FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

 
Q : What are the different types of fire extinguisher and what are they used for? 
A : "Water", "Water with Additive", "Watermist", "Carbon Dioxide", "Foam", "Dry Powder", "Wet Chemical", "Class D" or "M28" or "L2", and "Firexo". 
Water is for wood, paper, plastic, textiles, straw and hay. Red label. 
Carbon dioxide is for electrical Items and flammable liquid. Black label. 
Foam is for flammable liquids, wood, paper, textiles, plastics, straw and hay. Cream label. 
Dry Powder is multipurpose, can be used on all fires but MUST be for outdoor use only. Blue label. 
Wet Chemical is ONLY for use on cooking oil fires, such as chip pans, deep fat fryers, restaurants and chip shops. Canary-yellow label. 
Class D, M28, or L2 is ONLY for use on metal fires and metallic substances such as magnesium. Blue label.  
Firexo is a multipurpose and can tackle all of the above risks and could potentially take over the future of fire protection. White label.  
 
 
 
Q : What is the best extinguisher to use for Electrical fires?  
A : The best extinguisher is a Carbon Dioxide, often referred to as C02 and has a black label. The C02 gas quickly extinguishes the flames by removing the oxygen whilst cooling. The benefit of using carbon dioxide over a power is, it will not cause any electrical items to malfunction, also there is no residue as the C02 gas dissipates in the air. 
 
 
 
Q : What is a Yellow fire extinguisher used for? 
A : A 'Canary Yellow' label on an extinguisher means it is a wet chemical extinguisher which can only be used on cooking oil fires which you might find in a chip shop, cafe, hotel or restaurant.  
 
 
Q : Which extinguisher is best for flammable liquids? 
A : The best extinguisher is an "Afff foam spray", which has a cream label. The benefit of this is that it will also protect the user against accidental spraying of live electrics, due to a sprinkler type system at the end of the hose, the electricity cannot electrocute the user. Foam is water-based leaving little residue.  
 
 
Q : What is the best extinguisher for home? 
A : Subject to the size of your home, we suggest a small 2 litre "Afff foam spray" for a kitchen, however the British fire authority stipulates that homeowners should not purchase fire equipment, unless they are fully trained in their usage. In the event of fire, evacuate as quickly as possible. Dial 999. Do not stop for personal belongings! Do not re-enter under any circumstances until the fire brigade have said it is safe to do so!  
 
 
Q : What fire extinguisher would you used for fabrics ? 
A : The best extinguisher would be water, water with additive and water-mist, these have a red label. An afff Foam spray may also be used, however this may damage any garments, but it would work as effectively. 
 
 
Q : How to use a fire extinguisher? 
A : Every fire extinguisher will have instructions in the native language, on the body of the extinguisher as different manufacturers have different methods of operating, however the rule of thumb is to remove the tamper-seal and the safety mechanism which prevents accidental usage, direct the hose or horn to the base of the fire and squeeze the handles together. We advise to place an extinguisher on the floor, if it is very heavy.  
 
 
Q : What is a Dry Powder extinguisher used for ? 
A : It is multi-purpose and can be used on all types of fire, however due to a change in the regulatory reform order in 2015 ABC Dry Powder must only be used in external settings, no longer for indoor use.  
 
 
Q : Do fire blankets expire ? 
A : Yes, fire blankets have a life expectancy of about ten years, after which time they should ideally be replaced for a brand new one. This is due to the fibres used in their production, this can deteriorate over time and prevent them extinguishing flames. If your blanket is 2015 or older, you should request an inspection due to changes in the law, making a large number of fire blankets obsolete.  
 
 
Q : What is the advised distance to use a fire extinguisher? 
A : It depends upon which type and size extinguisher you are using. As far away from the fire as possible. Carbon Dioxide has a much shorter range and therefore you must be within 7-10 feet from the fire. All other extinguishers have a range of throw of at least 10-15 feet. Unless you're fully trained you should not attempt to use a fire extinguisher if you can evacuate, and raise the alarm. If you find yourself tapped by fire then try and remain a safe distance from the fire and evacuate as soon as practical. Do not stay to fight a fire! Go to the assembly point and await further instruction from the emergency services.  
 
 
Q : How do you get rid, or dispose of old fire extinguishers 
A : You cannot simply dispose of pressurised containers and extinguishers. They must be correctly recycled for example, dry powder makes a very good fertilizer and therefore can be donated to farmlands. Water based extinguishers and C02 must be emptied, stripped of all their parts and then ecologically recycled. We offer a disposal service for anyone local to our offices, there are other companies who offer this service around the country.  
 
 
Q : How often are fire extinguishers checked or maintained in the UK? 
A : According to the current legislation all fire protection equipment must be serviced at least annually by a competent person, that is, someone who has the correct tools, training and experience. A weekly visual check must be performed by a staff member, in every organisation, to ensure they have not been tampered with.  
 
 
Q : What is the meaning of one fire one extinguisher 
A : This is relating to a new kind of fire extinguisher which came to market a short while ago, it is a multipurpose foam style of extinguisher, the ingredients of which are top secret but it is a water based extinguisher, capable of dealing with any fire risk. It has a white label and is called "Firexo". 
 
 
Q : What height should a fire extinguisher be mounted ? 
A : The current legislation stipulates that if the extinguisher is heavier than five kilograms then the carrying handle cannot be any higher than one metre from the floor. This is to prevent it causing serious injury if it were dropped, whilst trying to remove it from the wall hanging bracket. Lighter extinguishers can be at eye level, but no higher.  
 
 
Q : when is it appropriate to smother a fire with a fire blanket? 
A : A fire blanket should be used on a chip pan to prevent the spread of fire. Pull the tags from the bottom of the box, holding the blanket up level with your nose, lay the blanket over the top and leave it there for at least a few hours. If you remove the blanket before the oil is fully cooled, the in-surging oxygen may cause further ignition. A fire blanket can also be used for someone who is on fire. In the same way, wrapping them up in the blanket will cause the fire retardant material to quickly extinguish the flames due to a lack of oxygen. Rush the person to hospital for a checkup.  
 
 
Q : Why are fire extinguishers placed near fire exits? 
A : For a few reasons, primarily in case the exit is blocked by fire, it can be used to reduce the flames enabling an efficient evacuation. If extinguishers are always by an exit, people tend to remember that they are by the exit, where as if they're situated in the middle of a corridor, there is a tendency to try and fight the fire, rather than evacuate as quickly as possible. Never tackle a fire that is out of control. Evacuate as quickly as possible, Dial 999 and follow the instructions of the emergency services
 
Q: How should you determine which type of fire extinguisher to use ? 
A : It depends what is on fire and how the fire began, if the fire has spread beyond control, evacuate and dial 999 and follow the instructions of the emergency services. Try and match the extinguisher to the "Fuel" of the fire, for instance if a sofa is ablaze it is mainly wood and textiles therefore you need either Water or Foam. If it is an electrical circuit or device, use Carbon Dioxide. (for more information see the question opposite).  
 
 
Q : What class of fire is a paper fire ?  
A : Paper, wood, plastics and textiles are all Class A and therefore can be quickly extinguished with a Water based extinguishers, which are red in colour.  
 
 
Q : Is there such a thing as an automatic fire extinguisher? 
A : Not as such, however we have recently begun to feature on our website a "Fire Knockout" product which instantly attacks fire without the need for human interaction. Click here for further information. 
 
 
Q : What is the best extinguisher for fireworks?  
A : CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) extinguishers are good responses to problems with fireworks and pyrotechnics. C02 leaves no residue and can be used repeatedly until they run out. But they only work for small fires. It is wise to have a bucket of kiln dried sand for sparklers and a bucket of water wouldn't be a bad idea either.  
 
 
Q : What is the British Standard for fire extinguishers? 
A : This standard for portable fire extinguishers is BS 5306 part 3. 
 
 
Q : Can you use water on Flammable liquid fires? 
A : NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Never use water on a fire containing flammable liquids. It will make the problem worse and create a fire-ball. Click this link here to watch a video and see the effects of a single cup of water onto a grease fire. 
 
 
Q : What are the dangers of using a C02 extinguisher.  
A : There is relatively low risk of danger providing there is a "horn" connected to the head of the extinguisher. The horn diffuses the pressure out of the body of the extinguisher, If a horn were not attached it could cause severe injuries and possible death. Never remove the head of a C02 extinguisher (or any other pressurised canister). 
 
 
Q : Why is it that ALL fire extinguishers are now red coloured? 
A : There are a number of reasons for this, the main reason is to comply with Europe. Therefore, ALL extinguishers within Europe (should) comply to EN3 standard. However having all extinguishers one solid colour does actually make sense, as it is far easier to spot a bright red fire extinguisher out of the corner of your eye, whereas black, blue, cream and yellow coloured extinguishers often blended into the colours of the background environment. Also the colour red is associated with danger. Statistically red extinguishers are tampered with, less.  
 
 
Q : Is it possible to refill C02's ?  
A : Yes, in fact all sizes and types of fire extinguisher are refillable. 
 
 
Q : Where can I buy fire extinguisher signage from?  
A : Official fire and safety signage can be purchased from all many different websites and online shops as well as some good stationery shops. Click here  
 
 
Q : Do fire extinguishers expire? 
A : In theory no, provided they are maintained at least annually. After five years of service they can have an "extended service". This means they are set of as if in an emergency, providing they work as they should, they can then be refilled, re-pressurised and placed back into service for a further five years. However, without regular maintenance, fire extinguishers will soon begin to falter; algae can build up inside the body of water based extinguishers, along with other issues which can arise.  
 
Q : What should fire blankets be used for? 
A : Fire blankets can ONLY be used on clothing fires, or to assist with the cooling down of a chip-pan. Never remove a fire blanket from a chip pan until the oil in the pan is completely cooled, this can take at least three hours.  
 
 
Q : What fire extinguisher should I use on my Narrow boat, or Cabin Cruiser? 
A : If your boat is sea-going you must have a marine-rated Class B fire extinguisher. This is usually a water based foam extinguisher which can be coupled with a marine rated c02 . It a good idea to have a fire suppression unit in the engine bay too, which instantly attacks fire without the need for human interaction. If your vessel is for inland waterways, rivers and canals, you do not need it to be marine rated to get a certificate of maintenance, therefore AFFF foam is ideal.  
 
 
Q : What is a Green Fire Extinguisher for ? 
A : An extinguisher which is green in colour is filled with an agent called Halon. Halon is a liquid gas which when set off, immediately extinguished the flames of any type of fire, however On January 1, 1994, Halon production ceased in compliance with the Montreal Protocol and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The reason for this, is that when is sprayed, not on flames, it omits an ozone depleting gas therefore it can never be tested to prove it would work in an emergency. There are still small amounts of it being produced for Airlines and the Ministry of Defense but you must hold a special licence to obtain it.  
 
 
Q : How many extinguishers are required in a business in the UK 
A : There is a minimum requirement of at least two. It does entirely dependant upon the size of your premises and the type of risk your business represents. Every entrance and exit must have at least two fire extinguishers of different types and you must also cater for any additional risks there may be. The best thing is to have a sire survey completed from this a bespoke quotation can be provided.  
 
 
Q : What do fire extinguishers do 
A : They protect life, from the threat of fire and assist in the evacuation from areas which may be blocked by fire leading to a fire escape or other means of escape. Essentially they extinguish (or put out) small fires.  
 
 
Q : what fire extinguisher for welding 
A : Carbon Dioxide is best for welding as it can be used repeatedly until it runs out. It is advisable to have a water based extinguisher nearby too, in case any material catches alight from the sparks of the welding machine, particularly when welding vehicles.  
 
 
Q : Where should you aim to be most effective when using a fire extinguisher ? 
A : Always aim the hose or horn at the base of the fire, if possible walking around the base of the fire to attack it from as many angles as possible. This will lay down a barrier preventing the spread of fire and quickly attack the heat of the flames which is the best way of extinguishing a fire. It is not always possible to walk around the fire, if in a corridor for example, in this instance continue to spray the base, knocking the fire back and building up an area which remains wet.  
 
 
Q : Who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace ?  
A : Within each place of work there should be an appointed "responsible person" who is trained in how to evacuate efficiently. This person should also be responsible for checking fire escapes remain clear, extinguishers haven't been set off or tampered with and know where the assembly points are and how to keep a register in the fire-log book.  
 
 
Q : Which part of the fire should a co2 extinguisher be aimed at? 
A : Always aim at the base of the fire. Carbon Dioxide very quickly extinguishes flames by removing the oxygen and cooling the heat of the fire it will extinguish a fire almost instantly, but it is less effective on wood, paper, plastics, textiles, straw and hay.  
 
 
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