How to Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher

How to Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher

Choosing the Right Fire Extinguisher

Guessing is not an option!  Being prepared in advance is key!

If you haven’t already, start with part one, Not all Fire Extinguishers are Made Equal: Types of Fire Extinguishing Agents. This post looks at the first steps you need to know before choosing a fire extinguisher.

Before Choosing a Fire Extinguisher

The most important thing to know (before a fire) is to understand the concept of fire and how it works. The easiest way to envision the make up a fire is that of the Fire Triangle.  

Fire Triangle, How Fire Works - Getting Help Buying the Right Fire Extinguisher In order for fire to exist, 4 key elements must be present.  OXYGEN, HEAT ,FUEL & CHEMICAL REACTION. If you can successfully remove one of those elements in theory, the fire should diminish.  Examples of this would be water onto a wood fire.  The water, creates steam which rises from the fire and removes heat, effectively cooling the fire.   A carbon dioxide extinguisher on the other hand on a oil or gas fire will both temporarily displace the oxygen around the fire , and have a cooling effect on the fire at the same time.  

The next most important step to understanding which fire extinguisher to use is to understand that not all fires are the same.  Different fuel types will require different forms of extinguishment.

Classes of Fire

Fires are categorized as classes A, B, C, D & K.

  • Class A

Class A fires are fires in ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, trash, and plastics.

  • Class B

Class B fires are fires in flammable liquids such as gasoline, petroleum oil and paint. Class B fires also include flammable gases such as propane and butane. Class B fires do not include fires involving cooking oils and grease.

  • Class C

Class C fires are fires involving energized electical equipment such as motors, transformers, and appliances. Remove the power and the Class C fire becomes one of the other classes of fire.

  • Class D

Class D fires are fires in combustible metals such as potassium, sodium, aluminum, and magnesium.

  • Class K

Class K fires are fires in cooking oils and greases such as animals fats and vegetable fats.

 Fire Symbols Chart - Getting Help Buying the Right Fire Extinguisher

Some types of fire extinguishing agents can be used on more than one class of fire. Others will have  warnings where it would be dangerous for the operator to use a particular fire extinguishing agent on  the wrong classification of fire. 

Get Help Buying the Right Fire Extinguisher 

We sell a variety of  Fire Extinguishers at our store in Port Coquitlam, BC.

To ensure you choose the correct fire extinguisher for your needs, speak with one of our Vancouver fire inspectors or expert staff

Give us a call at 604-944-9242 or e-mail If you are located in Greater Vancouver, we invite you to stop by the store.