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Fire Extinguisher Ratings.

The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) rates fire extinguishers to be used on certain types of fires. It is vital that you use the correct fire extinguisher for the fire as using the wrong type of fire extinguisher could be life threatening.

Ratings and Symbols

Class of Fires Types of Fires Type of Fire Extinguisher Symbol
A  Wood, Paper, cloth, trash and other ordinary combustibles Multipurpose ABC Fire Extinguisher, Type A Fire Extinguisher  
B Gasoline, Oil, Paint and other Flammable Liquids Multipurpose ABC Fire Extinguisher, C02 or Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers  
C Wirings, live electrical equipment Multipurpose ABC Fire Extinguisher, C02 or Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers  
D Combustible Metals (such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium) Specialty Type D Fire Extinguisher (usually made for specific metals)  
K Combustible Cooking Fluids like fats and oils Type K Commercial kitchen Fire Extinguisher used in conjunction with a fire suppression system  

Class A Fire Extinguisher is used for Class A Fires. These fires are considered Ordinary Combustibles. The fire includes paper, cloth, wood, rubber and plastics. An Air pressurized Water (APW) Fire Extinguisher is labeled a Class A Fire Extinguisher. Never use a Class A fire extinguisher on flammable liquids or electrical fires as the extinguisher will spread the fire or electrocution could occur.

Class B Fire Extinguisher is used for Class B Fires. These are flammable liquid fires including Oils, Gasolines, and paints. CO2 Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher and Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers are both labeled Class B Fire Extinguishers.

Class C Fire Extinguisher is used for Class C Fires. These are Electrical Fires such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water on an electrical fire due to the risk of electrocution. CO2 fire extinguishers and Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher are both used for Electrical Equipment Fires.

Class D Fire Extinguisher is used for Class D Fires. These fires are comprised of powders, flakes or shavings of combustible metals (magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium). The fire extinguishers contain a sodium chloride based dry powder. Many Class D extinguishers are geared to a specific metal.

Class K Fire Extinguisher is used for Class K Fires. These fires are combustible cooking fluid fires comprised of oils and fats. These are typically found in commercial kitchens. These extinguishers are used in conjunction with a built-in hood suppression system. Special Precautions should be taken around electrical equipment - make sure the power has been turned off.

ABC Fire Extinguishers are considered a multipurpose fire extinguisher that can be used on Class A, B and C fires. ABC fire extinguishers use dry chemical fire retardant powder made up of mono ammonium phosphate. This is a yellow powder that will leave a sticky residue one the fire has been extinguished. These are the most popular style fire extinguisher and represent about 80% of the extinguishers sold.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Fire Extinguishers are used for Class B and Class C fires. These extinguishers contain carbon dioxide and are highly pressurized. Do not use on Class A fires as the combustible fire might be able to re-ignite. The CO2 Extinguishers have an advantage over dry chemical extinguishers as they do not leave a harmful residue which is a good choice for delicate electronic equipment.