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Wet chemical information

Portable fire extinguisher guidance

The following paragraphs describe the different types of extinguisher. The colour referred to is the colour of the extinguisher or the colour-coded area.

Water extinguishers (red)

This type of extinguisher can only be used on class A fires. They allow the user to direct water onto a fire from a considerable distance. A 9-Litre water extinguisher can be quite heavy and some water extinguishers with additives can achieve the same rating, although they are smaller and therefore considerably lighter. This type of extinguisher is not suitable for use on live electrical equipment.

Water extinguishers with additives (red)

This type of extinguisher is suitable for class A fires. They can also be suitable for use on class B fires and where appropriate, this will be indicated on the extinguisher. They are generally more efficient than conventional water extinguishers.

Foam extinguishers (cream)

This type of extinguisher can be used on class A or B fires and is particularly suited to extinguishing liquid fires such as petrol and diesel. They should not be used on free-flowing liquids unless the operator has been specially trained, as these have the potential to rapidly spread the fire to adjacent material. This type of extinguisher is not suitable for deep-fat fryers or chip pans.

Powder extinguishers (blue)

This type of extinguisher can be used on most classes of fire and achieve a good "knock down" of the fire. They can be used on fires involving electrical equipment but will almost certainly render the equipment useless. Because they do not cool the fire appreciably it can re-ignite. Powder extinguishers can create a loss of visibility and may affect people who have breathing problems, and are not generally suitable for enclosed spaces.

Carbon dioxide extinguishers (black)

This type of extinguisher is particularly suitable for fires involving electrical equipment as they will extinguish a fire without causing any further damage (except in the case of some electronic equipment e.g. computers). As with all fires involving electrical equipment, the power should be disconnected if possible.

Class F extinguishers (yellow)

This type of extinguisher is particularly suitable for commercial catering establishments with deep-fat fryers.

Fire blankets

Fire blankets should be located in the vicinity of the fire hazard they are to be used on, but in a position that can be safely accessed in the event of a fire. They are classified as either light duty or heavy duty. Light-duty fire blankets are suitable for dealing with small fires in containers of cooking oils or fates and fires involving clothing. Heavy-duty fire blankets are for industrial use where there is a need for the blankets to resist penetration by molten materials.