by John Carmichael
To satisfy AS2444: Selection of portable
fire extinguishers, you may need to Find a fire extinguisher by its Fire
Rating: Australian Fire extinguisher ratings explained
Important things to note when reading this table:
Different types of fire risk require different types of extinguishers.
The weight of an extinguisher does not necessarily describe its fire-fighting ability, ie different brands of 4.5kg DCP extinguishers vary in their ability to put out fires. When comparing prices and value for money look at the ABE rating, not just the weight. The ratings you see below are only for the extinguishers we sell. All our DCP extinguishers use high performance powder, so their rating will usually be higher than our competitor's brand for the same weight
Class A Fire risks - Wood, Paper, Plastics,
Class B Fire risks - Flammable Liquids
Class F Fire risks - Cooking Oils and Fats
What do the fire ratings mean?
The letters A, B, E, & F are 4 types of fires that are covered by these
These letters classify a fire mostly by the type of fuel that is keeping the
Where an extinguisher is classified with more than one letter, it means it is
effective on more than one type of fire, eg 2A:30B:E
extingusher, could be used on a Type A fire, or a B fire, or a type E fire
(it is sometimes referred to as an ABE extinguisher). The number in front of
the letter is used to compare the performance of an extinguisher as outlined
in AS/NZS 1850
For class A fires the numbers range from 1 to 10, for class B they are from
2 to 80, and for class F, they go from 1 to 4. With the exception of the water
extinguisher, all the other extinguishers are capable of putting out more than
one type of fire. Use the table above to choose the fire extingusher that is
best suited to your fire risks.
What are the fire types A, B, E, & F?
|Wood, paper, plastics
||wood, textiles, rubber, plastics and paper.Offices, warehouses
||petrol, oil, paint, petrol stations, cars
toasters, fuse boxes, live electrical appliances
|Cooking oils & fats
||Butter, deep fryers, kitchens, take aways, and restaurants
There are also type C fires (flammable gases), and type D (combustible metals).
Please contact us to supply extinguishers for
class C fires. Sorry, we do not supply any type D extinguishers.
Australian fire extinguisher colour codes
Each type of fire extinguisher carries a coloured band at the top, that further
indicates what sort of fire extinguisher it is.
||Type of extinguisher
The AS2444 fire standard also insists that each extinguisher has an ID sign placed
immediately above the extinguisher, which uses similar colours and has a brief
description of the types of fires it can be used on.:
How do you decide which extinguisher to put where?
There is an Australian fire standard (AS2444) which covers this topic. The most
important factors that influence what fire
extinguisher you should use,are the likely source of a fire, and how much
area the fire extinguisher is expected to service (square metres of a room).
Sometimes it will be necessary to have more than one type of fire extinguisher
in a room. For example a water or wet
chemical fire extinguisher is dangerous to use on electrical (class E) fires-
it could cause electrocution!. A carbon
dioxide (CO2) extinguisher has only minimal ability on class A fires, the
pressure that comes from it may even cause loose burning papers to fly up and
spread the fire. A CO2 fire extinguisher
used on a class F fire, say in a deep fryer, could fling burning oil all over
the room. But it is perfect for electrical fires because the CO2 gas can make its way
in and around computer boxes or behind switchboards.
It is therefore important for staff to get proper training on which fire extinguisher
to use, where. Most Councils require a certificate of compliance, to ensure
the right equipment is used, and placed in the right location. The AS2444 specifies
the location of fire extinguishers and the location
signs that must accompany them. Failure to comply could see you issued with a Fire Safety Order forcing you do work to make the building fire safe