As part of our core value for safety information to our customers, our team has decided to write a buyer’s guide to fire extinguishers in Australia. In this guide, we will cover types of fire extinguishers, suitable fire classes, location and mounting and identification. This guide will help you meet current Australian regulations and ensure the safety of others with an effective fire protection system for home and businesses in times of need.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are 5 types of fire extinguishers in Australia, each fire extinguisher combats different types of fuel of the fire triangle which determines the ‘classes of fire’ which include: A, B, C, D (E*) & F
|Class A Fires||Used for fires that involve carbonaceous solids like paper products, plastics, wood products, textiles, fabrics and rubber products|
|Class B Fires||Used for fires that involve flammable or combustible liquids such as petrol, kerosene, oil, tar or wax. In an office environment, you could find these in chemical cleaning products or equipment lubricants for example.|
|Class C Fires||Used for fires that involve combustible gases such as butane, propane and natural gas. Most of the time, these fires can be quickly put out before fire pressure builds.|
|Class D Fires||Used for fires that involve combustible metals such as aluminium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium.|
|Class E Fires (Electrical Fires)||Technically, there is no such thing as ‘E’ fires because they have no fuel but often referred to as electrical fires. Fire extinguishers used to stop E fires are related to electrical equipment requires electricity or circuit to operate.|
|Class F Fires||Used for fires that involve cooking oils and fat-based products such as lard, butter, vegetable oil etc. These fires are often found in a kitchen setting of the workplace or industrial kitchens.|
NOTE: Even though ABE fire extinguishers are most popular choice amongst customers, it is crucial to understand that there is no one solution fire extinguisher. Each class of fire and environment will determine the size, type and support fitting or bracket for your fire extinguisher. It is essential that Australian businesses and homes have the right extinguisher installed to reduce injury and prevent costs in the event of a small fire.
ABE Fire Extinguishers
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Are you look to purchase a dry chemical powder?
There are many types of fire extinguishers, nevertheless, the dry chemical fire extinguisher also known as a DCP extinguisher for short is the most commonly bought and used fire extinguisher in Australia. Its ability to handle different kinds of fires has gained it to be a popular choice amongst customers. Dry chemical extinguishers act a blanket of non-flammable dust (inert solids) on the fire’s fuel that separates it from oxygen, further smothering the flames. A DCP fire extinguisher’s suppressing agent allows combatting class A, B & E fires. This makes the dry chemical powder extremely versatile that can be used to combat fires from homes, cars to extreme environments conditions such as mining sites. For superior protection, DCP High-performance fire extinguishers are also available.
In Australia, a dry chemical extinguisher generally has a red body and will always have a WHITE colour band wrapped around the tank. Sizes can range from 1kg to 9kg depending on its use and environment. Be aware, there are two types of dry chemical that include ABE & BE type extinguishers.
- Class A Fires: These involve flammable materials found in homes and business areas, including paper, textile fabrics, rubber, wood and plastic. The most common examples are trash fires or furniture related fires.
- Class B Fires: These involve flammable or combustible liquids, petrol, oil, and alcohol. Common examples are due to lit thrown cigarette butts or machinery sparks that come into contact with flammable liquids.
- Class E Fires: These involve electrical equipment such as heaters, fans, kitchens, and electronics found in workplaces, laboratories, and electronics at homes. A common example involves fires due to overheating of appliances.
- Class F Fires (Only for BE): These involve cooking oils and fats, however, due to its construction and it is capable of extinguishing this class of fire.
For a comprehensive guide on dry chemical extinguishers, check our article here. We cover in detail on how to use DCP extinguishers, its advantages and disadvantages as well as signage and maintenance requirements. To check out our product range for ABE fire extinguishers, click here. We sell at wholesale prices.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers
Carbon dioxide (C02) extinguishers are regarded as the customer’s preferred choice when it comes to choosing a fire extinguisher for electrical fires making them popular in workplaces in Australia. C02 fire extinguishers have carbon dioxide in liquid form when the extinguisher is used the liquid is released into the air neutralising the oxygen the fire is dependent on and consequently preventing the spreading of fire. This makes the C02 fire extinguishers a popular choice for areas with electronics such as server rooms, offices, schools, hospitals, and laboratories.
In Australia, C02 fire extinguishers have a slimmer red body than most extinguishers and will always have a BLACK colour band wrapped around the tank. C02 fire extinguishers range from 2kg to 5kg. For additional help, check out our extensive guide on C02 extinguishers here. To check out product range, click here
- Class B Fires: These involve flammable or combustible solvents, propane, butane, and petrol. Common examples are due to lit thrown cigarette butts or machinery sparks that come into contact with flammable liquids.
- Class E Fires (Most Used): These involve electrical equipment such as heaters, fans, kitchens, and electronics found in workplaces, laboratories, and electronics at homes. A common example involves fires due to overheating of appliances.
Foam extinguishers can come in different varieties, Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) being the most popular type. AFFF extinguishers provide to be a low-cost effective solution that offers high cooling and produces a foam covering that starves the fire from its fuel. AFFF fire extinguishers is a foam concentrate product which, when sprayed on a flammable liquid fire, forms a thin aqueous film at the fuel/air starving the fuel from the oxygen and suppressing the combustion reaction. The blanket of foam also contains traces of water and a mixture of solvents, biocides, corrosion inhibitors which provides a cooling effect and reduces the possibility of a fire reigniting.
This makes foam extinguishers suitable for areas such as warehouses, storage units (not with electrical equipment or heavy machinery), paper mills, textile factories, and even house living rooms.
In Australia, foam extinguishers have a red body and will have a BLUE colour band wrapped around the tank. The most popular size for a foam extinguisher is 9.0L. For additional help, check out our extensive guide on C02 extinguishers here where we cover in more detail about its use, pros and cons and maintenance requirements.
- Class A Fires: These involve ordinary combustibles including wood, paper, textiles and many plastics.
- Class B Fires (Most Used): These involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, petroleum greases, oil-based paints.
Please note: If you are a Queensland operator that uses AFFF, please ensure you understand your obligations using foam products. For more information, please visit the Queensland government website here: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/disasters/investigation-pfas/firefighting-foam
To check out our 9.0L AFFF Extinguisher, click here.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Wet chemical fire extinguishers in comparison to the rest of fire extinguishers have a special ability in dealing with class F fires caused by cooking oils and fats that has a flashing point of 37 degrees. Due to its potassium solution, wet chemical fire extinguishers work in two ways. First, the mist of the fire extinguisher and lowers the temperature to a cooling point that prevents the fire from spreading. Second, the extinguishant reacts with the cooking hot oil to form a soapy substance through a process called saponification. When applied to a burning liquid that has a flashpoint of 37 degrees Celsius, the process cools and emulsifies acting as a barrier between the fat and oil, extinguishing the flame and sealing to prevent flame reignition.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers are designed to combat during times of cooking heat. They are the perfect solution for kitchen ranges where oils such as lard, olive oil, maize, and butter are being used daily. Due to their potassium element, they are perfect to combat class A and F fires in kitchen areas including restaurants, industrial and warehouse kitchens that involve large cooking and food processing sections.
Sizes for a wet chemical fire extinguisher include 2.5L & 7.0L
- Class A Fires: These involve ordinary combustibles including wood, paper, textiles, and many plastics.
- Class F Fires (Most Used): These involve cooking fats and oils. The high temperature of these types of fats and oils when on fire exceeds that of other flammable liquids which means that normal fire extinguishers should not be used.
For additional help, check out our extensive guide on wet chemical extinguishers here where we cover in more detail about its use, pros and cons and maintenance requirements. To check out our product range, click here.
Water/Air Fire Extinguisher
The air/water extinguisher is regarded as the ‘classic’ extinguisher and is still used to dealing with class A & B fires. Water fire extinguisher offers high cooling with no substantial negative environmental impact. Due to their nature, they are ideal for spaces filled with heavy combustibles such as warehouses. They can also be used in homes especially in living rooms and bedrooms. Air/ Water extinguishers are an economical and environment-friendly solution to combat class A type (flammable solids), however, they should not be used to treat electrical equipment.
- Class A Fires: These involve ordinary combustibles including wood, paper, textiles, and many plastics. Ideal for homes, schools, and warehouses that have heavy combustibles but do not have live electrical equipment being used.
In Australia, water extinguishers have a red body and will have a RED colour band wrapped around the tank. The most popular size for the water extinguisher is 9.0L. For additional help, check out our extensive guide on Water extinguishers here.
Fire Extinguisher Location & Mounting
To ensure your fire extinguisher meets safety regulations, it is a safe general rule to make the extinguisher as clearly visible as possible and to be easily reachable.
Portable Extinguisher Mounting heights:
- · Max- 1200mm from floor to top of extinguisher handle
- · Min- 100mm from floor to bottom of the extinguisher
For more information, please visit https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=699
Fire Extinguisher Identification & Display
It is standard regulations that all fire extinguishers must have one sign above or adjacent. The extinguisher needs to have a symbol, border and letters in white on a red field to be in compliance with Australian standards (AS) 2700.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance General Rules:
It is routine for fire extinguishers to be checked every six months by a service team as required per regulations. However, we recommend once a month to ensure the following:
- The extinguisher is not blocked by equipment, coats or other objects that interfere with access in an emergency.
- The pressure is at the recommended level, this means the needle should be in the green zone- not too high and not too low.
- The nozzle or other parts are not obstructed
- The pin and tamper seal is intact
- There are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and other signs of abuse/wear. Wipe off any corrosive chemicals, oil, gunk etc. that may have landed on the extinguisher.
- Fire extinguishers should be pressure tested (a process called hydrostatic testing) after a number of years to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use. We provide our partner, majestic fire with pressure testing and maintenance services.
For additional help in choosing a fire extinguisher, talk to one of our friendly experts or check out the rest of our website for additional help.