Hand Portable Extinguishers

To fight different classes of fires, there are different types of fire extinguishers. Each has its own characteristics, capabilities, and limitations.

Three main types of portable fire extinguishers include:

Dry Chemical extinguishers

Dry chemical extinguishers are the most common and available in few types. These extinguishers will be marked for the classes they are designed to extinguish (e.g., ABC type extinguisher will put out Class A, B and C fires). The extinguishers discharge a blanket of fine powder which creates a break between the fuel and the oxygen in the air. The powder also works to break the chemical reaction. Be accurate when using as they have a short to moderate spray range and last only 10 to 25 seconds.

Water extinguishers

  • Do not use water to extinguish an electrical fire. Water is a good conductor and can increase the possibility of electrocution.
  • Do not use water to extinguish flammable liquid or cooking oil fires. Water is ineffective as it helps to spread the liquid and the fire.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers

  • Do not use CO2 extinguishers in confined spaces as CO2 can displace the oxygen in the air, making breathing difficult. Only use in a confined space if workers have appropriate respiratory protection.
  • Do not use CO2 extinguishers for Class A fires because the fire may continue to smolder and re-ignite after the CO2 disperses.

Do you need help selecting an appropriate extinguisher? Check out the chart below, or get in touch with us today.

WaterALong60 secondsFights re-ignition
CO₂B and C Short 10 - 20 seconds May make breathing difficult in enclosed areas.
Dry Chemical B and C
Some A
Moderate 10 - 25 secondsLeaves residue
Liquid GasB and C
Some A
Short10 secondsMay make breathing difficult in enclosed areas
Chemical FoamA and BModerate 10 - 30 secondsLeaves residue
Bucket of Sand/Dry PowderDCheck with your supervisor regarding equipment for Class D fire fighting
Wet Chemical KPrevents re-ignition


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