Which fire extinguishers are available?

Overview of the different extinguishing agents and the technical design variants of a fire extinguisher.

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27 November 2023 Fire Safety

What fire extinguishers are available?

Fire extinguishers are an indispensable tool for fighting incipient fires. They should be available in offices, educational establishments and businesses, and we also recommend a fire extinguisher for the home. However, not every fire extinguisher is suitable for every fire. It is therefore important to understand: Which fire extinguishers are available and in which situation is which fire extinguisher the right one?

In this context, we provide an overview of the different types of fire extinguishers. Basically, fire extinguisher types can be differentiated according to the extinguishing agent used and their technical design.

Foam extinguishers

Foam extinguishers offer effective extinguishing performance and leave only minimal soiling. After use, the extinguishing foam can be easily wiped off.

  • Fire class A: Solid materials such as wood, paper, textiles
  • Fire class B: Liquid substances such as paints, tar, petrol
  • Only in areas with temperatures from 0 °C to +60 °C 
  • Example: Living spaces, offices, warehouses, industrial facilities 

Sustainable foam extinguishers: We recommend that you use fluorine-free foam extinguishers. These contain a biodegradable extinguishing agent.

Powder extinguishers

Powder extinguishers have an extremely effective extinguishing capacity and are regarded as versatile all-rounders among fire extinguishers, as they are suitable for various fire classes. However, they leave behind considerable soiling. The powder penetrates into the smallest crevices, which means that surrounding electronic devices may lose their functionality after the powder extinguisher has been used. The powder can also cause considerable corrosion damage if it comes into contact with moisture.

  • Fire class A: Solid materials such as wood, paper and textiles 
  • Fire class B: Liquid substances such as paints, tar and petrol 
  • Fire class C: Gases such as natural gas, methane, propane and hydrogen 
  • Fire class D: Metals 
  • Also suitable for outdoor use. Can be used in the temperature range from -30 °C to +60 °C
  • Examples: Industrial plants, garages, vehicles, construction sites, airports

Water extinguisher

Among fire extinguishers, the water extinguisher is characterised as the most environmentally friendly extinguishing agent. It achieves an effective extinguishing performance and leaves only minimal soiling.

  • Fire class A: Solid materials such as wood, paper, textiles
  • Only in areas with temperatures from 0 °C to +60 °C 
  • Examples: Residential and commercial areas, educational facilities, industrial facilities, warehouses

Carbon dioxide extinguisher / CO2 fire extinguisher

The CO2 extinguisher has a good extinguishing capacity and protects neighbouring electrical appliances. This means that there is no extinguishing damage after use.   

But be careful! There is a risk of suffocation in small rooms, so get out immediately or extinguish from the door. CO2 is very dangerous for humans; just a few breaths can lead to asphyxiation.

  • Fire class B: Liquid substances such as paint, tar and petrol 
  • Also suitable for outdoor use. Can be used in the temperature range from -30 °C to +60 °C
  • Examples: IT rooms, electronics rooms, laboratories, airports, machine rooms, garages

Grease fire extinguisher

If cooking oil or fat starts to burn, the grease fire extinguisher proves to be extremely effective and leaves behind only minimal soiling that can be cleaned up quickly.

  • Fire class A: Solid materials such as wood, paper, textiles
  • Fire class F: edible oils, edible fats 
  • Also suitable for outdoor use. Usable in the temperature range from -30 °C to +60 °C 
  • Examples: Kitchen, bakery, canteen, outdoor kitchen

Technical design of fire extinguishers

Beyond the differences in the extinguishing agents, there are two other categories of fire extinguishers that are characterised by their technical design: Continuous pressure extinguishers and rechargeable extinguishers.

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The permanent pressure extinguisher consists of a permanently pressurised container. It is available as a foam, powder, water and CO2 fire extinguisher. The disadvantage is that the pressure can escape over time, which may limit its functionality. It is therefore advisable to check the pressure regularly using the attached pressure gauge. The permanent pressure extinguisher is generally inexpensive to purchase, but requires more extensive maintenance due to the constant pressure, which can result in higher maintenance costs.

The rechargeable extinguisher consists of an extinguishing agent container in which a propellant bottle is installed. The propellant is only released when the extinguisher is triggered. This makes it safer and there is no risk of it escaping in an uncontrolled manner. Rechargeable extinguishers are available with one of the extinguishing agents foam, powder or water. Compared to permanent pressure extinguishers, rechargeable extinguishers are more expensive to purchase, but maintenance is comparatively inexpensive.

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In principle, it can be assumed that a fire extinguisher has a service life of 20 - 25 years if it is regularly serviced and maintained.

Extinguishing agents: Which fire extinguishers are available?

Fire extinguishers contain one of the following extinguishing agents: extinguishing foam, powder, water, carbon dioxide/CO2 and an extinguishing agent for grease fires.

Technical structure: Which fire extinguishers are available?

There is the permanent pressure extinguisher and the rechargeable extinguisher. Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages, but we recommend the rechargeable extinguisher.

Do you still have questions about fire extinguishers?

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