Understanding Different Extinguisher Types

Fire Marshal Training

As a trained fire marshal, your primary goal is to understand and minimise the risk of fire. A large part of that is to recognise and understand the tools at your disposal – the fire extinguisher. By doing this, you’ll be able to minimise the risk of fire much more effectively. 

In this article, we’ll be going over the various types of fire extinguishers. We’ll be discussing their ‘fuels’ and the specific types of fire that each is effective against. 

Fire Types 

Before discussing the various types of fire extinguishers, it’s important that we explore the various types of fires. These types are organised into 6 different classes – A to F. Below you will find a breakdown of each Fire Classification. 

Class A

Class A Fires use wood (including paper), straw, textiles, and coal as their primary fuel sources

Class B 

Class B Fires use diesel, petroleum, paint, paraffin, and oil as their fuel. 

Class C

Class C Fires use propane, methane, and other natural gasses as their fuel. 

Class D

Class D Fires use magnesium, aluminium, and lithium as their fuel  

Electrical Fires

Electrical Fires are caused by electrical appliances which have had a short – for example a computer. 

Class F

Class F Fires use combustible material associated with cooking as their medium – for example cooking oil, fats and grease. 

Fire Extinguisher Types 

As with fire types, there are 6 types of fire extinguishers. Generally speaking, certain fire extinguishers will better target some types of fires than others, so it’s important to understand what kind of extinguisher you’re using and the kind of fire that you’re fighting. Distinguishing between different types of extinguisher is easy as, as well as clearly written labels, each type has a different colour associated with it. 

ABC Powder 

Distinguished by its deep blue label, ABC powder extinguishers are excellent at fighting Class A, B, C A and electrical fires. ABC extinguishers are one of only 2 classes which can effectively deal with flammable gases. 

AFF Foam

AFF foam extinguishers are excellent at targeting Class A and B fires – meaning wood, paper, straw, textiles, coal, petrol, diesel, oils, paints and paraffin etc. They are distinguished by their cream labels. 

Carbon Dioxide 

Extremely effective at dealing with flammable liquids and electrical equipment, carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are distinguished  by their black labels. 


Water fire extinguishers are distinguished by their red labels and are only suitable against solid combustible materials. 

Wet Chemical

Easy to spot thanks to their yellow coloured labels, wet chemical  extinguishers are effective against solid combustible materials (Class A) and combustible material associated with cooking (Class F). 

Water Mist

A relatively new technology, water mist  extinguishers are marked by their white labels. They are effective against all types of fires – with the caveat that you should only use them on electrical fires if you have no other type of fire extinguisher on hand. 

Fire Marshal Training at APT 

At APT, we offer a wide range of health and safety training opportunities – including fire marshal training and qualifications. Our courses are delivered by professionals with years of experience, ensuring that you and your colleagues have the most up to date information at the time of the course. Our course content is extensive, and upon successful completion of our course you will be a fully qualified and accredited fire marshal. 

For more information about our fire marshal training courses, get in touch with APT today.

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Kelly Raboutot

Kelly Raboutot