are confident they’ll be picking up the right fire extinguisher appropriate for the class of fire it’s being used on. Extinguishers are quickly identified by their colour – a colour-coded label is placed along the top of the extinguisher to announce its type and contents.
There are five colours in total. Below we’ve listed out how they apply to each extinguisher:
Water extinguishers take a red label. This type of fire extinguisher is most commonly used for Class A fires (those caused by flammable solids like wood or paper).
Foam extinguishers display a cream label. They’re most commonly used on Class B fires (started by flammable liquids). However, as they’re water-based, they’ll also work on Class A fires.
Dry powder extinguishers display a blue label. These extinguishers are also known as ABC extinguishers because of their versatility to help tackle Class A, B and C fires (those started by flammable solids, liquids and gases). Powder extinguishers shouldn’t be used in enclosed spaces because the powder could easily be inhaled and the residue that’s left over is hard to remove.
CO2 extinguishers feature a black label. These extinguishers are mainly used on electrical fires but can also tackle Class B (flammable liquid) fires. Another identifying feature of this extinguisher is its horn-like nozzle.
Wet chemical extinguishers feature a bright yellow label. This type of extinguisher is specifically designed for use on Class F fires (cooking oils and fats).
For more detailed colour identification and extinguisher information, download the CheckFire Extinguisher Guide.