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Fire Safety Certificates

Types of Extinguishers

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, etc
Rating needed Our item rated description
1A 1A:20B:C:E 1kg DCP ABE
1A 1A:3F 2 Ltr wet chemical
2A 2A:30B:C:E 1.5kg DCP ABE
2A 2A:20B 9 Ltr AFFF
3A 3A:4F 7 Ltr wet chemical
3A 3A:20B 9 Ltr Fluorine Free
3A 3A 9 Ltr water
3A 3A:40B:C:E 2.5kg DCP ABE
4A 4A:60B:C:E 4.5kg DCP ABE
4A 4A:80B:C:E 4.5kg DCP ABE Hi Performance
6A 6A:80B:C:E 9kg DCP ABE

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Class B Fire risks - Flammable Liquids
Rating needed Our item rated description
5B 5B:E 3.5kg CO2
10B 1A:10B:E 0.75kg DCP ABE
20B 1A:20B:C:E 1kg DCP ABE
20B 2A:20B 9 Ltr AFFF
20B 3A:20B 9 Ltr Fluorine Free
30B 2A:30B:C:E 1.5kg DCP ABE
30B 2A:30B:C:E 2kg DCP ABE
40B 3A:40B:C:E 2.5kg DCP ABE
60B 4A:60B:E 4.5kg DCP ABE
80B 4A:80B:C:E High performance 4.5kg DCP 80BE
80B 6A:80B:C:E 9kg DCP ABE

Class F Fire risks - Cooking Oils and Fats
Rating needed Our item rated description
3F 1A:3F 2 Ltr wet chemical
4F 3A:4F 7 Ltr wet chemical

What do the fire ratings mean?

The letters A, B, C, E, & F are 4 types of fires that are covered by these fire extinguishers
These letters classify a fire mostly by the type of fuel that is keeping the fire going.
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:C:E extingusher, could be used on a Type A fire, or a B fire, or a type C 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, C, E, & F?

Fire Class
Description Typical examples
Wood, paper, plastics wood, textiles, rubber, plastics and paper.Offices, warehouses
Flammable liquids petrol, oil, paint, petrol stations, cars
Energised electrical Switchboards, computers, toasters, fuse boxes, live electrical appliances
Flammable Gas All our ABE dry chemical extinguishers are now also rated for class "C" fires, eg fires caused by natural gas, propane, hydrogen, butane, or methane.
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.

Colour band Type of extinguisher Foam and Water extinguisherCO2 fire extinguisherdry chemical DCPWet chemical
Dry Powder
Wet Chemical
Carbon dioxide

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.:
carbon dioxide signABE sign Wet chemical

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

Fire extinguisher chart Further reading


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