Portable fire extinguishers

Lesson Progress:

When using portable fire extinguishers it is vital that everyone is vigilant and any hot work is controlled. The table below shows the types of portable fire extinguishers and what to use them on.

Extinguishing mediumColour of panelWhere not to use
Water: for wood, paper, textile and solid material fires
Do not use on liquid, electrical or metal fires
Foam: for liquid fires
Do not use on electrical or metal


Powder: for liquid and electrical fires

Specialist dry powders: for

metal fires

Do not use on metal fires unless

M28 or L2 text is printed on extinguisher, which means it is suitable for metal fires

Carbon dioxide: for wood, paper, textiles, gaseous, liquid and electrical fires
Do not use on metal fires
Wet chemical: for wood, paper, textile, cooking oil and solid material fires
Do not use on liquid, gas or electrical fires

Note: dry powder extinguishers may be provided as well as or substituted for water, foam or carbon dioxide extinguishers. Extinguishers used to control Class 8 fires (flammable liquids) will not work on Class b fires (cooking oils) because of the high temperatures produced.

Fire extinguishers should only be used on very small fires (as a guide, no bigger than a waste paper bin) or to aid escape.

If you have to leave the location of the fire to raise the alarm, do not return to the fire – continue your own evacuation. Fires can spread very quickly