Your five-part guide to fire extinguishers - part 2

There are 5 main fire extinguisher types – Water, Foam, Dry Powder, CO2 and Wet Chemical. You should have the right types of fire extinguisher for your premises, or you may not meet current regulations.

There are six classes of fire: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, ‘Electrical’, and Class F.

  • Class A fires – combustible materials: caused by flammable solids, such as wood, paper, and fabric

  • Class B fires – flammable liquids: such as petrol, turpentine or paint

  • Class C fires – flammable gases: like hydrogen, butane or methane

  • Class D fires – combustible metals: chemicals such as magnesium, aluminum or potassium

  • Electrical fires – electrical equipment: once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes class

  • Class F fires – cooking oils: typically a chip-pan fire

In this part of your five-part guide, we will be looking at Dry Powder Extinguishers.

Standard dry powder extinguishers are also called ‘ABC’ extinguishers because they tackle class A, B and C fires, however they are not recommended for use in enclosed spaces. This is because the powder can be easily inhaled, and also the residue is very difficult to clean up after. ABC powder extinguishers can also be used on some electrical fires. Specialist dry powder extinguishers are used for flammable metals.

Label Colour: – Blue

Use for:

•    Organic materials such as:
•    Paper and cardboard
•    Fabrics and textiles
•    Wood and coal


•    Flammable liquids, like paint and petrol
•    Flammable gases, like liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and acetylene:
•    Fires involving electrical equipment up to 1000v
Specialist dry powder extinguishers are only used on flammable metals, such as titanium and magnesium.

Do not use for:

•    Fires involving cooking oil
•    Fires involving electrical equipment over 1000v
•    or in enclosed spaces, such as offices or residential properties

How dry powder extinguishers work:

Dry powder extinguishers smother fires by forming a barrier between the fuel and the source of oxygen.

Types of premises/business who may need Dry Powder extinguishers:

•    Businesses using flammable gases for chemical processes
•    Premises where welding and flame cutting takes place
•    Garage forecourts
•    Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) dispensing plants
•    Premises with large, commercial boiler rooms

Where to locate Dry Powder extinguishers:

•    Place dry powder extinguishers near to the source of the fire risk.