Fire Extinguishers – Specifications

Fire extinguishers are designed for a variety of fire situations and use various materials for fire suppression. When procuring extinguishers, it is important to identify the type needed. Classifications vary according to source of extinguisher. The following table lists the different classifications by geographic area:

American European Australian/Asian Fuel/Heat source
Class A Class A Class A Ordinary combustibles
Class B Class B Class B Flammable liquids
Class C Class C Flammable gases
Class C UNCLASSIFIED Class E Electrical equipment
Class D Class D Class D Combustible metals
Class K Class Class F Cooking oil or fat

The details given below use the US classification – adjust accordingly for the classification of your supplier.

Extinguishers will list the type or types of fires it is designed for, along with a preceding number to indicate the strength of its extinguishing capacity for each type of fire – for example, US 1-A:10-B:C indicates a much higher capacity for flammable liquids and gases than for ordinary combustibles. (The exception is US Class C/Australian/Asian Call E – these merely indicate safe to use on electrical equipment and does not have an accompanying quantifier). The high the number, the more powerful the extinguishing power.

Dry powder or dry chemical is the most all-purpose of extinguishers, providing coverage for most fir applications. However, they are not safe to use on cooking oil/fat fires – wet chemicals should be used for kitchen areas. Extinguishers should be purchased according to their expected use:

Location Extinguisher
Office Dry chemical, high A rating, C
Garage, vehicle area, generator room Dry chemical, High B rating, C, D
Guest house (except kitchen) Dry chemical, High A rating
Kitchen Wet chemical, High K rating
Warehouse Dry chemical, High A, High B rating

All extinguishers should be a minimum of ten pounds.

Procurement location:  These should be procured locally if a reputable source can be identified and certification/inspection mechanism is in place.