Portable Fire Extinguishers

Rental Home or Home Owner-Occupied Basics

Business Basics

Extinguisher Basics

There are six different types or classes of fire extinguishers: Dry Chemical, Carbon Dioxide, Class D, Wet Chemical , Halotron, Water, each of which extinguishes specific types of fire.

Newer fire extinguishers use a picture/labeling system to designate which types of fires they are to be used on. Older fire extinguishers are labeled with colored geometrical shapes with letter designations.

ABC Dry Chemical

This type of extinguisher utilizes a dry chemical agent that suppresses Class A, B and C fires. It can be used to extinguish Class A common combustibles, Class B flammable liquids and Class C electrical equipment fires. ABC extinguishers are great for home, office, flammable liquid storage, boiler room, chemical facility and warehouse applications.

Carbon Dioxide

This extinguisher is a high pressure vessel filled with either 5 or 10 pounds of liquid CO2 which dispenses as a white cloud that smothers the fire by eliminating its oxygen. It is a clean, non-contaminating odorless gas and is safe for use on clothing, equipment, valuable documents or food. CO2 extinguishers are particularly useful for computer rooms, flammable liquid storage areas and hospital operating room fires.

Class D

Class D extinguishers contain a sodium chloride based dry chemical extinguishing agent. Heat from the fire coats the metal, excluding air and dissipating the heat from the burning metals. This type of extinguisher is designed for use in areas where combustible metals are present.

Class K

This extinguisher contains a potassium-based liquid, which is specifically designed for grease fires common in kitchens. The special design does not splash grease fires, but cools and smothers them instead. These extinguishers are for exclusive use in areas where “combustible cooking equipment” is present.

Halatron 1

Halatron fire extinguishers are an environmentally acceptable Halon-1211 alternative, designed to meet any special hazard need where Halon 1211 was traditionally used. This extinguisher offers the best discharge range for outdoor applications. They are ideal for uses in office computer areas, data storage, telecommunications and high tech clean rooms.


Pressurized water extinguishers utilize a cooling and soaking stream that is very effective on Class A fires. They are perfect for home or office use for paper, cloth, wood, trash and other common combustible fires. These are labeled “Water”. Never make the mistake of using a pressurized water extinguisher on hot oil or electrical equipment.

Multi-Class Ratings

Many extinguishers available today can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with more than one designator, e.g. A-B, B-C, or A-B-C. Make sure that if you have a multi-purpose extinguisher it is properly labeled.

This is the old style of labeling indicating suitability for use on Class A, B, and C fires.

This is the new style of labeling that shows this extinguisher may be used on Ordinary Combustibles, Flammable Liquids, or Electrical Equipment fires. This is the new labeling style with a diagonal red line drawn through the picture to indicate what type of fire this extinguisher is NOT suitable for. In this example, the fire extinguisher could be used on Ordinary Combustibles and Flammable Liquids fires, but not for Electrical Equipment fires.