Portable fire extinguishers, usually just referred to as fire extinguishers, are incredibly important in both commercial and residential settings. As 'first aid fire fighting equipment', they extinguish thousands of fires every year, saving lives and protecting property.
We stock a wide range of fire extinguishers are Life Safety Online, including foam spray, CO2, water-based, dry powder extinguishers and chemical fire extinguishers. These extinguishing agents are compact, reliable and easy to use. The essential fire safety equipment.
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Our fire extinguishers are fantastic value, yet are high performance and proven in real-life situations. With millions of Commander and CommanderEDGE fire extinguishers sold, we have absolute confidence in their reliability and performance.
We stock the full range of fire extinguishers, including Water, Foam, CO2, Dry Powder and Wet Chemical, as well as fire extinguishers for specialist applications. Our dry powder extinguisher is ideal for electrical fires whereas the High-Performance Extinguishers and Multi-Purpose Extinguishers are great products and offer the ultimate in portable fire extinguishers and are suitable for fires involving gas.
Contact us at Life Safety online, we can give advice on the best fire extinguisher to suit your premises. This is dependent on the fire risks that are most likely to occur in your building.
Browse our comprehensive range of portable extinguishers
What are Portable Fire Extinguishers?
Fire extinguishers are devices that contain and discharge a substance that extinguishes or puts out a fire. These handheld devices come in a huge range of sizes, but the most common are portable fire extinguishers, typically weighing up to 15kg in total. These can be easily handled and operated by one person and placement can either be wall-mounted, on a fire extinguisher trolley or cabinet.
How do Portable Fire Extinguishers work?
Fire Extinguishers work by removing one or more of the three critical elements required to support fire - fuel, oxygen and heat. By removing one or more of these elements, the fire is unable to burn.
The extinguishing medium contained in the extinguisher is forced out of the nozzle, hose or horn by compressed air, usually nitrogen. The exception to this is CO2, which is a compressed gas and requires no additional pressurizing.
There are several types of fire extinguishers available, and care must be taken to use the correct one based on what is burning - known as the Class of fire.
What are the Classes of fire?
Fires and fire hazards are divided into 6 main classes:
- Class A - flammable solids e.g. wood, paper and textiles
- Class B - flammable liquids e.g. oil, grease and fuel
- Class C - flammable gases
- Class D - flammable metals
- Class F - cooking oils
- Live electrical equipment - often referred to as Class E
Each Class of fire has specific hazards and requires specific extinguishing methods. It can be very dangerous to use the wrong extinguisher on a fire. For example, using a water extinguisher on a Class F fire actually makes it worse! And if you use CO2 on burning paper (Class A), the force of the CO2 gas can make the burning material fly all over the place...
It is incredibly important you use the correct extinguisher, and ensure the relevant extinguishers are specified in line with fire hazards present. Different extinguishers are suitable for different types of fires whether that be what caused it or whether it's a large or small fire. Read on to find out what extinguisher you should use...
Water-Fire Extinguishers are very popular as they are inexpensive, completely eco-friendly and are an effective extinguisher for most fires. They work by removing the heat from the fire. However, Water Extinguishers only carry a Class A rating, limiting the range of applications they can be used for. Most of our Water Fire Extinguishers have passed the 35kVa Dielectric Test, meaning they are safe for inadvertent use on live electrical equipment up to 1000V at a distance of 1m.
Foam Fire Extinguishers
Foam extinguishers are often used as the next level up from the water, doing everything that water extinguishers do, but also boasting a Class B fire rating meaning they can be used on flammable liquid fires, although not 'running' flammable liquid fires (you need a Powder Extinguisher for that). They also offer a faster knockdown than water extinguishers. Foam Extinguishers work by removing the heat from Class A fires, and by forming a film over the surface of flammable liquids they remove oxygen from Class B fires. However, foam extinguishers contain detergent so it’s important to try to prevent the foam from getting into watercourses. Most of our Foam Fire Extinguishers have also passed the 35kVa Dielectric Test, meaning they are safe for inadvertent use on live electrical equipment up to 1000V at a distance of 1m.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Fire Extinguishers
CO2 fire extinguishers are extremely common as being non-conductive they are completely safe for direct use on live electrical equipment. The Carbon Dioxide gas extinguishant is non-damaging and requires no clean-up after use. Carbon Dioxide extinguishers work by increasing the saturation of CO2 in the air, replacing the oxygen and making combustion impossible. However, they are only suitable for use on Class B (flammable liquid) fires and live electrical equipment. They can be very dangerous if used on Class A fires, as they can actually spread the burning material and make the fire worse! They are also of limited effectiveness when used outdoors.
Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers
Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers are hugely effective with massive performance. They are rated for nearly every class of fire – Class A (wood, paper and textiles), Class B (flammable liquids, including 'running' ), Class C (flammable gases), and are non-conductive thus completely safe for direct use on live electrical equipment. They work by the powder releasing CO2 when it gets hot, thus starving the fire of oxygen. So why aren’t they the only extinguishers we need? Well, they produce a huge cloud of powder dust when discharged, and whilst this isn’t toxic it does make breathing difficult and can restrict vision to the point of blocking emergency escape. As a result, we do not recommend them for use indoors apart from in exceptional circumstances.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Finally, we come to the Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers. Specifically designed to effectively extinguish cooking oil fires, they work differently from other extinguishers. Cooking oils burn at extremely high temperatures and render most fire fighting methods ineffective. In fact, putting water on a cooking oil fire is downright dangerous… Wet Chemical extinguishers actually react with the burning oil, and it turns literally to soap – a process called saponification. This forms a crust over the surface of the burning oil and prevents burning and re-ignition. The long lance applicator allows you to accurately direct the Wet Chemical directly onto the oil, and the fine spray resists splashing. However, although they also carry a Class A rating, Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers are largely useless on other fires.