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Portable fire extinguisher FYI - Parts I & II

Part I:


Types of Portable Fire Extinguishers:

Class A:

  • Identified by the letter A surrounded by a green triangle
  • Contains Water
  • Used for wood, paper, i.e. the most common flammable items
  • The most common Portable Fire Extinguisher

Class B:

  • Identified by the letter B surrounded by a red square
  • Used for flammable liquids, i.e. oil, grease, gas
  • Contains dry chemicals, carbon dioxide, or halogenated agents to smother fire with a thick foam

Class C:

  • Identified by the letter C surrounded by a blue circle
  • Used for live electrical equipment, i.e. electrical boxes, panels, transformers
  • Contains dry chemicals (see Class B)

Class D:

  • Identified by the letter D surrounded by a yellow star
  • Used for combustible materials
  • Contains dry powder agent (specific to combustible metal in use)

Class K:

  • Identified by the letter K
  • Used for fats, grease, and oils in commercial kitchens
  • Contains wet chemicals (potassium acetate)



Part II

Choose the fire extinguisher that best fits your needs according to the size and type of fire that could potentially occur. For example, you wouldn’t want a Class K fire extinguisher (smothers fires started by fats and oils) in an office building where a paper or electrical fire is more probable. Be sure to space fire extinguishers based on
federal, state, and industry standards.


Fire extinguishers must be mounted on brackets or in wall cabinets with the extinguisher’s handle placed 3-1/2 to 5 feet above the floor – an easy position for someone to quickly grab the extinguisher in an emergency. Larger fire extinguishers should be mounted lower to keep the handle at 3 feet from the floor.


Every business should have a program that ensures the regular inspection of fire extinguishers each month. This program should include:

  • Extinguishers always remain in their selected locations, clearly visible and not blocked by objects or equipment that would prevent immediate use in an emergency.
  • Extinguishers should be accompanied by a bright visible sign or label, particularly glow-in-the-dark for visibility during dark or smoky conditions.
  • Inspection Tags should be up-to-date and facing out.
  • Pressure gauges must display a full charge.
  • Extinguisher is in good physical condition, i.e. no corrosion or leaks and pins and tamper seals are still intact.


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