Fire Extinguisher Guide | Fire Extinguisher Types Explained | Toolstation

Fire Extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher Buying Guide

Choosing the right fire extinguisher will not only ensure you have effective protection in an emergency, it’ll also help to keep your business in line with fire safety regulations. But with many types of fire extinguisher available, choosing the right one for your premises can be difficult.

Your choice will mainly depend on the type of fire risk in your space, but you also need to consider who’ll be using the extinguisher and how regularly it might be used to determine the size.

For example, in most schools, offices and hospitals, CO2 extinguishers are ideal – they can be used on electrical fires without leaving a residue and causing even more expensive damage. But you might want to choose smaller models so they can be lifted by anyone with ease in emergency situations – everyone should be taught how to use it first, too.

Types Of Fire Extinguisher

CO2 Fire Extinguisher
Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher
Water Fire Extinguishers
Foam Fire Extinguisher
Lith-Ex Fire Extinguishers
Fire Blanket

Fire Extinguisher Features and Accessories

Extinguisher Size

Not sure what size extinguisher you need? It’s not just the size of the room you need to consider, but also the people who may be using it.


For the home, a 2kg (2 litre) extinguisher will be enough to fight fires in the kitchen, but in large warehouses you should consider multiple, larger canisters of 6kg or more. Some models, like Lith-Ex extinguishers, come as smaller types – 500ml will be enough for a garage with power tools, whereas warehouses should consider 6 litre models.


Also remember that, especially in panicked situations, more extinguishers that are lighter is better than a single heavy one – they’re of no use if the user can’t lift it!

Stored Pressure vs Cartridge Operated

Stored Pressure extinguishers are the most common type, where the propellant comes from the same chamber as the firefighting agent itself. In dry powder extinguishers, for example, this is often nitrogen – when triggered, the nitrogen automatically forces the dry powder out.


Cartridge Operated extinguishers are less common – mainly used in industrial facilities with higher-than-average use – and contain the propellant gas separately. This gas is punctured before discharging the extinguisher to allow the firefighting agent to spray out.


Cartridge Operated types can be simply and quickly recharged in the event of an emergency.

Fire Extinguisher Signs

Fire extinguisher signs are placed next to the extinguisher to tell you how to use it and which sort of fire it’s suitable for, making them crucial in an emergency.


They’re almost always photoluminescent so they can be seen when it’s dark, so you can be alerted to the location of the extinguisher.

Hot Work Kits

Hot work kits are used by contractors carrying out on-site work which may come with fire risks such as welding.


They generally contain a small extinguisher and a fire blanket, and come in a handy carry case so they can be transported easily from job-to-job, knowing you have the essentials if a fire breaks out.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the types of fire extinguishers?

    The main types of fire extinguishers are: CO2, Foam, Dry Powder, Water, Lith-Ex and Wet Chemical.

  • What is a CO2 fire extinguisher?

    CO2 fire extinguishers work by displacing the oxygen in the air, suffocating the fire to prevent it from spreading. They are harmless to electricals and leave no residue. CO2 fire extinguishers are ideal for offices, shops, schools and hospitals.

  • What are foam fire extinguishers for?

    Foam fire extinguishers are used for extinguishing liquid fires such as petrol or diesel. They’re more versatile than water jet extinguishers because they can also be used on solids such as wood and paper.

  • What is a type C fire?

    A Class C fire is one that involves flammable gases. Flammable gases can be very dangerous and highly explosive, so you need to tackle the fire quickly before it gets even worse.

  • Which fire extinguisher has a blue label?

    Fire extinguishers with a blue label are dry powder extinguishers, which are used for solid, liquid and gas fires. They can also be used on electrical fires up to 1000 volts.

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